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Jun 18, 2013 04:21 AM

5 basic tastes and volunteering with children.

Hi everyone.
This is my first chowhound topic, so i hope i'm doing it right :b

Name's Signe. 21 years old and from Denmark. I've been lurking around in your forums for a while and now i need your help.

In the first week of July i'm volunteering in a danish project called "Madskoler" or "Foodschools". It's a week-long "camp" of activities for children aged 8-13. They meet us at a local school every morning at around 8-9 and throughout the day we cook, play, teach them about kitchen hygiene, nutrition and so on and so forth.

I am responsible for one particular activity called "Sansesmagning" which basically means sense tasting. I have to find a variety of foodstuffs to fit the 5 basic flavours (sweet, salt, bitter, sour and umami). The children have to feel, taste and look at the different things and discuss flavours and impressions.

I am looking for inspiration as to what things to get for each category. I am not sure if it has to be fruit and veg only, but any suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance :)

The food has to be healthy, easy to store and we haven't got the time to cook it first.

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    When we ran a similar program in the public school, we used six basic tastes and followed these food group suggestions.
    We didn't select one food for each taste; we offered four for each so the children could compare within each category as well as contrast within each basic taste. They had a ball.

    During the 2nd project, they created a small handmade cookbook using the six basic tastes as their theme.

    Good luck!

    4 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      Before we start they have to make taste-poster, where they write and/or draw the new foods they've tasted during the week. They get to take them home when we finish friday. I guess it's kind of similar :D

      I think 4 or 5 in each category would make for a good day.

      1. re: SigneGT

        Sounds like fun! I know the kids really had a blast learning, tasting, touching and discussing the food groups. The parents returned to us with a great deal of positive feedback.

        1. re: HillJ

          I can't wait :D

          Playing with food for an entire week is like the best thing! :b

          1. re: SigneGT

            Absolutely and you're in the position of opening their little minds to foods they may have turned down OR are trying in a new frame of mind.

            My son went from having an aversion to foods like avocado to having an openness to trying them..even with other foods.

            Most of the feedback from parents was in reference to their children new willingness to try certain foods AND their participation in new food discussion at the dinner table.

    2. Are there any allergies in your group? That would be something to investigate before setting a "menu".

      Sweet could be white chocolate (or milk chocolate), ripe peaches, pineapple.

      Sour could be lemon, plain yogurt

      Bitter could be (very) dark chocolate. Black brewed (decaf for kids) espresso.

      Salt could be salted pretzels, or a few flakes of sea salt.

      Unami ...I'd say asiago cheese. Or parmesan. Or slices of smoked sausage.

      3 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        There are about 20 kids, but i don't think i'll be finding out about allergies before the shopping trips. I guess if there are any, they are going to have to just taste the other things.

        Not sure i'm supposed to be feeding them chocolate (at least not milk or white), since a lot of the week is dedicated to nutrition and health. But peaches and pineapple are good ideas.

        So far i have:

        Sweet: Apples, Mango, Banana, Peaches
        Sour: Lemon, Lime, Vinegar, Plain yogurt
        Salt: Olives, "caviar", feta cheese, soy sauce
        bitter: walnuts, arugula, dark chocolate, grapefruit
        Umami: tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, avocado

        1. re: SigneGT

          You have some great choices there. You could get double duty from the lemons & limes if you save the inside rinds from them and use them in the Bitter category if you want.

          Salt: Pretzels

          Love the avocado choice for the Umami category. Perfect!

          Enjoy! Please let us know how it went!

          1. re: Sra. Swanky

            I most certainly will :D

            Pretzels are a good idea, i bet we have somethin similar in Denmark.