Today in 1908, Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda isolated glutamic acid from kombu (seaweed). The resulting sodium salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), had a taste that did not fit within the established four major taste categories- sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. Ikeda coined the term umami, meaning “delicious taste.” Umami is now the fifth recognized basic taste, also referred to as savory. Contrary to popular belief, MSG is harmless and is not a seasoning in itself, but rather a flavor enhancer that balances and blends the other tastes.
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