Before October comes to an end, I want to briefly mention ‘La Semaine du Gout’ which takes place annually at this time of year.
It started off as ‘La Journee du Gout’ (Tasting Day) in 1990 by … the sugar industry! At that time they were defending the use of real sugar versus synthetic sweetners.
Since then it has become a pedagogical week dedicated to the pleasures of the palate. Workshops, information campaigns, lessons in taste; all the events offered for the occasion have one thing in common: to try new foods and to teach kids (and reinforce in adults) the importance of taste and taste development and to encourage contact between producers and the general public.
Two years ago, my son’s class did blindfolded tastings at school and I was surprised to witness some 6year-olds confusing salt with sugar! There’s obviously still some work to be done.
I’d actually forgotten about La Semaine du Gout this year but my children came home each day from school especially excited about their school canteen menu. That particular week the ingredients were especially sourced from the local region and they had a different bread served each day (Monday was blue cheese, Tuesday was olive, Wednesday was walnut, Thursday was fig, and Friday was poppy seed). I am grateful that my children have learned to try everything on their plate – just as my mother encouraged me to do. They are often surprised to find that something that they thought they didn’t like, has suddenly become much nicer.On the topic of exploring tastes, I recently discovered garbure which is a great simple one-pot dish for this time of year …as the cold weather arrives. It is a hearty stew that originates from the south-west of France. I was fortunate enough to witness Florence, a lovely lady originating from Bearn (the region from which this stew comes from which is at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains) giving a cooking lesson on how to prepare the combination of salted ham hock, cabbage, carrots, white beans and garlic followed by how to cook it and eat it – with boiled potatoes or bread to sop up the delicious stock…and some wine. There is nothing like learning how to cook a dish from a master. Even the most descriptive recipe (or YouTube video) can never replace such experiences.