|Kikunae Ikeda food science|
- Kikunae Ikeda discovered
- the savory taste, called umami,
- from the chemical monosodium glutamate
- in kelp, tomatoes, meat, and Chinese takeout,
- and added to our list of basic tastes—
- sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and fatty.
- Actually, fattiness is a recent addition.
- More on that later.
Bottling the essence
- Animals and plants didn’t evolve MSG
- so we could find them more savory.
- We evolved to appreciate MSG
- so we would eat what’s good for us.
- Now you can buy it in a bottle
- a white, odorless, crystalline powder,
- and companies process it into food products
- declaring it only as a “flavoring.”
- The basic tastes don’t begin
- to complete a description
- of the human perception of taste.
- The perception of flavor in the mouth
- is mostly our sense of smell,
- and we distinguish ten thousand smells.
- The acids, tannins, alcohols,
- the different sensations other than tastes
- contribute to the complex balance.
- Genetics affect one’s distaste or enjoyment—
- the number of taste buds that speckle one’s mouth
- or how sensitive one is to broccoli bitters.