The chef and cookbook author Laura Santtini calls herself a “cognitive cook” because her work is all about exploring the inextricable link between flavours and feelings, she says.

She has published a cookbook entitled “At Home with Umami: Home-Cooked Recipes Unlocking the Magic of Super-Savory Deliciousness“. And she leaves the reader in no doubt about why she finds umami so fascinating.

In her book she refers to umami as the ultimate expression of flavour. For her, umami is an oxymoron, both ubiquitous and elusive, present but often unrecognised. Santtini calls umami the “sexy flavour”. It is the taste that lingers on long after the other tastes – sweet, salty, sour and bitter – have faded. Umami is that extra full-bodied flavour that makes people go “mmmmm”, she writes. The savoury taste of umami can still be relished long after the morsel itself has been consumed.

Santtini points out that umami is not limited to any particular culture. It is widely assumed to be a Far Eastern concept as the word umami originates from the Japanese language and means “savoury delicacy”. For Santtini, tasting umami is like loving – absolutely universal and enjoyed by everyone. Umami crosses cultural barriers and geographical boundaries. It transcends age and gender. Moreover, according to Santtini, scientists have even proven that sick patients are still able to perceive umami when they have lost all other sense of taste.

Laura Santtini´s cookbook featuring 115 savoury and sweet recipes has won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award.