Empire of the Bun: Today, burgers. Tomorrow, the world. The casual-dining revolution of Adam Fleischman and his Umami Group. 'In 2009, with $40,000 in his pocket from selling his stake in BottleRock, Fleischman decided to open a restaurant centered on the umami flavor. He knew that an umami-focused menu would attract a burgeoning breed of foodies who had been weaned on the Food Network and had developed a sort of teenybopper crush on the heady flavors of pork, organ meats, West Coast IPAs, and superripe cheeses.' [more inside]
Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, and.... fat? Dr. Russell Keast, an Austrailian scientist who studies "perceived flavour, consumer acceptance and preference of foods and nutrition," has conducted research exploring humans' apparent sixth taste perception: fat. The kicker? Sensitivity to the taste of fat was negatively correlated with fat intake and BMI. Dr. Keast discussed the results of his latest research with Slashfood, and The Sydney Morning Herald. (via) [more inside]
Jonah Lehrer is becoming one of the most interesting science writers around. The 26-year-old Rhodes scholar and former Le Bernardin cook just published his first book, Proust Was a Neuroscientist [first chapter excerpt - NYT], an investigation of the ways poets, novelists, and artists accurately modeled the brain and memory before science did. This week he hilariously reenacted Escoffier's distillation of umami-rich veal stock [hit the audio link] with NPR's Robert Krulwich of Radio Lab. He also just published a very insightful profile of Oliver Sacks in SEED (addressing the pioneering neurologist's own recent struggles with an eye ailment) and writes a wide-ranging science blog. A new writer to watch.
"If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache?" A brief history of and exploration some myths and facts surrounding MSG, glutamate (its natural expression) and umami - 'the fifth taste'. "We now know that glutamate is present in almost every food stuff, and that the protein is so vital to our functioning that our own bodies produce 40 grams of it a day. Probably the most significant discovery in explaining human interest in umami is that human milk contains large amounts of glutamate (at about 10 times the levels present in cow's milk). [...] Which means mothers' milk and a packet of cheese'n'onion crisps have rather more in common than you'd think."
An unusually long article about ketchup. Fascinating, I swear.