UMAMI Changes the World
Keisuke Matsushima is a Japanese chef who specializes in French food. In 2002, he opened a restaurant in Nice and which has become beloved by the locals for 16 years. The longer he has lived abroad the more he has reconsidered Japanese food culture and discovered new things about it. Umami is one of them. He believes that umami, which nowadays is recognized among foreign chefs, has the power to change the world.
But, what is ”umami?” Let me introduce you. For example, these are European ingredients. These are Japanese preserved foods -- dried kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, and dried bonito.
So, what is umami? Actually, all of these foods have “umami.” It is found not only in Japanese ingredients but also in European ingredients.
Umami is the one of the five flavors. In general, most people can sense five different tastes -- sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and umami.
Umami is called “umami” wherever you go in the world. Since it was discovered by Japanese scientists, it is called umami worldwide. Umami is most commonly found in preserved foods. Preservation is the secret of umami. For example, tomatoes. When they are preserved, they gain umami. In fact, nearly all preserved foods contain umami. This is a very important point.
I believe, for humans, there are two types of taste. This is a person. The first is “rising taste,” which excites the brain. But which elements excite the brain? Sweetness and saltiness. Also, animal fats. For example, many people find a hamburger delicious. Soon after eating a hamburger, the sense of taste travels up to the brain. This is why I call it “rising taste,” because the sensation travels upwards.
On the other hand, there are also tastes, which calm people down. I call these “lowering taste.” This taste comes from bitter or sour sensations. For example, when you eat wild spring vegetables, the bitterness makes people feel calmer. The same principle also works for umami. If a food contains umami, people feel better when they eat it.
Nowadays, the popularity of fast food is increasing rapidly around the world. For this reason, umami has become very important. People become agitated and aggressive when they eat a lot of fast food which contains rising taste.
That is why umami is very important. We need umami, to change the world. I believe umami is the key to changing food culture in the world. As the people who discovered and named umami, we Japanese should teach the world about the values and role of umami which can be discovered anywhere.
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KEISUKE MATSUSHIMAケイスケ マツシマ