Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Five Tastes

When I was in the first grade I remember being taught that there are four tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. I also was taught that each taste corresponded to a different section of the tongue. These are both false. Well, mostly.

The "different sections of the tongue for different tastes" idea is pretty much false. Also, there are different parts of the tongue that have more sensitive taste buds. There are some large taste buds near the back of the tongue that most people don't even use. Those taste buds are more sensitive to flavors than the others. If you talk to a professional food taster, they would tell you that they slowly chew and swish the food around to make sure those buds in the back are coated.

Anyway, back to the flavors. There are now five official tastes that we can experience.

The fifth one is umami.

Never heard of it? Me neither. Apparently, it's the savory, meaty, brothy flavor that MSG brings out. Umami is Japanese for "good flavor" or "good taste."


1 comment:

Masayuki said...

Umami might be one of the most difficult things to translate in to English. To really understand it, just go to Japan and eat a lot of really good food over there.