A month ago, when we were welcomed by two great chefs in their kitchen in Provence, a slight debate came to interrupt the taste festivities around flavors.
The scene goes like this:
- "And here is a dish that takes up the four primary flavors and the fifth...", says the chef
- "The umami…" I interrupted, sure of myself and wanting to shine in front of my valiant knight who accompanied my evening.
- "No, the blandness", replied the cultured and self-confident chef.
Then ensued a debate on the fifth flavor – it's ok for me if you drop us here I would understand – debate which then consisted in knowing if this last one was the umami or the blandness.
For those who are still with us, a quick return to the flavors that are not debatable. Of course, as you all know, the mouth responds to four primary flavors – flavors not colors – the sweet which is located on the tip of the tongue, the salty which is located right next to either side of the tongue, the bitter localized at the bottom of the mouth a little higher towards the palate and the acid which makes us wince, at the ends of the bottom of the mouth.
If everyone agrees with that, another flavor, it, linked to glutamate and a pleasant taste called "tasty", has been around us for centuries. First detected in garum (fermented fish sauce from Ancient Rome) then reported by Brillat-Savarin as osmazone in 1825, it was a Japanese researcher, Kikunae Ikeda who defined this flavor as its identity and which was recognized as the fifth flavor in 1987 the "umami".
If umami is Japanese, reminiscent of the taste of dashi broth and typical of meat glutamate, what about blandness? Thus, this three-star chef with whom I was debating told me about the blandness of raw fish…did he want to take his revenge on all the sushi masters of Kyoto and decide that their flagship dish was emblematic of a certain neutrality?
Still, the debate took place and it allows me today to share with you the Osso Bucco of the habits and customs of oral pleasures... I think it's time for me to stop there.