Perhaps it tells us something about the difference between France and North America that the French dedicate a whole week to eating well (not just one day).
France’s ‘Tasting Week’, as it is called, just ended. It is truly a national celebration.
All school children participate in workshops with chefs, bakers and pastry-makers. At lunch, schools serve special ‘around the world’ menus, and older children participate in food-related job/career sessions (this year, a lot of emphasis is being laid on careers in farming).
“Taste Coaches” are posted in grocery stores to educate shoppers on ‘exotic’ ingredients, or on more prosaic issues like reading nutritional labels.
Restaurants offer innovative (and often inexpensive) tasting menus, top chefs open their doors (and, even more intriguingly, their kitchens) to the general public, and all sorts of wonderful (and sometimes wacky) workshops are offered across the country. What about a ‘Raw Cocoa Tasting’, or a session with ‘Grand Chef’ Medigue at the Chateau D’Orfeuillette in Lozère? And that’s just for the kids! Their parents head off to shows like CreaSculptures: the world’s first forum dedicated to the art of sculpting fruits and vegetables.
Last (but not least): at home, French families savour food, all food. And teach their children some of the simple, wonderful lessons about food that we’ve often forgotten. (Beatrice Peltre writes about this wonderfully in her amazing blog La Tartine Gourmande.)
Why do the French do this? Here’s the answer from the organizers of “Tasting Week”:
“Educating taste, particularly in childhood, is the key to a balanced, healthy and diverse diet for one’s entire life. All children can learn to appreciate different tastes, to distinguish between them, and to talk about them. Schools, chefs, and the family: all have a role to play.”
Amen! And Bon Appétit!