The current buzz-word in high-end food circles these days is “Umami”. It’s a Japanese-coined word based on “Umai”, meaning “tasty” (although as a kid I’d say “Umeh”, which is the slang version of “Umai”…most men would also say “Umeh” as well…as a girl or lady, I’d actually say “Oh-iishii”, which means delicious/tastes good).
On Wikipedia it is described as the 5th category of taste: a sort of savoury taste that is very satisfying to the taste-buds, the special something that gives food a particular depth of flavour:
I like to think of it in a similar way to a great perfume. You have top/head notes, middle/heart notes and bottom/base notes in a great perfume:
I love family recipes. They are different from national/regional and traditional recipes because they are unique to each family.
Normally this might make you think of a stereotypical Italian family where everyone says, “Ah, but I miss the way my Mama used to make this dish”, and it is passed down from generation to generation; but I have brushed with this myself when I tried to make Kartofelgulasch (Austrian potato goulash) for my partner. He’s Austrian (surprise!) and Austrians have a very strong (and tasty) culinary identity and history.
It’s become something of an obsession of mine to try and recreate my partner’s family dishes – not just to surprise him, but also out of curiosity, and we get to eat the whole lot regardless (yum!). I tried to make it as per the traditional recipe – lots of onions, equal amounts of potatoes, the whole pot of paprika, dry-cured sausages, beef stock and goulash spices – but when I presented it eagerly and expectantly to my partner, he said:
“This is tasty, but this isn’t Kartofelgulasch from my childhood”.
And I was utterly stumped. I checked the recipe again and used a different sausage, convinced that maybe this would be the cause.