What is umami?
We all know there are four basic tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, salty. Did you know there’s a fifth taste?
You do if you’ve tried our Accent Flavor Enhancer. It actually provides that savory fifth taste called “umami.” Here is how umami came about:
Scientists and chefs knew for a long time there were four basic tastes, and then almost simultaneously, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a well-respected French chef and a Japanese chemist discovered that we indeed have a fifth taste as well.
French chef Auguste Escoffier created veal stock, and noticed that it wasn’t sweet, sour, salty or bitter or even a combination. It was something else. Across the world, Kikunae Ikeda ate a bowl of dashi soup and had a similar sensation.
Ikeda wrote that what he was tasting was “common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat but… not one of the four well-known tastes.” So, he chemically dissected the ingredients of dashi and discovered what was responsible for this new taste sensation—glutamic acid. And he gave it the name “umami.”
In Japanese, “umami” means yummy or delicious. Over time, other scientists and researchers confirmed Escoffier’s and Ikeda’s findings and named the flavor “umami” in Ikeda’s honor.
You may not realize umami is in your food, but it is often what makes the food savory and delicious. So next time you taste something that’s not sweet, sour, bitter or salty, know that what you’re experiencing is likely umami.