A week... to explore different food tastes

© Nicolas Duprey Departement des Yvelines

Today is the first day of La Semaine du Goût, a week-long culinary celebration of taste involving thousands of events across France.

The ‘Week of Flavour’ started in Paris in 1990 when 350 French chefs gave lessons to primary school children about food and nutrition.

Since then, the week of activities has spread across France to all levels of food consumption, from hotels and secondary schools to university catering and commercial restaurants.

The main aim is to encourage a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle as well as to enjoy tasting multiple flavours and foods.

It is an opportunity for food industry experts to showcase a range of flavours, to give clear information on food products, such as how they were made and where they come from, and to promote employment in the food industry sector.

The week, organised by the Fondation pour l’Innovation et la Transmission du Goût, has a theme this year of ‘transition alimentaire’. This refers to the current shift in attitudes in France towards the sustainability of food, as consumers become more and more vigilant about the origins of what they are eating and its impact on the environment.

© Nicolas Duprey Departement des Yvelines

The Leçons de Goût are the main focus of the week, taking place in nurseries and primary schools across the country. The classes are taught by a range of different workers, such as craftsmen, chefs, producers and breeders. Their aim is to share their knowledge of flavour and to raise children’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition from a young age. The tasting week also includes the scheme ‘Chef sur le Campus’, where food industry professionals give talks to university students about the importance of a balanced diet for mental and physical health, as well as how to achieve this on a small budget.

The chefs and restaurant owners who participate in the week become known as ‘Tables du Goût’, as they create a thematic menu in their establishments in an attempt to highlight different flavours according to the year’s chosen theme.

The programme Chefs de Demain serves to bridge the gap between these industry professionals with young people who are training to become chefs themselves. The programme involves workshops, presentations and a lunch with the day’s speakers where the students can find out about the industry first-hand.

© Commune du Val d'Ajol

La Semaine du Goût has been so successful that its influence has spread as far as Japan, where since 2013 the week has also been held annually. Director of La Semaine du Goût, Sophie Gerstenhaber, said: “I think the week is so successful because France is a country where diet has a lot of importance.

“For example, I’m not sure that the week would have the same success in the US. The idea is to raise awareness in children from a young age about nutrition and the importance of eating a diverse diet. We teach them about raw produce like fruit, vegetables, spices, meat, fish etc and then get them to recognise different tastes such as whether something is sugary, salty or bitter.

“We know that learning these things at a young age makes children more conscious about what is on their plate and their eating habits. There are 200,000 children who are doing the lessons in their schools this week but there are also actions carried out by cities, towns, school canteens, sixth-forms and universities to name a few.

“This year’s theme, la transition alimentaire, focuses on the things that we pay more attention to nowadays than we did before, such as rubbish, the origins of our produce and our waste. It is all of these new behaviours which are linked to our environment that we are now trying to teach the children.”

To find out about events near you see https://www.legout.com/programme/

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