It is a pity that taste does not play a big part in the Eleven Plus examinations. We know that examination preparation demands good sight and hearing – but there does not seem to be much of a place for taste. Taste and smell are thought to be tied together.
We know that taste buds are scattered irregularly over the tongue, epiglottis, the larynx and parts of the throat. Children are supposed to have more taste buds than adults. Our taste buds can distinguish between different types of taste:
But life is a bit more complex than that, sweet chocolate can be a combination of sweet and bitter. A salad can have a whole variety of tastes. Years ago we all enjoyed a sweet that exploded in the mouth – with a cascade of tastes and sensations.
We know too that the tip of the tongue is often used to `test’ a taste.
The learned and often highly vocal `experts’ we see smelling and tasting wine teach us that it is possible for the palate to be able to make fine distinctions between similar flavours.
The Eleven Plus suggestion of today is to introduce cookery into the Eleven Plus syllabus. Learning to cook and taste `good’ food could be more useful in the long run that studying how to do analogies and codes.
On the day of the examination each child could be offered 60 different dishes. Each child would be offered a disposable spoon at each tasting point. The children would need to grade and categorise the sixty different flavours.
There would be massive benefits to society – and to you - from an examination of this nature:
We would know which flavours eleven plus children enjoy. (This would make the task of the school canteen a lot easier. The cooks would know what type of food to offer the Year 7 children.)
The child could also become wine connoisseurs – and this must help socially in later life. (You enter a restaurant. A bottle of wine is £28.50. Your sommelier hands you a glass for you to taste. You pass the glass to your Eleven Year old – who advises: “We can keep this one. 1978 was a good year.” The Eleven Plus candidate may also advise: “Rather corked. Not up to your usual standard.”
A further benefit of the Eleven Plus examination having a taste element is that you may never be forced to cook again. After all if you have a bright expert cook in the family then it could be easy for you to relegate yourself to `bottle washer and dishwasher filler’.
Finally if your child appears to wander around sticking his or her tongue out at the world you will know that he or she is merely adding to sensations and experience.