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Food + Cooking

The U-Bomb


The Mushroom Council sent me an interesting press release that I thought I’d share. It proclaims that mushrooms are the king of umami. Umami is the fifth taste, sometimes defined as "savory." Besides salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, there is umami. I won’t bore you with a lengthy explanation of umami, because it has to do with glutamate receptors. However, in a succinct and less than scientific nutshell, one could say that umami is Mother Nature’s MSG. Umami ingredients (such as mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano, anchovies, red bell peppers, and ketchup) have a savory, meaty taste that boosts and rounds out other flavors. According to the Mushroom Council, combining umami ingredients creates such a burst of flavor it’s called a "U-bomb." Another descriptive used on occasion in the test kitchen, coined by Zanne Stewart, is "gymsocky." It describes an unpleasant taste somewhat cheesy, somewhat sour, reminiscent of an old gym sock. It’s no "U-bomb."