Taste allows enjoyment. Classic base flavors include sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But in 1908, chemist Kikunae Ikeda of Imperial University in Tokyo discovered that MSG was responsible for a different taste than the four. Ikeda found the responsible link in moss combo, she said umami – “Delicious” in Japanese – Patented. Just a year later, MSG was marketed under the trade name Aji-No-Moto, which means “essence of taste.”
Hardly anyone in the West has shown any interest in this. That changed only when molecular biologists discovered the corresponding receptor nearly a century later, but in the meantime, it’s gained a really bad reputation as monosodium glutamate, also known as the additive E621. Error. Because even if most people don’t know: umami is widespread.
Umami can be found in mushrooms, Spanish ham, Parmesan cheese, and, oddly enough, in breast milk. It is the typical taste of meat and fish extracts, which is why beef, pork and lamb are so popular among the population as soy sauce.
The so-called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” does not exist
So why did umami fall into notoriety? The reason is a letter that may not have been taken seriously, but it was a joke among medical professionals. the message, Published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” under the title “Monosodium Glutamate and the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”, It was only a few paragraphs long. “For several years since I’ve been in this country, I’ve had a strange syndrome when I eat in a Chinese restaurant,” author Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote. Symptoms included “numbness in the neck that spreads gradually to the arms and back, and general weakness and palpitations.” He speculated that sodium in food, something in soy sauce or in cooking wine could be the culprit. Or because of monosodium glutamate “which is widely used in Chinese restaurants as a seasoning”.
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