The Fifth Taste

Posted on February 16, 2012


Umami Inducing Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak

We got some snow at the elevations last night so I headed up to Eaglecrest this morning to get on my downhill skis. The snow at the bottom of the mountain was very heavy, but at the top and down to mid-mountain the snow was powdery and I managed to find some sections that hadn’t been skied in yet. That was very cool, but when I decided that I was on my last run I followed somebody’s traverse track and ended up on a ledge that I couldn’t ski past because of rime covered trees on the other side. I managed to get one ski flipped around and as I was flipping the other I lost my edge and went off the ledge. Bouncing off of rocks trees and ice on the way down wasn’t very fun, but the part that really sucked was getting my ski wedged tight in the snow on the way down where I couldn’t reach it. The closest I could get was a poles length away so I had to hack at the snow until it broke up enough to release my ski. Getting my skis back on was another struggle because I had so much snow packed in my boots and bindings and it was still pretty steep where I was trying to get them back on. I finally got them on again and managed a few decent turns before I got out of the powder zone, so there was a little redemption for me. It was enough to shake me and have a moment of wanting my Mommy. One comfort that I did have waiting for me at home was some leftover chicken soup.

The 5 Basic Tastes

Savory is one of the five basic tastes and is still overlooked past the other four of sweet, salt, bitter and sour. This taste was finally officially recognized in 1985 and is scientifically referred to as Umami which is a Japanese word meaning “pleasant savory taste.” We taste umami when the amino acid glutamate is present in our food. To describe its properties, “Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth,” according to S. Yamaguchi’s article in Food Reviews International. I concur, as I sit here experiencing that taste and feeling in my mouth right now.

Shea Wine Cellars Willamette Valley Chardonnay

If I were to choose a wine to go with the flavor in my mouth it would be Shea Wine Cellars Willamette Valley Chardonnay. I have not tasted this wine for almost three years, but to me it is a testament to how memorable this wine is. It is not an overblown, buttery, and flabby Chardonnay. It has good balance because of its acidity that also adds to its fresh and grassy crispness. Shea Wine Cellars describes their current release 2009 in this way: “This wine is made from a blend of Dijon Clone 76 and 95. This wine delivers aromatics of pear, floral notes and jasmine with bright acidity and elegant balance on the palate. It is a very food friendly Chardonnay.”

“Elegant balance,” that is just what I like to find in my mouth and on my skis.