The Magic of the CKA “No Thank You Bite”
Chef Danny's Corner
“I don’t like it!” “That looks gross!” “Eww, what’s that smell?!” “I don’t want to try it – I’ve had it before!”
How many times have you said or heard someone say these things? I can tell you that over the past 18 years of teaching students of all ages (Kinder-High School), I’ve heard these phrases, and many more like them, millions of times.
So, how does CKA so successfully get our students to understand that they must try foods over and over again before they can REALLY decide whether they like them or not?
1- If you are a kid, GET IN THE KITCHEN! If you are a parent or teacher, COOK WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND STUDENTS! Whether you are doing so at home, or in your classroom, being an active participant immediately provides a psychological edge when it comes to actually trying foods. Providing a personal stake in the process compels us to be open to stepping outside of our comfort zones. For CKA it’s with food, but it could easily be the case in sports, academics and even business. Get involved and you’ll find you enter whatever situation you find yourself in with a far more open mind!
2- Anyone who’s ever taken a CKA workshop knows that our students are never forced to eat, but we do strongly encourage at least trying the food in what we like to call the CKA “no thank you bite!” Believe it or not, the biology of our mouths tell us that on our taste buds, we each have thousands of microscopic hairs – yes, you have HAIR on your tongue (no braiding or ponytail required here)! They’re called microvilli and you grow a brand new batch about every two weeks - But the really interesting thing is, children have far more microvilli than adults do. Which means they have far more sensitive senses of taste (which is why you see folks needing more salt and pepper the older they get). Thus, it takes youngsters far longer to figure out whether they like something or not. By the way, smoking kills your microvilli…yet another reason why you shouldn’t smoke!
Scientists have proven that it takes between 15-45 times of trying a food before you can really decide whether you like it or not. We’ve all had foods that we hated, but after trying them a bunch of times, ended up loving! I use both my children as prime examples for my students.
With the exception of fish, we don’t eat any meat in the Corsun household, so when my son was 5 years old, I had to make sure he was getting enough protein in his diet. So I had him try edamame – Which is that super yummy, buttery tasting soybean you get when you eat at your favorite sushi place. Well, not only is edamame delicious, it’s super high in protein! So I had my son try it…and he HATED IT!! “Daddy, I don’t want to have this ever again,” he said in mid spit. I proceeded to explain the microvilli lesson to him and since he liked science, told him we’d conduct an experiment. Twice per week, he would take a “no thank you bite” of edamame. This translated to his taste buds and microvilli having the chance to sample the food and say, “maybe I won’t like it today, but perhaps I will tomorrow.” He begrudgingly agreed and we were off and tasting. Well, he hated them the 1st time, the 10th time and the 20th time – But what do you think happened the 23rd time he tried them? Yup, he loved them. Fast forward to 12 years later and he’s 17 years old and towers over me at 6’5”!!
So what’s the moral of the story? Try, try, try! You don’t have to eat the whole thing…just take a small sample so, as the expression goes, you can “acquire the taste,” of the food. We must be brave and courageous in life to conquer our fears and step into uncharted territory – even when eating! When you’re out to dinner, take a “no thank you bite!” When you’re eating with the family at home, take a “no thank you bite!” Because, as we like to say at CKA, “you can’t go through your life eating only pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (though CKA makes a mean version of that too!)!
Take care and happy no thank you biting!