Tank Magazine Podcast

The Food Issue: Martha Henriques goes in search of umami or the mysterious, fifth fundamental taste.

Umami, or the mysterious fifth taste, went undiscovered for thousands of years. Its presence makes food taste savoury, not just as the absence of sweetness, but as a particular taste in itself. (Think asparagus, Parmesan or cured meat.) It is a sensation triggered by most of the dishes that we eat. It is something that most of us will taste a few times a day, every day of our lives. So we might expect to be a little more familiar with the idea of umami. And yet, after thousands of years of exposure, it was only just over a century ago that someone noticed it.