Umami is beef, pork, certain types of fish. Umami is potatoes, seaweed, carrots, mushrooms and sun-ripened tomatoes. The sun-riper – the umami-er. Über-umami is dry cured ham, parmesan cheese, MSG, fish sauce, dried fish, biltong & beef jerky, Worchester Sauce, A1 Sauce, HP Sauce, Bovril, Marmite, Vegemite and anchovies. Bacon is the King of Umami. Aromat is umami in a can. Umami is that what makes you scream “Ooooh Mommy!”
James Bond’s cover in ‘You only live twice’ was that of an industrial spy, trying to steal Osata’s formula for making Monosodium Glutamate. Tamara over at Doodles of a Journo cannot see what the great big fuss is over a juicy steak. She likes oriental dishes – also high in umami content.
Soooo, what is it that makes something taste good? It cannot be the umami thing on its own... There is no umami in Dulce de Leche Ice Cream...
I can even bring ADD into this. Tactile Defensiveness. Your little fussy-eater may not as much be averse to the taste of something, than not being able to tolerate the texture of it.
Fat. Cuts of meat marbled with fat throughout the muscle tissue is tastier that extremely lean meat. Oil, butter, lard, dripping etc. makes food just so much more tastier.
Method & preparation. Some people have the ability to assassinate the taste in even the best of ingredients. Some lovingly coax the very best out of quite mediocre stuff.
Piquanteness? Spiciness? Astringency? What about the pungents (onions, garlic, shallots, chives)? How does it look? Is it pleasing to the eye?
Now, MSG...MSG...MSG. MSG is fake umami. It is like using lurid yellow banana essence instead of real bananas. The fast food & ready-made-food industry can dress up the most horrible tasteless substance by adding MSG, excessive fats, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, excessive (hidden) salts, colourants, flavourants, additives, solidifiers, emulsifiers, preservatives etc, etc. When in doubt – cover in bacon and melted (processed) cheese.