Frenchy Ways to Eat for Pleasure and Good Health: The Taste of Food
Eating for pleasure and good health with enjoying the taste of food. Of course the taste of food…how could we not find pleasure in eating if we didn’t enjoy the taste of the food? “You must be joking,” I can hear most of you saying. The acquisition of learning to taste food, the development of le goût is something particularly French. This sensation of tasting food on the palate; of eating for the senses, in particular the sense of “goût” or taste on the tongue is something appreciated and learned from an early age. Although this taste education in children is slowing decreasing even in France with two parents working and availability of more convenience foods. Discovering taste, appreciating taste and striving for good taste is another way towards eating for pleasure and good living. It is included on the list of 17 ways towards good health, french ways. Here is the full list if you want to check out the other ways and articles on the subject.
Taste development starts young
We envision as parents helping our children learn how to appreciate food. Do you know when we begin to actually taste food? As early as 12 weeks gestation, as a fetus. Ultrasounds have shown fetuses at this age tasting the mother’s amniotic fluid and licking the side of her uterus! Thus, the better and more diversified a mother’s diet, the more chances the fetus will develop taste at an early age. At 9-12 months old, this now infant will be more inclined to accept new foods. Breastfeeding also helps taste acquisition and acceptance of new foods in infant and toddler years. Here is an article published on this site that better explains this phenomenon.
Taste aquisition in France starts at an early age
Children start school in France at 3 years old. (Although school is not mandatory until 6 years old, 99% of children attend school starting at 3 years old). Even in petit section (the youngest aged class) there is education on taste and taste development. Already the daily snack in school is an avenue for learning about food and taste. The “semaine de goût” held annually throughout France in October is another week of degustation (tasting). Even in preschool daycare these French toddlers, just learning to walk, are being taught about taste and food. Believe me, I’ve seen it and experienced it with my 4 kids! At the French home the situation is often the same. Whether it is through the gouter served in the afternoon, the main meal at lunch or light and late dinner. The parents usually try to make an effort for the children to sit, taste and savor the food. In fact, sometimes it quite the strict discipline! See this article on kids and meal discipline. And YOU reading this…how do you teach taste development and acceptance of food in your home? Here are some ideas if you are looking for more inspiration. A French mom very proudly told me the other day that her 6 year daughter can taste the difference between her grandmother’s roasted chicken bought from a farm from the chicken fillets bought at the supermarket by her mother. To distinguish these different tastes on the palate is a privilege and should be encouraged.
Ah, adults and taste, what happens here?
Honestly, it is wonderful to taste all the delicious foods here, but sometimes it can be even too much to handle for foodie foreigners like me. You see the French are very “exigent” (demanding) with the taste of their food. As an adult they have whipped through all the development stages, they feel they are fully qualified to make comments about their food and wine whether at home or at a restaurant. Let me give you an example: picture that you are dining with a big group for dinner at a restaurant. Everyone French, all being served the same dish. You are sitting down together and starting to enjoy the meal. A bit of chit-chat and then…the first course comes. “Bon Appetit!” we all say and start eating the first course. “Oh, my smoked salmon is slightly dry”, someone says. “Yes, I agree, it doesn’t seem fresh!” Someone else takes a sip of their crisp white wine. “Oh, no..what DID they clean these wine glasses with? This wine tastes like soap.” “I agree” says another person at the table. A bit of reprieve. Subject changes to something other than food. The second course is served. “The sauce on this meat is too salty, ” someone starts. “Mine is fine” another woman says, (thankfully I think to myself, hoping these comments will stop). “I have to leave this, it is inedible” (the woman with the sauce that was too salty says). “My meat is inedible too” I hear down the table. Someone now sips the red wine served with the second course. “Oh, la, la …this taste of soap from the dishwasher really ruins the taste of this wine!”…
And…the dinner continues. This really happened…I was there. It is not the first time the meal conversations completely turn around the food everyone is tasting. Actually, the last group meal I attended at a restaurant with a mix of French and English people, the food really was delicious…but will the French ever stop talking about each bite they take? Non, bien sur que non! (No, of course not). There again were all the comments about the meal they were tasting. You see, taste development is good, but the French are also very demanding with themselves and the food they eat. In fact, that is the next article to come and the next way to eat for pleasure and good health, French way: BE DEMANDING! (but not too much around foreigners, haha)
HOW TO HELP DEVELOP THE TASTE FOR TASTE IN YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELF
- Eat a healthy, varied diet while pregnant
- Breastfeed your infant, even short-time is beneficial
- At 9-12 months, diversify your infants diet with balanced , fresh and healthy foods
- Encourage your children to taste foods without forcing to eat them
- Try and try again introducing new foods, sometimes it takes 20 times before acceptance
- Slow eating and a varied menu
- Encouraging children to distinguish different tastes on the tongue; salt, acid, bitter, sweet
Even as an adult, it is never too late to learn about taste or appreciate it. Need more help? A wine tasting class or good cooking course is a good start. So is just experimenting in the kitchen. Eating for pleasure is easier to do when you love love love the taste of what you eat! Don’t you agree? Bon Appetit!