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Posts Tagged ‘science’

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter… I’m sure you’re wondering what the roadmap of my typical workday mood decline has to do with food.

Incidentally, these are also the names of the flavors most familiar to Western palates. But as is the case in so many instances, Eastern civilizations have had knowledge of something slightly more sophisticated for centuries and the rest of us are now playing catch up. In this case, the topic is a fifth flavor and its name is umami.

Hola, umami

Hola, umami

Thanks to their cultural fondness for foods like seaweed and soy, Chinese and Japanese diners have, at least subjectively, known about this fifth flavor for countless generations. Even Brillat-Savarin hit upon it when he referred to “osmazome”, the “essence of meat” that he required for many soups and stews. And some time around 2007, this “new” flavor finally began to eke its way into North American vocabularies.

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By Zeus!

“Open your mouth and shut your eyes and see what Zeus will send you.” – Aristophanes

Another weekend of thunderstorms is rolling in over the Eastern seaboard right now and the air is suddenly the ominous khaki green color of impending lightning. As a native West Coaster, I haven’t yet gotten over the thrill of a truly frightening New England summer storm. I love lightning with the feral passion that only a person who has never been struck by lightning can possess.

"But that's another story, nevermind, anyway..."

"But that's another story, nevermind, anyway..."

When I think of lightning strikes, it conjures images of electrocution and woodland blazes and animals with their fur standing comically on end. I hadn’t really thought of it so much as a life giving force before. But scientists think it may have played a crucial role in helping life spring forth from our planet. Let’s see if I can make any sense of this.

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