Article first published as Umami Baby! on Blogcritics.
Remember when the earth was flat? Life was simpler then. Three channels and always something to watch. Then color was invented, life got more complicated, and now they tell me my tongue needs upgrading. Who knew? I blame Walt Disney.
Sweet, salt, sour and bitter – only four kinds of taste buds. All you sweet buds over on that side of the tongue. Salt buds over here. Bitter buds, you go that direction and sour buds, you go… excuse me? Umami? You’re not from around here are you?
To be truthful, I’d heard rumors of a possible five. But I thought it was just crazy talk. Sure, there’s spicy. Mexican food is spicy. And so is kung pao chicken when you get one of this little red things by mistake.
But I never considered spicy to be a flavor. This umami thing took me completely by surprise. And they tell me umami isn’t even spicy, it’s, well, it’s savory. Whatever that means.
If this is the first you’ve heard of it, then I know it’s a shocker. But nobody says you have to get the transplant today. Let’s just read the brochure and think about it. I’ve heard there’s a shortage of penta-tongues anyway.
I’ve given it some thought, and I think I have a plan to nip this thing in the bud. Get it? Nip it in the bud. LOL. Basically, we have two options: (1) We can kick out bitter or (2) We can wear them down with ridiculous suggestions.
Option One: Kick out bitter. The choice is obvious. We need sweet to make coffee drinkable in the morning, salt to put on potato chips and sour, because, well because a lot of kids like that awful tasting candy. But bitter? What’s it good for? I looked it up.
The best thing you can say about bitter is that it let’s you know when you’ve taken poison. Believe me, taste is the last thing you should worry about if you have poison in your mouth.
So, if they accept our offer to kick out bitter and replace it with umami then we’ll still have four. Granted, not the original four. But how many rock bands still tour with all of their original members, huh?
If they don’t go for Option One then we hit ’em with Option Two. The first thing we should offer up is spicy. Only I think we should insist on calling it caliente. That would give us not five, but six tastes.
And then, just as they’re about to sign the paperwork, we hit ‘em with dorito. Catch my drift? And then, what about glow-in-the-dark? You know, the flavor of non-dairy liquid cheese food you put on nachos at 7-11. We might have to shorten it a bit. Maybe call it glowlicious.
So what do you think? Do we have a plan? Great! I think we should celebrate. Have some wine. Pardon? Do I think it tastes oaky? You mean, like from Muskogee?