The food industry cottoned onto this one a long time ago – UMAMI – the wow taste factor that makes us feel satisfied with what we are eating. It is a taste alongside sweet, salty, bitter and sour, that the Japanese named ‘umami’ translated as something like ‘pleasant savoury taste’.
Chemically it is glutamate – but in order to try and recreate it, the food industry invented monosodium glutamate which is added to many foods including stocks, soups, crisps and a lot of Chinese food.
Maybe you have also suffered from Chinese restaurant syndrome?
I discovered that I have a serious allergic reaction to it about 20 years ago, when we went to a Chinese restaurant and afterwards I missed an amazing show in London because of the effects.
So to avoid any repeat performances I make sure that MSG or E621 is not present in anything I eat.
But natural umami is worth adding to your meals and will give a feeling of hitting the spot – good satisfaction with what you have eaten. So how do you get it? Here are a few examples:
- Sun-dried tomatoes or other ripe and ‘beefy’ tomatoes
- Mushrooms – especially shiitake and dried mushrooms like porcini
- Balsamic vinegar
- Parmesan and other aged cheeses
- Fermented foods (sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, soy sauce)
- roasting or grilling helps – so roast your pumpkin seeds or nuts before sprinkling on a salad
- Seaweeds and sea vegetables
So cut out the middle man (industry) and create your own umami – see how it influences your level of satisfaction with your meal…
What’s your favourite?