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Food Scientist Barb Stuckey Explains Umami

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Published on May 10, 2012

This just in: chocolate is not a taste.

That was one of many interesting lessons Youth Radio's core class ingested last week as part of food scientist Barb Stuckey's "Science of Taste" talk. The event, part of our Brains and Beaker's series, explored the difference between flavors (like chocolate, for example) and our five tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. Other "tastes," like chocolate or spiciness for example, are actually related to our sense of smell or touch.

In order to explain the difference between taste and our other senses, Stuckey suggested various food-related experiments from her recent book, "Taste What You're Missing." Some standouts included holding then releasing your nose while eating a flavored jelly bean (woah, intense flavor!), holding a spoonful of butter against your tongue (did you know it doesn't have a taste?), and breathing in air from a container filled with blue cheese (potent!).

She also demonstrated an easy way to experience the most elusive of our tastes, umami. Have you heard of it before? Check out the video to find out how to bring this savory new flavor to your diet.

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