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Airplanes, tomato juice, and the design of umami

19 November 2015
Professor Charles Spence is the Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. He is a cognitive neuroscientist who brings together people with different backgrounds such as marketers, designers, chefs, sensory scientists, composers and psychologists who are interested in utilising the latest insights from the field of neuroscience to help design products, services, environments, foods and packaging with a view to stimulating the senses of the consumer more effectively.
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Did you know...

19 November 2015
The term "umami" is Japanese and can be translated approximately as “tasty”. However, ingredients that give dishes an umami taste are not just used in traditional Japanese cooking. The requirement for the savoury umami taste can be observed worldwide in different cooking traditions, whether it is Spaghetti Bolognese with Parmesan cheese or a hearty stew with meat and legumes. As with yeast extract, these foods have a savoury umami taste due to their natural glutamate content. The Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda first described umami as an independent taste in 1908. He observed that the intensive taste of a Japanese fish stock was unlike any other taste sensation described until then. Meanwhile, umami is an established basic taste along with sweet, salty, bitter and sour for both, top chefs and hobby chefs. Learn more about umami here.
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The discovery of the fifth taste

15 June 2015
The fact that there is a further taste sensation in addition to sweet, sour, bitter and salty was discovered back in 1908 by the Japanese chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda. However, it was not until around 70 years later that this taste gained scientific acceptance under the term umami and became acknowledged as a distinct taste modality.
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The development of umami research

15 June 2015
Dr. Kikunae Ikeda (University of Tokyo, Japan) examined the taste-imparting constituents of “dashi”, a popular Japanese stock made from seaweed. He succeeded in extracting the glutamic acid (a type of amino acid) and in identifying the salt of glutamic acid – glutamate – as being responsible for the umami taste of the stock.
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New findings of medical umami research

15 June 2015
Umami is not only a topic of special interest in the culinary world; research into the medical benefits of umami is also making rapid progress. New scientific findings show that this taste plays a positive role in nutrition and hence in the health of the elderly.
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