It’s Not MSG, It’s Delicious

13 Dec

There’s a new taste in town and it’s delicious. I mean, literally. The powers that be have decided that “Delicious” is a new taste. Right alongside other tastes like Salty, Sweet, Bitter and Sour.

Yes, indeed, you read that right. Delicious is a new taste. Except, of course, that sounds stupid. So the titans of the food industry, such as Frito Lay and Campbell’s Soup (heh heh), are doing what the titans of every industry do when they’re trying to convince you that their dumb idea is not as stupid as it sounds: they’re calling it something else. Umami (oo-MA-mee), to be precise. Which is Japanese for… you guessed it, delicious!

Apparently, one hundred long years ago, a Japanese gentleman by the name of Kikunae Ikeda found that foods rich in glutamate had an unique taste, which he found delicious. Being Japanese, he obviously called it umami. A scientist, Mr. Ikeda went on to replicate this umami taste in chemical form – you and I know it today as MonoSodium Glutamate (MSG). Millions of people have been using it to lend their food, especially Asian food, some umami-ness ever since.

MSG, of course, has earned something of a bad rep in the 98 years it has been in production. Now, the Wall Street Journal weighs in:

For years, Western chefs and food scientists debated whether umami was a true taste, as fundamental to the sensory system as sweet or sour. That changed in 2000 when scientists at the University of Miami published a study — partly funded by Ajinomoto — identifying receptors on the tongue with no purpose other than to recognize the presence of glutamate. Subsequent studies, some funded by the ingredient industry and others without industry funding, identified other umami receptors.

A “study – partly funded by Ajinomoto”. :mrgreen: I’ve been waiting all my life to hear that phrase. Delicious! Find ten delicious examples of umami here, including such mind-boggling items as Parmesan cheese and wine. That’s right! Cheese and wine! It’s umami! Who’d have ever thunk it?!


Posted by on December 13, 2007 in Life


5 responses to “It’s Not MSG, It’s Delicious

  1. DesiGirl

    December 13, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    1.How, no, why would you hear about that?
    2.This actually makes sense to those with lotsa dough? Why not give it to me? I could put it to more creative use!

    Q1. wait – this is you, of course! So scratch that! Go with just q2.

  2. lekhni

    December 14, 2007 at 1:45 pm


    Did you know there is a sixth taste as well? It’s called “fattiness”. I’m guessing that’s the taste of unsalted butter or, I am not making this up. Here’s the American Chemical Society talking about it:

  3. Shantanu

    December 14, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    This is indeed a revelation! Thanks for sharing…. 🙂

  4. Amrita

    December 14, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Shantanu – only too glad to share the umaminess!

    Lekhni – HHAAAHA! Well, I guess Frito Lay aren’t going to admit to using that study in their quest to improve Doritos. Thanks for the link!

    DG – It makes a lot of sense to people who wanna get you hooked to their fatty products with zero nutritional value, yes 😀

  5. Jawahara

    December 15, 2007 at 7:23 am


    Hey Amrita, I don’t have your email addy to send you the story. Can you email it to me?

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