Monday, February 18, 2013
I first heard mention of umami, the fifth taste that receptor cells on the human tongue can detect, the other four being bitter, salty, sour and sweet, several years ago when I was taking a Fundamentals of Enology class at Napa Valley College. The instructor mentioned umami in passing and then quickly moved on. It didn't seem important, but lately it's been popping up everywhere.
Generally described as being savoury, meaty or brothy, umami can apparently be found in wine. In fact, any food or beverage that undergoes fermentation contains elevated levels of umami. But what does it actually taste of? Don't ask me, I'm really not quite sure. But fear not, the apparently delicious, but elusive taste has been captured in a tube of paste. Laura Santtini's Taste #5 lists as it's three main ingredients; tomato paste, garlic and anchovy paste - the last ingredient most likely responsible for the elevated concentrations of glutamates and ribonucleotides that are supposedly responsible for the umami taste. Mmmm...all sounds so appetising, doesn't it? A quick squeeze of this self described "flavor bomb" may make it into my next batch of Bolognese sauce. Then again, maybe it won't.