Friday, September 03, 2010

Umami

"We know sweet, sour, bitter and salty tastes. Umami was introduced to describe the qualities of a meaty taste, the same taste induced by monosodium glutamate. My research traced the first use umami as a fifth taste to the marketing of MSG when it was manufactured as a flavor enhancer after Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo discovered the flavor enhancing properties of glutamic acid in 1909. The manufacture of monosodium glutamate (MSG), made at the time from wheat gluten, was patented by the Ajinomoto Corporation of Japan in 1909. Interestingly the name Ajinomoto means essence of taste. The Ajinomoto company promoted the idea of Umami, the fifth taste. to market MSG. MSG was not well-known in the U.S. until it was marketed as the flavor enhancer Accent after the second world war. The FDA rejected umami as the fifth basic taste in the 1950s, categorizing it as a flavor enhancer."

From John Rowley via Michael Ruhlman

Interesting piece about one of my favorite words: u-ma-mi!

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