At a recent cookout, the host was making margaritas and asking guests if they would like the rim of their glass to be salted. That got me thinking… We add salt rims, sugar syrups, sour mixes and bitters to drinks, but does anyone add umami? Is there this whole other flavor that hasn’t made it into cocktails yet? Of course, many drinks contain ingredients naturally high in glutamate (the amino acid responsible for umami flavor) like tomato juice. Other beverages like sake and aged champagne inherently have high levels of glutamate as well. But is there anyone deliberately adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) to cocktails to intentionally beef up the savory flavor?
As a dietitian, I’m happy to share the science-based information I have on many topics—including monosodium glutamate. There are lots of scientific studies on this ingredient, so there’s no lack of information to provide to people seeking answers to their “MSG problems”. The thing is, people have to be open to hearing the information.
I challenge you to make this summer a “salad summer.” To get you started, I have included below several savory salad dressing recipes and two summer salad recipes that will delight your taste buds, all of which have a touch of umami flavor.
I was at dinner with some friends recently when one of them who had recently found out she was pregnant asked, “Why would my OB/GYN tell me to avoid MSG?” I paused to think about it and then said, “I honestly have no idea. That doesn’t make sense.”
I explained that MSG (monosodium glutamate) is made up of sodium and glutamate, two things that are found in a lot of other foods. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid found in foods like beef, walnuts and mushrooms, and it’s also found in nearly every protein in our bodies.
What does Elvis Presley have to do with one of today’s most talked about food pairings, where savory meets sweet?
How about his love for a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich?
One of the “King’s” favorite sandwiches (and its unusual ingredient combo) was a bit before its time in my opinion. The sweetness of the banana nicely complements the salty of the peanut butter, leaving the bacon to provide the savory/umami taste that makes it all work in sync. You could say that in addition to his music, Elvis clearly took peanut butter and jelly to a whole new level!
What we did not know back then was that one of today’s hottest culinary trends would be combining sweet ingredients with savory ones to yield some “off the taste chart” delicious recipes. Certainly we know what a sweet taste is all about but where does the savory come from? It’s mostly from the umami taste that many foods (like bacon or cheese) provide.