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I love the word UMAMI…just say it a few times, get to know it and then you’ll be saying it over and over in your head. It’s pronounced EW (as in ‘gross’ AND rhimes with GEW – as in ewy gewy) -MOMMIE. Umami sounds like a cartoon, or the name of a character, doesn’t it? What you may or may not know is that it is very much real. It’s a word used to describe one of our five basic tastes: Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Sour…and Umami makes five. The word is universal in all major languages.

Umami says “pleasant savory taste.” It is also used to describe a meal or dish as having a brothy or meaty flavor, with a long lasting bite to it in your mouth and over your tongue.

Umami gets this character from the amino acid L-glutamate and 5 ribonucleotides such as guanosine monophosphate (GMP) and inosine monophosphate (IMP). Foods containing naturally occurring glutamate are meats and vegetables. I find it all so fascinating that one day in 1908, a professor by the name of Kikunae Ikeda discovered its existence. How many more flavors, tastes or descriptions can we find if we really put our minds to it?

MSG has been known for its means of reaching umami, but certainly not the only venue and not a very good choice. For example, a basic tomato sauce has lots of umami, but when you add mushrooms it has considerably more; there is no MSG either way. But, then again, there are debates as to whether MSG is the same as the naturally occurring free glutamates that are found in food. MSG has distinct traits; it can make a person puffy, give them a migraine, make them feel dizzy, dehydrated, and even give them brain fog. The medical community widely advises to stay away from MSG, especially those with ADD/ADHD. Many culinary experts see MSG as a cheap stand-in for high-quality ingredients and good preparation – the mark of a compromised food product or dish. Let’s DUMP the MSG it’s not so umami after all.

Do ME-gans experience the secret flavor of umami? Sure! For example, try drizzling gluten free tamari sauce over marinara. This powerhouse fifth flavor will kick your Italian delicacy into a new dimension. Being that many people struggle to define umami, the terms most often used are:  savory, meaty or rich. Roasted shiitake mushrooms often own up to the description.

Lately, umami has taken on the reputation as being exotic and therefore causing a rise in interest, creating this wave in ‘all things umami.’ I can see it now, a group of sassy girls walking down Rodeo Drive, spot a dress in the window – its colors are breath-taking, it jumps out at them and screams “it’s all about YOU!”… they have no idea what the price tag reads and don’t care. They look at each other and scream “It’s umami!!” and all run in to try it on. Hahahahaaa, right? Can’t you just see the word expanding to not only mean unique & awesome in flavor, but in all things? I sure do! Or how about this, your best friend calls you up Thursday afternoon and says “Trevor, what are you doing this weekend? We have to take a trip up the coast in my new car, it’s umami!” LOL!!

I found this recipe today that sounds so YUMMY, I think I will try it and experience the umami buzz! Here’s the link, perhaps you’ll want to sample it too! Click here: Mushroom-Chickpea Burger.

Umami-ME-gan-FLAVORY love to you!

Mary

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