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’ (Semaine du Goût) has just ended. It’s one of France’s most beloved national celebrations.
School children attend 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).
And it doesn’t stop there. Chefs hold (often televised) cookoff competitions. “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 usually 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.
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!