Les Ateliers Cinq Épices (The Five Spices Workshops.. roughly translated) held another cooking workshop at my son’s school this morning and I was on hand to help out (and snap photos). On today’s menu: Fruit salad with a lime-mint-honey sauce. The salad had red and green apples, red and green grapes and pears. I helped the kids with their cutting technique, showed them how to squeeze lime juice and to cut mint leaves with small scissors. They were so good! And so was the salad.. sadly though my son really didn’t like it. He wasn’t keen on the tartness of the lime juice I think.
While I listened to the nutritionist asking students questions about the various ingredients, I was reminded of Jamie Oliver’s visit to the school in Huntington, West Virginia. You know, the one where the children eat pizza for breakfast and couldn’t name any of the fruits and vegetables he held up.
The children today could not only name the ingredients they were cooking with – they knew the parts of the fruits and what was significant about them, could describe where they grow, how they get to market and could pick out Fuji apples, green apples and bosc pears in a blind taste test. And this is in a low-income neighborhood, so the argument about the poor only eating cheap, processed food doesn’t really fly here. I believe the school environment and its emphasis on nutritional education has played a positive role in fostering that knowledge. I hope schools in other areas have access to programs like this. Maybe Michelle Obama could see to it that this type of cooking workshop becomes part of a national childhood nutrition program in the US… for starters.
PS.. this program has been operating here in schools in Montreal, Canada for nearly 20 years.