Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Umami, the elusive “fifth taste”

Umami, the elusive “fifth taste”
Umami is one of the five basic tastes, together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth.
Discovered by Japanese scientists 102 years ago.
The Japanese word for "taste", umami was discovered in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda, a Tokyo chemist who identified it as the savoury flavour imparted by foods rich in chemicals including glutamate, a building block of protein. There is a fifth taste, however, which is much less widely recognized. This is 'umami', better known in the west as monsodium glutamate (MSG).
"Umami is part of our everyday eating lives, it is just that many of us don't know what to call it. It is what gives depth of flavor to food. Every food culture has its umami-rich ingredients, whether it is seaweed in Japan or Parmesan in Italy."
As the most abundant amino acid, glutamate is present in many protein-containing foods, including meat, seafood and aged cheese.

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