I recently took part for the second year in a wonderful Australian initiative called ‘Week of Tastes‘.
The program, founded by food industry professional Helen Campbell, brings chefs and food industry professionals into local schools to educate, create and excite children about healthy eating, living and cooking. Obesity in our society has reached alarming proportions and Week of Tastes believes that teaching our youngsters about food will help them grow to be healthy, food-smart teens and adults.
My wife and I have three exuberant young boys and I try to cook with them, take them to markets and educate them about food as much as possible so it’s been my pleasure to be involved in Week of Tastes.
This year I visited St Charles school’s Year 4 class and wanted to show the kids some things I picked up on my trip through Mexico while filming my upcoming SBS Food series ‘Mexican Fiesta with Peter Kuruvita’. They were excited and a great audience.
Mexican food seems to be one of the least understood cuisines in Australia, possibly due to our distance from Mexico. In truth the food is simple and once you get the flavours right it’s an exciting and interesting set of ingredients and tastes to work in. As you’ll see in my show (airing early 2014) Mexican food changes dramatically depending on where in the country you happen to be eating.
As an introduction to this new sort style of food I taught the kids about the flavours and techniques of Mexican food..first we talked about the 3 sisters, corn beans and squash.
Then I explained the ingenuity and ferocity of the Aztecs, the Mayans who lived in the south were more relaxed when it came to human sacrifice, but both were ingenious; they built magnificent monuments and changed the course of water to satisfy their needs.
Although some ingredients and tastes, particularly the dried spicy chillies were a new experience but the kids took it all in stride, trying everything before making up their minds.
After we talked about the emblem on the Mexican flag then chillies and thier various names, show and tell (and taste), except for the ferocious Habanero.
We finished up with one of my favourites – a hot chocolate drink scented with cinnamon, this was a resounding success.
A year 4 student named James wrote this about his Week of Tastes experience;
“My favourite part of the Week of Tastes was probably the hot chocolate and the cinnamon chocolate. I won the chocolate quiz and it was beautiful. I reckon the Week of Tastes this year was a 10/10. Now I really like spicy stuff. I hope I get to see Peter again next year because his hot chocolate was pro. He really taught me a lot about Mexico and the foods in Mexico.”
Working with the kids at Week of Tastes is a highlight of my year and I love coming to teach them. As usual my youngest son Taj was brought in to assist me.
Thank you to Helen Campbell and Week of Tastes for inviting me to participate in this great program again.
For more information on Week of Tastes visit their website and Facebook page.
Visit the Week of Tastes Facebook page