“It’s on the tip of my tongue”
The expression “it’s on the tip of my tongue” has taken on a completely new meaning for the 340 year six pupils who attended Nofima’s taste school in Stavanger, Ås and Tromsø during Taste Week.
Some quotes from the pupils:
- I have now tasted things I have never tasted before!
- I wish it was Taste Week every week!
- Caviar was painful. I don’t like that.
- I love lemon!
- Are there any set answers?
- What sort of education is required to be a taste judge?
- Yuk, I don’t like umami!
- I LOVE FOOD!
Taste Week started in France in 1994, and this was the sixth time the event has been held in Norway.
This year the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs were responsible for the event along with the Information Offices in agriculture, the Norway Seafood Export Council, the Norwegian Chefs’ Association and Nofima.
In Stavanger 180 pupils from Madlavoll, Tjensvoll, Auglend and Grannes primary schools started the day by having their tongue photographed and made into a postcard. A two-hour education programme then followed.
In Ås around 100 pupils from Åsgård, Brønnerud and Rustad primary schools participated, along with around 60 pupils from Borgtun and Mortensnes primary schools in Tromsø.
The children tried a variety of activities during the taste school, including a vegetable test in which the pupils tasted five different raw vegetables. The children then needed to identify the vegetables and answer questions about them.
“Pretty hard,” thought Martin Tobias Solvik from class 6B at Tjensvoll School in Stavanger.
Many of his classmates struggled to sort carrot, turnip, swede, broccoli and Jerusalem artichoke.
The pupils also underwent a test of basic tastes in which they tasted five food products and had to link them to the dominant basic taste in the food – sweet, sour, salt, bitter or umami.
“We hope that through this project we can teach the children more about the basic tastes we have,” says Nofima Scientist Siril Alm. “Next time they eat food, so perhaps they will chew a bit more and think whether the food tastes sweet or sour or whether it contains several tastes.”
The pupils also underwent a test to see if they were super tasters. This was achieved by the pupils receiving two paper strips which they were to place on their tongue.
One of the strips contained a bitter substance, which some people find unpleasant while others taste nothing at all.
Several of the pupils had a bitter taste in their mouths, which may suggest that they had many taste buds on their tongues and consequently are super tasters.
The results from several of the activities during Taste Week will be used in a research project about children and food, including the results of a “mind map” in which the pupils provided their thoughts and associations about four different dinner dishes based on meat, fish and various vegetables.
The users of the future
“Children are the users, food producers and food innovators of the future. Taste Week is designed to capture children and young people’s attention about food and food quality,” says the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lars Peder Brekk.
“Taste experiments will make the pupils curious and challenge them to recognise how food actually tastes, and to try and put this into words. It is amusing to give children knowledge about sensory science, and it is not necessary those who are best in maths or run the fastest who will be a super taster.”
On a national basis, more than 660 schools have registered to participate in the teaching plan “Taste on the timetable”.