While I am away at my gastronomic course for two weeks, here is a previously published article from the blog on the annual French tasting week. The first week I am away, October 13-18 2014, is the French Semaine du Goût. I will be enjoying (along with others who live in France) many gastronomic specialities! Stay in touch. I will be Tweeting and Facebooking my gastronomic experience at Le Cordon Bleu and Hautes Etudes du Goût.
What is Le Semaine du Goût or French Tasting Week?
Tasting Week or Semaine du Goût is a celebrated pedagogical week in France filled with gastronomic specialities, the esprit to try new foods and a week to teach kids (and reinforce in adults) the importance of taste and taste development. (If you wish to read more about taste and the education of taste see a previous article on 7 reasons why this tasting week is important for all ages).
For the French, taste education is an year-round event
French tasting week is held annually in mid-October, but the French bring up their children to learn about taste, or as it is called in French le goût at a very young age. Living and raising four children in France brings adventure to the plate, but I can attest that this education du goût (taste education) is a positive aspect in the French culture.
Like the French, you can incorporate your own taste discovery adventure any time of the year at your house.
Here are my favorite ways:
Nine ways to reinforce tasting and taste discovery habits
1. USING CHARTS: visual goals
Examples: Tasting charts, Eating 5 a Day Fruit and Vegetable charts, Who’s turn to cook charts, or another example (see below)
- using a printed or handwritten chart is a visual way for children to make goals and feel proud of their achievements.
2. AROUND THE TABLE: asking questions
“Who can guess what is in this dish?” , “Where does this food come from?” , and enforcing the standard rule at home: “You must taste, but you don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it”
- an informal way to ask questions about taste, food and the origins of food; encouraging just “to taste” is a non authoritative way to have the child explore new tastes/foods.
3. IN THE SUPERMARKET: involve your children in the food shopping
“Let’s buy a new food”, “What is the name of this food?”, “Let’s pick out a fruit or vegetable that starts with the letter “A”, “B”, etc…”
- getting children involved in the shopping process, picking out new foods, discovering new food cultures can help the child to agree to taste, try and discover.
4. GOING TO FARMS AND MARKETS: ecological and global awareness
Supporting our local farmers, honey producers, jam makers, bread bakers. Think locally and act globally! Let’s encourage our kids to support these local businesses.
- visiting local farms and markets helps children understand where food comes from and the process from seed to final result (eating!). It also reinforces eating locally and acting globally.
5. AT RESTAURANTS: using different food environments
Ordering something new that hasn’t been eaten before and (why not) ordering something (smaller portioned) off the adult menu for children to try rather than kid’s meals.
- the children’s meals at restaurants are not the most healthy nor diverse meals on the menu. Have two children share an adult meal or asking the restaurant staff to make a smaller portion of an adult meal is a great way to have your children explore new tastes. It also helps your child know that almost all food, even though it is labeled “adults” can be eaten by children.
6. IN THE KITCHEN: direct involvement
Include kids in cooking and planning meals/menus.
- Getting children to cook or help cook encourages them to try their results! With your help they can learn to plan balanced meals including fruits and vegetables.
7. AT GRANDPARENTS HOUSE: using other role models
Food traditions, recipes and culture pass down from generation to generation. Encourage grandparents and grandchildren to work together to reinforce these family food traditions.
- As we move into a global world, cultural traditions are disappearing. Having older generation explain and cook with the younger generation helps to continue these family and cultural traditions.
8. WITH NEIGHBORS: awareness in other household environments
Some neighbors have a different culture than our own. Encourage your kids to ask questions about the neighbor’s and friend’s culture, including their food culture.
- If you have neighbors from a different culture than yours, encourage your children to ask questions about their culture, their foods, how they are prepared helps to open their “esprit” to food diversity.
9. IN SCHOOL AND WITH THE SCHOOL LUNCH MENUS: teachers and the “other kitchen”
Discussing the lessons from school that include food and taste and using the school cafeteria as an avenue to try new foods.
- School curriculum includes lessons on health-related areas: 5 a day, exercise is important, etc. Discussing these lessons with your children can reinforce good habits. Encourage your child to choose new foods from the school lunch menu can be an easy way to explore new tastes.
Can I share a story about food and taste? I grew up in a family that focused food as the center for social events and the heart of the family. My mom was 1st generation American because my grandmother came “off the boat” from Czechoslovakia when she was a young teenager. For her and my mom, food was the way you welcome family, neighbors, friends. I used to think it was weird to see my grandmother make cheese every Easter, and hang it up in cheesecloth on the clothesline to have the whey drip out overnight. My mom still makes my grandmother’s recipes: her pickles, meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, cucumber salad. What a treasure it all is!
Taste, culture, discovery, gastronomy: in our fast-paced world it is a challenge. That is why this tasting week is so important in France and should be in all places around the world. Do you have traditions in your family that help develop your and your children’s taste? Or with adults such as wine tastings or food cooking clubs? Let me know your thoughts and ideas!
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