Umami – The Fifth Taste and Culinary Lifeline

Umami FoodsUmami, the fifth taste, mystified even our greatest philosophers, Aristotle and Plato. Even they believed that there were but four tastes; sweet, sour, salty and bitter, according to NPR’s Jonah Lehrer. In fact, that was the belief of every philosopher, scientist and cook until the 1800s when French chef Auguste Escoffier changed everything.

Escoffier invented veal stock. When he did, he gave the world much more than just another starter for soups and sauces. Neither sweet, sour, salty nor bitter, its earthy savoriness changed cuisine forever. He gave us the fifth, but yet to be named taste, umami. Continue reading

Why We Cook

Peep In The City

Peep In The City

Happy Easter everyone!

Holiday aside, Sunday is traditionally a day for family dinners. I love to spend a little extra time in the kitchen on Sundays either prepping for the week, or experimenting. Due to geographical challenges (being on the opposite coast) I won’t be joining my family holiday gathering in Seattle. But, if I could, I would cook. And this is why, and perhaps why you cook, best captured by the brilliant Michael Pollan.

“To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every working moment into yet another occasion for consumption.

Cooking has the power to transform more than plants and animals. Cooking, I’ve found, gives us the opportunity, so rare in modern life, to work directly in our support and in the support of the people we feed.

In the calculus of economics, doing so may not always be the best use of an amature cook’s time. It is beautiful even so. For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted than preparing something delicious and nourishing for the people you love?”

– Michael Pollan, ‘Cooked’

Why do you cook? Please leave a comment below!