Year 4 students at St Charles’ School Waverley engaged their senses on a quest to appreciate the basic flavours of different foods during Week of Tastes.
Guest chef Matthew Kemp, from Waverley’s Charring Cross Hotel, presented students with foods including Radicchio, parmesan, limes, Greek yoghurt, and strawberries coated in orange juice and fresh vanilla from a pod to taste test. His visit on August 11 was part of the annual Week of Tastes program, which aims to get children to appreciate food with all five senses, enrich their food vocabulary, and make healthier food choices.
Year 4 teacher Leanna Langlands said students had written about their most memorable meal and learnt about different foods and tastes – including bitter, salty, sweet, sour and umami. They held a blindfolded taste-test in class ahead of Mr Kemp’s visit to better appreciate the role smell plays in appreciating the taste of food. Lemons, grapefruits, vegemite and fresh mint were on the menu.
“It has been a very successful program,” Mrs Langlands said. “Every year that they have done it the children have come out raving about how much they loved it. It shows them that there’s more to food than just eating it very quickly, that there’s more to taste.”
Mr Kemp said the program exposed children to fresh ingredients.
“I think it’s about health, about getting the kids to think about fresh food,” he said. “If they’re tasting things and thinking about them, then they’re thinking about their diet and hopefully that will help them when they’re out in the real world to actually think about a combination of flavours rather than buy takeaway. A basic understanding of food is so important and if you can get them to know how to put together half a dozen good dished by the time their 16 or 18, like how to cook a roast chicken nicely, it will help them in life.”
Students also learnt how salt was harvested and that naturally occurring algae gave the Murray River variety its pale pink tinge. They listed to anecdotes of how one land-locked Australian restaurant gives its customers headphones to listen to the sound of the ocean as they eat fish and chips to better appreciate the flavour, and how research had shown music played at a slow tempo allowed patrons to better taste their food, as did serving some ingredients, like tomatoes, at room temperature.
“I thought the strawberries were the best,” said Cooper Harrison, 9. “They were combined with lots of flavours, sweet and sour, even a little bitter. The experience was really good. I had lots of questions to ask because I’m very interested in food.”
Oscar Jager, 10, also enjoyed the strawberries the most. “I liked how he told a story then got the vanilla beans and got the orange peel and squeezed some orange juice over them – I thought that was very creative of him,” he said. “I learnt how you shouldn’t have too much of a taste because it can get blocked up on your tongue.”
Ila King and Mia Shalhoub, both 9, said parmesan was their favourite taste of the day. “It was a bit salty and I discovered umami –it’s a different taste,” said Ila. “It was really interesting because I hadn’t seen some of those foods before, like the radicchio.”
“My favourite was the parmesan because it was quite strong, and I liked smelling all the different foods, especially the liquid smoke and the vanilla beans,” Mia said.