January Newsletter 2016

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Newsletter | 0 comments

Six Flavors

I am contemplating going vegetarian for a while. It’s not about giving up steak, good sausages and bacon – it’s about trying to understand the cuisine of India. It is highly complex and regional. It is personal, as food is a facet of the culture of the Indian subcontinent and a huge part of a holistic approach to health and well-being across many social and religious groups. In doing my research, I came across the Hindu concept of Ayurveda. This is an ancient system of medicine, and some in the modern world consider its teachings to be an alternative form of healthcare. The most interesting part is the concept of six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The Western world accepted the five tastes of umami, so why haven’t we accepted this idea of the six? Is it a conspiracy?

Some may argue, and I will say it too – we really need to consider seven flavors. The big four (sweet, sour, salty and bitter) ruled the league for many years, and then expansion brought umami to challenge the establishment. We had to throw away all the teachings derived from those pictures of colored tongues. It must have thrown a few culinary schools for a loop. Then we had to discuss MSG and glutamates. How could we! We have all admitted to ordering Chinese food over the holidays because we are too tired to cook. MSG was the cause of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrom.” The savory taste of soy, shiitake and seaweed were a whole level of flavor that we couldn’t wrap our head around for years, but we liked it. It was the presence of these natural glutamates that allowed Kikunae Ikeda to figure out the processing of MSG in 1909. It is not surprising we love pizza in this country. Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and aged pepperoni all have a huge amount of glutamate that helps to make pizza addictive. Have you ever just eaten one slice?

January Newsletter

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