I know what I think when I hear the term “savory” as it pertains to food. What pops into your mind?
According to traditional online dictionaries, “savory” is described as:
-pleasing to the sense of taste, especially by reason of effective seasoning
-having a spicy or salty quality without sweetness
Well, those of us here at MSGdish think it’s about time these dictionaries update their databases and include definitions for savory as also being the “fifth taste” or “umami.” We talk about it all the time in our blogs, and it’s very trendy with chefs and culinary professionals.
As a chef, it is my business to create memorable dining experiences and food that is unforgettable. Crafting dishes that really wow the guest is a creative endeavor that involves all the senses.
Disregarding even one sense will lessen the overall impact and success of the dish. When I create a dish, I consider its appearance. Is it colorful, well-proportioned with various shapes, balanced between negative and positive space, well-designed, and generally attractive?
Creative ways to eat Thanksgiving leftovers like cranberry sauce, stuffing, turkey, gravy, and macaroni and cheese.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… THANKSGIVING!
Because of the food of course! The annual fanfare over Thanksgiving food far surpasses that of any of the other American holidays. Thanksgiving is when umami junkies like all of us at MSGdish get our fill! I can already just imagine that first bite of four cheese macaroni and cheese with the extra aged parmesan—we wait all year for moments like this.
My journey into cooking with umami and my understanding of MSG started in a surprising way. I was teaching charcuterie at a top culinary school. My class started at 6 AM with a short lecture in that first early hour of class. It was the day when the lecture covered various food additives that find their way into meat systems. Along the way, I made the comment that we were not going to be cooking with MSG. It was a “fact” that I had heard and simply accepted as such. After class, a Filipino student asked me what was wrong with MSG. I said something like “Well, you know it is not good for you.” (How I wish that I had been a better teacher on that day as I was teaching from a lack of knowledge—never a good idea.) My student responded that she did not understand as her mother used MSG every day in their kitchen at home.
I recently attended the first World Umami Forum in NYC. I was outside on a break, and a man not attending the event saw my ID tag and out of the blue, said, “I love umami. It’s my favorite flavor.”
Would he have said that “MSG” was his favorite flavor? Probably not, but he could have. MSG – specifically the “G”, for “glutamate” – is what’s responsible for the powerful appeal of umami flavor.