There are bona fide experts throughout the culinary world who achieved knowledge and skills in their profession after intensive training (and even certification). For example, a sommelier is a highly trained and knowledgeable wine professional who specializes in all facets of wine service as well as wine and food pairing.
However, there are also those of us who simply love wine and possess a significant amount of knowledge about it. A wine lover with no formal training is known as an “oenophile.” I’m sure you will agree there are many more oenophiles in the world than there are sommeliers.
Similar to oenophiles, many of us profess to be experts on umami, so we are going to playfully coin the term “Umami Master,” a person who would be very knowledgeable in that they could know facts about umami, identify the savory taste of umami, and thoroughly enjoy this savory fifth taste in foods.
To help determine if you might be an umami novice or a seasoned “Umami Master,” here’s a short quiz to test your knowledge of “all things umami.” Give it a shot!
Did you know “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” was invented in 1968? Not identified, not discovered, not researched, but yep, invented.
Before 1968, Americans loved monosodium glutamate. The “new” condiment was introduced to the U.S. just 30 years prior and was added to a variety of foods to enrich flavors. The American public embraced it with open arms until… Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a speculative letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.
With warmer weather just around the corner, many consumers are turning to lighter meals in anticipation of shedding winter clothes. Some of the less-filling lunches and dinners my family loves include anything made with white meat chicken. Not only does chicken have a welcoming savory flavor, it is an economical protein source.
Not to dismiss our love of chicken wings and fried chicken (they are still favorites), it is common to find one of several chicken salad recipes being made in our kitchen.
But don’t let the term “salad” confuse you. Chicken salad can be many things, including but certainly not limited to, a bowl of spring greens topped with fried chicken tenders. “Chicken salads” are much more than that.
Ketchup is probably my favorite condiment. I use it in cooking (e.g., meatloaf, my famous baked beans, let’s not forget sloppy Joe’s), on sandwiches (a must-have on grilled hot dogs and hamburgers) and in a variety of other ways (I should confess I can’t eat French fries without lots of it, but you probably could’ve guessed that at this point!). When my love of ketchup first began, little did I know that it was likely in part because of my love of tomatoes, which provides an undeniable umami taste.
We here at MSGdish love recounting the story of Dr. Kikunae Ikeda’s original discovery of the little crystals that would one day became known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). While Ikeda certainly did not invent the umami taste– it has been in the foods of many cultures for centuries– he was the first to distill the crystallized form of umami so that it could be used in an even wider variety of foods! You see, before Dr. Ikeda, there was no simple way to sprinkle pure umami seasoning on food.