You know that feeling when you bite into something and your moth lights up with so many sensations that you fear you may self destruct form the overwhelming deliciousness of what you are eating?
This sensation is known as Umami. For ages I have heard people rave about Umami Burger and I, in my naivety, thought that it was simply a burger chain (which it is) but little did I know at the time how much history and weight the word Umami actually carries.
A while back I was reading a few different books on food and cooking, as well as some of my favorite food blogs, gathering inspiration and pinning favorite recipes, when all of a sudden I realized that I kept seeing this word appear on the page. Umami. Thats strange I thought… Isn’t it just a burger place? Of course my inner curiosity won out and I, like I do with most things, googled it and the result was fascinating!
Umami actually means, a savory taste. Kikunae Ikeda first put together the Japanese word that forms the perfect description of Umami in 1908: umai (うまい) “delicious” and mi (味) “taste”. Scientists debated over it being included as one of the six basic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and metallic) up until 1985 when the very first Umami International Symposium was held in Hawaii, and the term umami was officially recognized as the scientific description for glutamates and nucleotides (a very specific salty sensation).
By it self Umami is not something you would want to nosh on, however, when combined with the appropriate mediums the result is a mouth watering, craving stimulating, longing experience. There are also foods that contain umami naturally (as apposed to adding it to make something taste better, i.e. low sodium soups). Meat and Vegetable broths were the original foods discovered to contain Umami (dashi in particular), but it is also prominent in fish, shellfish, cured meats, vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products (cheeses, shrimp pastes, soy sauce, liquid aminos etc.). This explains so many of your weird cravings, doesn’t it?!
So now, armed with these random factoids, go out into the world and find your Umami state of bliss.