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.
For those of you who love to cook, but also find yourself perpetually curious about the “why’s” of a particular technique or specific ingredient, you may already be familiar with some of the writings and videos of food scientist Harold McGee. I’ll confess, I was unaware until a friend sent me an entertaining video about MSG (yes, monosodium glutamate) that was posted on the Fine Dining Lovers site.
Have you had your salad today? According to health experts, eating salad almost every day may be one of the healthiest habits you can have. And, of course, eating salads is one of the simplest ways to eat more fruits and vegetables, which contributes to overall health.
Here are a dozen fun facts about salads, and some savory salad recipes.
In her recent blog, registered dietitian Regan Jones, co-founder of the popular “Healthy Aperture” food blog photo-sharing site, helps us understand why grilled cheese is so good. Here’s what she says:
“The humble grilled cheese is one of those foods that we cherish as a child, but never really think about “why” it has so much control over our taste buds. I recently learned that the pull of that savory pile of cheese and toasted bread may have more to do with science than you ever imagined. It’s because of the 5th flavor, umami, and specifically an amino acid (glutamate) which tickles our taste buds into experiencing the unique flavor. In fact, we’re born with specific receptors on our tongue for umami with glutamate being the main trigger for the receptors.”
“It’s hard to put into words what umami tastes like, but if you think about the flavor of a warm aged cheese (like that of a good grilled cheese), you’ll quickly salivate your way to understanding umami.”