Umami Mania

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I added a post to our blog.

I’ve been meaning to write this one about umami if for nothing else than just to post this picture:

Okay.  Thank you for indulging me.  I’m glad I got that joke out of my system.  whew!

The images above are from pamphlets that I collected when I visited the Restaurant Show in NYC.  The baby’s expressions are reactions to trying the different tastes.  Evidently, babies are happy with sweet and umami but kinda raise a stink at sour and bitter.  Which really, doesn’t seem like rocket science but now it is documented and therefore, fact.

So, if you don’t know what umami is, it’s the official 5th taste in the culinary world.  There is sweet, sour, bitter, salty and now, umami.  You many have heard this word before but do you know what it is?  Would you be able to eat something and say, “whoa!  that is way too umami?”  I think I can now!

Umami can be described as beefy, or mushroom-y.  Kinda earthy.  Tomatoes are umami.  Cheese is umami.  Kombu (seaweed) and dashi (the base with which most Japanese broths are made) are umami.   It is a savory taste that is found in glutamate.

There is umami seasoning that you can buy – used to be that MSG would provide this taste but since MSG has fallen out of favor with the health conscious, there are other glutamates (the G in MSG) that enhance the natural umami flavor of foods.  The Restaurant Show had taste test comparisons of french fries seasoned with salt and those seasoned with umami seasoning.  Both good.  Umami season has 30% less sodium.  There was also soy sauce that was seasoned with dashi (which is rich in umami flavor) that made sushi even more divine.

Would you like some umami with that?

So next time you are chowing down on burgers at the Shake Shack or In-N-Out or even a Five Guys, slow down and enjoy the umami.


Restaurant Show

Bob & I visited the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show yesterday at the Javits Center in NYC.  We had exhibited there before and we thought it would be good to see what the new trends were in Japanese food and food service.  Plus, there was a section called the Japan Pavilion so how could we not go?


pretty bottles of shochu!

The show was a lot smaller than I thought it would be but it was packed.  You know how they say people can’t pass up a free meal?  Well the admission was not free but holy cow, you would have thought people had been saving their appetite for days just to get some freebies.  It was worse than Costco on a Saturday afternoon when they crank out samples of Pizza Bites or something.  Granted, the food samples at the Restaurant Show were much tastier than microwaveable frozen snacks but still, it was not pretty.  I mean, how many samples of bagels does one need?  We’re in New York!!



Cafettone by PreGel. so good.

And yes, I was not immune from this free-for-all lack of decorum.  I swear, it’s the mob mentality.  You see a line of people waiting for a sample of something and you have to get one too!  That’s what happened to Bob and the crepes.  And really, it wasn’t worth the calories.  I got stuck at the PreGel booth.  I have to mention them because they had samples of 3 different types of frozen dessert and I waited for each one.  The first was a Marscapone  Caffettone (frozen yogurty type thing but very creamy and rich) with an espresso swirl.  Then we went to other side of the booth and had some gelato (mango flavored) and then we went to yet another part of the booth and had a frozen yogurt (dark chocolate).   They were all very good.

And this was all after we walked through the Japan Pavillion and had 3 types of ramen samples, beer sample, sake sample, Muscat drink sample (which by the way is the bee’s knees – I must find more!), miso soup sample and of course the sushi sample.  Well, it was actually 2 pieces of a maki roll one with regular soy sauce and the other with soy sauce that had dashi in it.  Bob ate them both (for the sake of accurate taste testing) and the booth folks didn’t even offer me any.  I don’t need your umami anyway!

Muscat Love. Yummy cider from Japan.

So after the Japan Pavillion, we walked through the rest of the show and we ate more.  I thought about partaking of the wine samples that were at the other end of the show but I passed.  Not sure why as wine is my favorite thing – I think I finally realized that I had had more than enough at that point.

Besides, I think we were there to work….