dcsimg

Umami, Part I: An In Depth Look at Umami & Its Role in the Culinary Arts

by Jane Greer
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

Umami = Great Taste


For thousands of years, scientific wisdom had it that the human tongue can detect four main "tastes": sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. In 1996, scientists proved that a fifth taste, called umami (pronounced oo-MA-mee), is also detectable by human taste receptors.

Umami is usually associated with high-protein foods such as meat, but is also present in seafood, many vegetables, wine, and even green tea. Worldwide understanding of umami is new, but food with umami has been around forever.

Chef Escoffier's Veal Stock: Full of Umami


Many culinary students know that in the 1880s, world-famous French chef Auguste Escoffier revolutionized the culinary world by creating veal stock (veal bones, water, wine, and seasonings, intensified by reduction). The stock had a deep, rich flavor unlike anything Parisians had ever tasted. This flavor was umami. <

How Umami Got Its Name


Early in the 20th century, a Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda ate a bowl of soup containing seaweed and noticed that its deliciousness could not be called sweet, salty, sour, or bitter. Ikeda called the taste umami, Japanese for "delicious," conducted experiments, and discovered that the flavor was the result of a high concentration of glutamate in the seaweed. He went on to develop crystallized monosodium glutamate, which--as MSG--is still a popular flavor enhancer.

Umami Taste Receptors Help Us Survive


In 1996, American researchers discovered that the human tongue has taste receptor cells created especially to detect umami. Scientists believe that umami is what tells humans to eat and enjoy protein, which is necessary for survival.

So for chefs, culinary students, and foodies, the good news is that human beings are designed to love pizza loaded with umami-rich foods--aged cheese, cured meats, tomatoes, and mushrooms. It's beautiful thing!

Sources
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
National Public Radio
Umami Information Center
Wall Street Journal



About the Author

Jane Greer is a freelance writer and editor and is also brave enough to teach English grammar at a community college.
Culinary Art Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Matching School Ads
            Culinary Arts
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            B.S. in Hospitality Management
            • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
            • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
            • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
            • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
            • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
            • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management

            Founded in 1869 as a land-grant school, the University is known today for its prolific faculty as well as a record of distinguished research and achievement in aerospace, engineering, technology, science, and math.

            • Online Courses
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining: campus food can be both healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 colleges where you might actually enjoy getting your grub on.
            Four International Cuisines Influencing the American Foodscape
            Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of America's culinary landscape, and none more so than these perennial favorites.
            5 Ethnic Cuisines for Serious Foodies
            Love food? Want to broaden your culinary horizons? These five international cuisines might be an excellent starting place.
            Healthy home cooked meals can improve health, longevity and family social community
            Read how cooking at home rather than eating out can help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer and improve family dynamics. Not only has cooking at home become the hip choice, it's also become the smart choice.