From tastebuds to taste ”bildung”

By Helle Brønnum Carlsen, PhD, MA, Associated professor, UCC Copenhagen, Chairman of “SMAGENS DAG” (The day of Taste) 

How do we learn to practice judgement of taste? And how do we teach to facilitate this learning?

The first step is to motivate and invite the child to exceed itself. This is becoming more and more difficult in the late modernity’s insecure position of the subject. (Schmidt, 1998) To invite a child or any person to exceed itself one should consider the aesthetic communication (Carlsen, 2011) and its different parameters. How is the room or the surroundings influencing your motivation, and does time make an impact on your daring?

The second very important step is about the knowledge you have about what to taste. (Hammershøj, 2012) The oyster tells us about history and is filled with minerals good for your health. And if you try a new taste together with somebody you like and feel secure about, it might help you exceeding yourself too. (Spence et al. 2014) The experience you should make in different fields of theory and practice has to give you a functional language of taste and food in general.

Finally, you have to take the third step and qualify your judgement of taste. This is done through creative limited challenges.

The three steps of “bildung” are fundamental in bringing up children (Carlsen, 2016) capable of tasting and judging in a reflected and responsible way.


  • Carlsen, Helle Brønnum (2011): Mad og æstetik. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.
  • Carlsen, Helle Brønnum (2016): Maddannelse. København: U Press.
  • Hammershøj; Lars G. (2012): Kreativitet et spørgsmål om dannelse. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag
  • Schmidt, Lars-Henrik (1998): Utraditionel dannelse. I: Birgitte Holm Sørensen (red.): Det æstetiske i et dannelsesperspektiv. København: Danmarks Lærerhøjskole
  • Spence, Charles & Betina Piqueras-Fiszman (2014): The Perfect Meal. The multisensory science of food and dining. WILEY Blackwell