For all of us umami lovers, how could we really live without that umami flavor? That deep, savory note that sets off gustatory happiness in our brain—it’s something we crave as part of a complete flavor experience.
But what I just wrote is not completely true. Experiencing umami flavor is not about a select group of people with heightened tasting abilities or people who are dedicated umami aficionados. Rather, it is about all of us as human beings.
My interest in umami and MSG started in a rather unexpected way. Years ago, I was lecturing in my charcuterie class about various additives used in sausage and other meat preparations. I commented that we would not use MSG in class because it was not “good.” After class, a student from the Philippines asked me what was wrong with MSG. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was along the lines of it being suspect, etc. She had a confused look on her face. This got me wondering if I really understood MSG.
As a chef instructor, I can attest that teaching in the food and culinary arena is no different than any other science-based discipline. I try and impress upon my students that it is our job to create flavors that are complete, compelling, and ultimately satisfying. To do that, we use the equivalent of the painter’s palette, except our palette is filled with interesting tastes, aromas, and textures