When you get interested into taste, you will pretty soon walk into something called “Umami”.
Yes, umami, the fifth taste, next to bitter, sweet, acid and salty. It was first described in 1908 by the Japanese professor Kikunae Ikeda and until the 1980ies most people believed only Asians could recognize this taste with a strange name. Not at all! Everyone can taste umami, no matter where he or she lives or comes from. But what really is umami? Umami mostly is being described as a pleasant “savoury” taste (savoury also being the translation of the Japanese word umami).
You can find umami taste in meat and fish, but also in cheese and other dairy products or in certain mushrooms. Already at the end of the 18th century the French “food philosopher” Brillat-Savarin was thinking about a molecule he called “Osmazôme”, which he thought to be the origin of the taste and smell of meat.
We can taste umami because of the interaction between specific taste buds and glutamate, an amino acid a part of almost all proteins we eat. Science suggests that umami taste might have been very useful to our ancestors, helping them to find protein-rich food.
Nevertheless, the world has changed and nowadays we more appreciate umami because… well, just because it’s “savoury”!
That’s what the people at Waitrose must have had in mind when they introduced the latest taste-invention of the gifted British Italian chef Laura Santini: TASTE N° 5.
Based on Italian flavours like tomato, Parmigianino and boletus mushrooms and some other secret ingredients, the umami-like tasty paste should enhance savouriness of all dishes!
Now Auguste Gusteaus dream from Disneys “Ratatouille” might finally become true: Everyone can cook…!