What's YOUR Opinion; Umame, is it real?
So what do you think, is umame real or just a very successful "Emperor's New Clothes" style advertising campaign?
Personally, I can't give an informed opinion because I have yet to eat a dish that claimed to feature that particular "flavor".
It's umami and it isn't a flavor. It is one of the five basic tastes (like sweet, salty, bitter, sour). The taste is a reaction to L-glutamate:
Since I haven't seen it used in advertising campaigns except for Kikkoman soy sauce, I'm puzzled by why you think it is a very successful advertising campaign. What other advertising have you seen it used in?
re: Just Visiting
<The taste is a reaction to L-glutamate>
Just want to clarify that L-glutamate gives a strong "umami" taste, but it is not the only amino acid which triggers this umami taste.
"Umami is the taste quality associated with several amino acids, especially the amino acid L-glutamate. "
"We demonstrate that T1R1 and T1R3 combine to function as a broadly tuned l-amino-acid sensor responding to most of the 20 standard amino acids..."
<I'm puzzled by why you think it is a very successful advertising campaign.>
Considering how many people testify that they hate the artificially added MSG, we really have both like and dislike witnesses for this taste.
For me, umami IS real.
It's the depth in a grilled mushroom, past woodsy and into savoury;
it's the part of soy sauce between "dark" and "salt;"
it's what makes me say "this tastes like a real tomato!";
it's why I savour ikura;
it's the other full flavour in a baked sweet potato beyond sweet and baked and salt and butter;
it's the edge of parmesan cheese that isn't fat-sweet-sour-bitter-salty
I know people who, when asked about tastes, say "it tastes like a 'fresh tomato'" without any other way to describe it.
Or "It's cheese-- it tastes like CHEESE."
I think a vocabulary word they are missing IS umami.
Reader's Digest [yes, really] has an informative slide show here:
It is real. It isn't just Emperor's New Clothes (and why would it?). It has been shown that our tongues have receptors for the so called umami.
Let me put it this way. Prior to the classification of umami, it was believed in Europe that all tastes (anything you can taste) can be deconstructed to four basic tastes: saltiness, sweetness, sourness and bitterness. If you have ever eaten meat before, then you would have realized that there is this "meat" taste which is not these four tastes. Many realized something is missing because they can feel there is something which cannot be constructed from these four tastes. This is later called umami.
You've probably eaten many dishes that have that particular "taste" as it's a component of many common dishes. I "believe" in umami as I'm not sure what's not to believe in. As an aged cheese, tomato-loving, mushroom-addict, meatatarian I think I have my fair share of glutamate receptors :)