Sunday, January 10, 2010


Truth. It doesn't change. Sweet, salty, sour, and bitter equals taste. We get four choices plus smell, the great enjoyment multiplier of fine cuisine. (To qualify as taste, a taste must be detected without any other sense involved.)

Enter umami: Taste #5.

Defined as a "savory" taste, found in meats, seafoods, sea weed and various other vegetables and foods," one website says,"most people don't recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays and important role in making food delicious."

Is that to say we don't taste it?

I've been thinking about describing the color blue to a blind man.

Or describing sweet to a man who has never had any. Words are impossibly inadequate. But we have honey. There is sugar.

There is salt. Bite that lemon. Chew up that Tylenol.

Umami remains illusive as the blind man's blue.

Yet they say it is the heart and soul of delicious.

MSG is the golden child of umami.

Umami enhances other flavors. It's the thing in cheese that enhances wine. The part of oyster sauce that makes stir fry---what? . Indefinable, indescribable.


That is something.

But there is nothing new under the sun.


Pig Woman said...

Hahahaha. Great pic of you El!

snort snort snort snort snort.

Where do you get this stuff, Seesta?

Scott said...

As a Food Network junkie, I have seen the word in commercials for Asian food. I see it as a taste that brings pleasure. (maybe that's how they define it as well) But it seems to always be in conjunction with another taste. Something can taste sour. It can either be a bad experience or a pleasureable one. Maybe then, it is a taste "taste" - a positive experience that is brought when the taster enjoys the original taste. [now i think i am rambling]
Instead of talking on the phone, texting or e-mailing, what happens when we pay a compliment to a friend in person and we see the smile form on their lips? ahhh, relational umami....

Goat said...

Why does its "discovery" seem like a media salt lick? They've had world wide conferences on umami for heaven's sake. Like they've discovered a chemical that makes food delicious rather than associating it more with hunger satiated. Or good company for that matter.

And seesta--did you just call me EL??? WHOA....

Craig and Bethany said...

Haha, umami. Is that why I am such a flop at "doctoring" up a soup? Just add a little instant coffee and salt and... Yeah. Please pass the umami. (Also known as "you-mommy".) Hahahahaha!

Pig Woman said...

Hahaha, That one apparently went right ova yer head, S. No. I was speaking to Seesta El. You know. The one in the unflattering pic you posted. snort snoort snoooort

Well, if you had my sense of humor you would think I was really really funny. I know I do.

Goat said...

Har har har--thas what I thought you meant....

And B--I am glad to have the you -mommy definition of umami cleared up. At least now I understand why they seem to think it is essential. I quite agree--if someone else cooks the food it IS more delicious!