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Umami: The Fifth Taste
Apr 28th, 2016

Umami: The Fifth Taste

It's subtle yet savory. And for a long time, it didn't have a name.

Greek philosophers came up with 4 primary tastes some 3000 years ago. For millennia sweet, sour, salty, and bitter seemed to be the 4 sufficient ways to label the way food stimulates our tastebuds.

But in the late 19th century, a French chef named Auguste Escoffier created a veal stock and stumbled upon what foodies and scientists — and food scientists — call the "fifth taste."

Chefs began to include Escoffier's invention into dishes and sauces, and it seemed to make everything taste better. Recipes became more savory and satisfying. There was a new level of complexity. It wasn't bitter. Or salty. Or sweet. Or sour.

Umami was born.

But umami isn't a French word. It's Japanese, and it literally means "deliciousness."

Around that same time, thousands of miles away, a similar movement to identify the 5th taste was happening. The Japanese used seaweed stock to get the best flavor from their food. Umami is the name Japanese food researcher Kikunae Ikeda offered in 1908 when he set out to identify this new and distinct taste dynamic. Ikeda discovered that the source of umami is glutamate, or glutamic acid, which naturally occurs in certain savory foods.

Would you know it if you tasted it?

Because the taste of umami is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don't recognize umami when they encounter it. But it plays an important role in making food delicious.

So for a limited time, from May 1st to June 30th, Nalley Fresh presents The Umami Bowl. Come discover the 5th taste! Here's Chef Greg to give you a sneak peek...