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What is Umami? Why the ‘Fifth Taste’ is So Difficult to Describe

By August 17, 2021Featured, In the News
fifth taste

“There’s a lot to learn about the science and history of umami, but you also can learn a lot about it in a functional sense by trying different sources of umami in your meals. If all else fails, just keep a shaker of MSG around for a quick hit of savory, mouthwatering goodness.”

Published in Insider, August 11, 2021
Author: Christine Clark, specialty food writer

More direct quotes from this article:

“When things interact with our tongue, they’re called tastes,” says food scientist Pat Polowsky. “Salt and sour and acid are unique in how they interact with our tongue, they’re simple chemicals that we have channels for. Everything else, meaning sweet, bitter, and umami, we have specific g-coupled protein receptors that are specific to certain compounds.”

“If you don’t know what a g-coupled protein receptor is, that’s okay. Essentially, all our tastes rely on receptors on our tongue, some of which are more complex than others. Umami is one of the more complex tastes.

“Umami, our fifth taste, is a savory or meaty flavor. You may associate it with a Sunday roast, a perfectly charred hamburger, or even Doritos. A bowl of ramen is packed with umami thanks to the seaweed, mushrooms, and soy sauce. A cozy, satisfying bowl of red sauce pasta is also rich in umami, thanks to the tomato.”

Read the full article here.

Related Reading about the Fifth Taste:

seasoning foodHow Can MSG Be the Purest Taste of Umami?
Not only does MSG give dishes a savory, umami taste, but it is considered to be the purest form of umami. Why is that? And what does it even mean?

10 Healthy Foods Packed with Umami TasteUmami Taste
Here are 10 amazing tasting, flavorful, high glutamate containing foods that also provide additional nutritional and health benefits.



The MSGdish Team's goal is to provide timely and important information about glutamate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the many culinary creations inspired by “umami" while connecting these topics to facts about food, taste, and health. The MSGdish Team is comprised of TGA staff professionals who are recognized as experts in science-based nutrition communications. Read more on the About page.

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