I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the world of food, but I would say that I’m pretty knowledgeable for the average person. Although, start explaining to me what foie gras is and I might have to stop you. So when I tried to describe the Uni Green Tea Noodles (at Gaijin Noodle + Sake House) to a friend, I was surprised at my loss of words. It’s rich, it’s not really salty, but it isn’t any of the other three tastes either. It’s just really good.
When we eat food, we’re discovering and hopefully enjoying the tastes that we’re taking in. We all know the official tastes don’t we? Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and….umami? If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “what the hell is umami?” Umami was discovered in 1908 by Japanese professor and chemist Kikunae Ikeda. Umami, derived from umai ”delicious” and mi ”taste”, is pretty much that taste that makes you say, “yum.” Imagine savory. Ikeda was eating a bowl of dashi when he became curious about the 5th taste (FWI dashi can be compared to stocks and broth). Ikeda later discover that unami was coming from glutamic acid, common in fish, meats, cheese, and other aged and fermented products. So if you ever need a word to describe that mouth watering food that isn’t quite sweet, sour, bitter, or salty…holler at unami.