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Umami is so yesterday

Posted by Devra First  August 22, 2008 02:12 PM

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Remember when the so-called "fifth taste" seemed all shiny and new? We'd been tasting sweet, sour, salty, and bitter all our lives, but suddenly there was this savory taste called umami. We ate strong cheeses, mushrooms, and soy sauce and exulted.

But now scientists say they've discovered a sixth taste: calcium. Here's the full story from LiveScience.

What does calcium taste like? "Calcium-y," researcher Michael Tordoff says. "There isn't a better word for it. It is bitter, perhaps even a little sour. But it's much more because there are actual receptors for calcium, not just bitter or sour compounds."

Though dairy products are high in calcium, the mineral binds to fats and proteins, which means you don't taste it as much as in, say, high-calcium vegetables such as kale and bitter melon.

This may in part explain why some people don't much like such vegetables. At high levels, Tordoff says, calcium actually tastes fairly nasty.

Long live umami!

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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