All posts tagged: umami

TASTES

There are four basic tastes – salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Many scientieist and modern food writers now add a fifth flavour – umami.  The word derives from the Japanese “umai” meaning “tasty” but in many respects umami is either an oxymoron “tasty-taste” (surely not!)  or unhelpful, “delicious” taste? Deliciousness is not just the reserve of this new taste – sweet, sour and bitter dishes, afterall, can be equally delicious. Savoury would be a better translation of what scientists (and as we shall see later industry) are trying to persuade us is the fifth taste. Savoury is a word well understood by everyone in the English speaking world and in most people’s mind savoury is deemed a salty taste not a separate taste – and for good reason. Savoury dishes can not exist without salt and salt on it’s own requires a savoury flavour to be palatable. Indeed, the on-line Oxford English Dictionary states that “savoury” “belongs to a category which is salty or spicy rather than sweet.” Thus for linguistic, as opposed to scientific …

SAVOURY

All savoury dishes are salty. A dish that tastes purely of salt without the savoury is unlovable rather like that mouthful of sea-water accidently swallowed on a sea-side holiday. Similarly, a savoury meal without any salt added is a sad culinary affair. Salt and savoury are like the ying and yang of the taste emporium, they are two sides of the same coin, the left hand and the right hand; different yet totally dependant on one another to deliver the ultimate taste experience in the realm of salty dishes. A leek soup made with water is the stuff of Victorian workhouses; the proverbial “watery” gruel that is a symbol of derision. Add a simple bone broth and the soup is transformed, as if my magic, into a warm, comfort food perfectly fit to grace the table of Royalty. Savoury flavours abound in all meat dishes (particularly in bacon), stews, bone-broths and interestingly non-sour fermented foods such as cheeses, cured meats (salami) and cured anchovies. If salt accentuates flavours in bold then savouriness as Michael Polan so …