Expert opinion

Prof. Dr. Thomas Vilgis of the Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany

Many people are unaware that “glutamate” is present in all protein-rich foods in the form of the amino acid glutamic acid. Glutamic acid also plays such an important role in cooking that most traditional dishes cannot do without it. The EURASYP newsletter spoke about this to the expert Prof. Dr. Thomas Vilgis, physician at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, author of numerous books on the science of cooking, and chairman of the German Culinary Academy (Deutsche Akademie für Kulinaristik).

Read the interview “We are all hardwired for ‘umami’ from infancy”

Prof. Charles Spence, Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, England

“Our sensitivity to each and every taste has evolved for a reason. In the case of umami, it signals something essential for our diet – the presence of proteins, just as ‘sweet’ indicates ‘rich in energy’ and ‘bitter’ indicates ‘toxic’. The umami taste indicates their presence in a food and is therefore very beneficial.”

Read the full interview

Dr. Klaus Dürrschmid, Head of the Food Sensory Science Unit at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria

It’s interesting and striking that our taste buds for ‘sweet’ and ‘umami’ are similar – more precisely, 50 percent of their structure is identical. With respect to the taste ‘sweet’, it is assumed that there is distinctive innate preference, because babies react positively to it. The same might be true for ‘umami’. This could explain why foods with ‘umami’ taste are so popular.

Read more about “Umami – the fith taste”