This year’s theme is The Construction of Taste, and all across the country children will be learning about food and how they taste it through discussions, blind tastings, cooking classes and field trips, all led by a merry band of professionals, many chefs from corner bistros and many chefs with pockets full of Michelin stars.
Sunday, I heard Jean-Luc Petitrenaud talk on radio about his brainchild and Monday, as I made my way through the city, I kept coming upon the Semaine du Gout signs in store windows — clearly, Paris was ready to launch the 19th edition of this program. And yesterday afternoon, as I was walking home, I discovered that the kids were just as ready to take part it in.
I met theses two girls as they were headed down the rue de l’Odeon sporting their new toques, toques they’d earned by tasting vegetables. “We had to say if they were bitter or sweet,” said one. “And to describe them, ” piped in the other. Their class was being conducted by the chef of Bouillon Racine, a beautiful art nouveau restaurant (actually classified as a historic monument), and, while they weren’t sure what they’d being doing on Tuesday — “probably tasting more vegetables” — they were both really looking forward to Friday. They tripped over each other’s sentences as they told me that they’d be going to the restaurant for a tour and a tasting led by the chef! Who wouldn’t look forward to that, right?
When I left them, I saw lots more kids in their toques and I got that same little pang of envy that always got during parent visiting day: I wanted to be back in school! The scold in me wanted to shake my finger at these adorable kids and say, “I hope you appreciate how lucky you are to be doing this,” but I knew I didn’t have to — it was pretty clear that they already knew.