Waiter, There’s a Fifth Element in My Soup

This is your tongue on Umami.Photo: npr.com

On the eve of Momofuku Noodle Bar moving its base of operations up the street, NPRs feature today on the fifth sense of umami has a certain timeliness. (In the ramen business, every day is umami day.) The Japanese word for yummy is used to describe the taste of meat, animal fats, cheese, dashi, and other foods in which glutamates have broken down it reflects the savory sensation that everybody likes in chicken soup, ramen broth, and other foods not notably salty, sweet, bitter, or sour. The feature is a kind of combination of Science on the March, with Escoffier standing in for Madame Curie, and a Paul Harvey piece: and that flavor, that scientists said was just a figment, was umami. Now you know the rest of the story.

Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Umami [NPR]