Salty, sweet and delicious: salted caramel Zumbarons.
I searched for Australia’s favourite yeast extract on the Cadbury website and this was the response:
You are searching for: Vegemite
There are no pages that contain the search term “Vegemite”
I was surprised. It was only four months since Cadbury had launched its milk chocolate block filled with Vegemite-flavoured caramel, and there was no mention of it. (However, there is still plenty of evidence on the Cadbury Facebook page to confirm the product did exist.)
During the period when the Vegemite chocolate block was still around, I was never able to find it in my local supermarket. I admit that I didn’t venture further afield but, knowing the popularity of salty-plus-sweet, I imagined this new confectionary line would be highly successful.
After all, the salted caramel flavour is everywhere. Back in December 2008, writer Kim Severson labelled it “the flavour of the year” and traced its history in a New York Times article, “How Caramel Developed a Taste for Salt”.
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Truffle butter under the breast skin, grated truffle added during cooking.
One wintery evening in Canberra, I tried a beer brewed with truffles and spices. It tasted like a gorgeous big slice of Christmas cake but, amid the other flavours, I couldn’t find the truffles.
But, up to then, I had never tasted the mysterious fungus. Of course, I had been reading about it for years. But no description was able to convey to me what truffles smelled like, or what they tasted like. Ultimately, language—no matter how subtle and dexterous—cannot capture an experience accurately enough to allow someone else to live it.
So, during winter 2013, I went on-line and ordered a truffle. Yes, it was expensive, but when compared to a truffle dinner at a restaurant, it was affordable.
Dashi, seaweed, fish sauce, cooked tomatoes … and especially Vegemite.
All are rich in umami flavours.
(Originally posted on Sensorium, July 9 2014)
While sweet-sour-bitter-salty flavours were identified as basic flavours thousand of years ago, writes Larissa Dubecki, umami was not identified until 1909.
The person who identified and named the flavour was Japanese professor Kikunae Ikeda, who then turned entrepreneur, establishing a factory producing monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a concentrated crystalline extract of one type of glutamate and is widely used as a flavour booster in food. (See this link to the Japanese Patent Office.)
Even though the flavour was identified over 100 years ago, it is only now widely coming into public recognition in the West. In fact, Dubecki, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, announced that 2014 is the “year of umami”.
What exactly is umami?
Posted in Science
Tagged Barb Stuckey, culture, dashi, flavour, glutamate, hamburger, ketchup, miso, MSG, mushroom, pleasure, receptor, salty, senses, soy, umami
So many kinds of textures in this dessert–
whipped cream, melting ice cream, jelly, kiwi fruit and crispy biscuit.
(Originally posted on Sensorium, February 3 2014)
“Most people wildly underappreciate how much their sense of touch influences what they eat”, claims Barb Stuckey in Taste: What You’re Missing (p. 82).
“Mouthfeel” is the word for the touch sensations generated when we eat.
The earlier post “SWEETNESS (AND DEATH)” notes that our sense of taste isn’t confined to our mouth. We also have taste receptors in our pancreas and intestines, for instance.
Similarly, our sense of touch is very diffuse, registering on the surface of our bodies as well as deep within—and often in tandem with other senses.
Posted in Science
Tagged astringent, Barb Stuckey, contrast, culture, Diane Ackerman, fatty, flavour, mouthfeel, nerve, pleasure, receptor, sensation, sight, smell, texture, tongue, touch
Breakfast with Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, The Sun also Rises, in 1926, when he was 27 years old and living in Paris. A fictionalised autobiography, it is based on events that took place in France and Spain—bullfighting, complicated love affairs, fights, fishing trips. And eating and drinking.
Hemingway was, writes Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan in the Paris Review, a man with “immense appetites—for life, adventure, drink, and a good meal”. Patrizia Sanvitale describes him as “the kind of man who liked to live dangerously—hunting and fishing, smoking, travelling, eating and drinking with largesse.”
When you start to look for food references in The Sun also Rises, it soon becomes evident that the narrative is based on a series of meals. The story almost staggers from one bar or restaurant to another.
Posted in Food in Fiction
Tagged appetite, Botin, emotion, France, Hemingway, hunger, James R Mellow, Le Select, Moveable Feast, Paris, Rendezvous-des-Mariniers, sad, Spain, Sun also Rises
Pickled in vinegar … does this really make your mouth water?
(Originally posted on Sensorium, May 4 2014)
“Sour is the Basic Taste that makes our mouth water the most”, says Barb Stuckey in Taste: What You’re Missing:
This happens because a supersour food enters the mouth with more acidity than the permanent resident, saliva, which rushes in to try to manage this huge change in acidity in the mouth … Once there’s enough saliva to dilute the sourness, the waterworks stop. (pp. 227-228)
I thought that was interesting, but it was only the start of a fascinating exploration of sourness.
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