Sometimes we think we know everything... or at least we think we know enough just so as not to look stupid. Suddenly we read about something and find out that there still things that we do not know. At times like these, the most apt cliche that comes to mind is : we learn something new everyday.
So what was the new thing that I learned last night? Many things actually... but the one that I pick is this : umami.
Apparently, there are five known fundamental tastes in the human palate : sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. I know the first four, of course, as I'm sure all of you do... but umami? Gladwell explains that umami is the proteiny, full-bodied taste of chicken soup, or cured meat, or fish stock, or aged cheese, or mother's milk, or soy sauce, or mushrooms, or seaweed, or cooked tomato. The word is not in my Longman's Dictionary that I keep on the shelf by my desk so I had to look it up online. The online dictionary further explains that the word is of Japanese origin and describes the meaty taste that is produced by amino acids and nucleotides. Perhaps the best example given is that of monosodium glutamate or more famously known as MSG.
Wow... I certainly know that taste. It is something that I have tried avoiding (or at least minimising) for many years. Only that I'm not sure if I can use the word in everyday speech as yet.
Next time someone asks me how does the chicken soup taste, dare I reply... umami?