Food: Umami and freshness in history.


I’m not impressed with the inception of the Umami chain. Thought processes in the kitchen — that’s something else entirely.

Empire of the Bun: Today, burgers. Tomorrow, the world. The Casual-dining revolution of Adam Fleischman and his Umami Group, by Lesley Bargar Suter (LA Magazine)

 … The signature Umami burger isn’t some towering, sloppy menace that’s as impossible to grasp as it is to bite. It’s compact, almost cute, with a reasonable six-ounce patty served on an eggy, Portuguese-style bun that Fleischman sources from a top-secret local bakery. “The burger-to-bun ratio is key,” he says, “but it’s amazing that nobody ever gets that right.” Once cooked to the lowest, pinkest edge of medium rare, the meat is seasoned with the now-patented Umami Sauce and Umami Dust. “We don’t use MSG,” says Fleisch-man, despite many accusations to the contrary. The full recipe is classified, but he will allow that the sauce contains some soy sauce and the dust, some ground-up dried porcini mushrooms and dried fish heads, among other umami enhancers. Toppings include known umami heavy hitters such as oven-roasted tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a crisp Parmesan wafer. “Parmesan,” says Fleischman, “has the second-highest umami levels of any ingredient, and it has the most of any cheese.”

Umami as a “fifth taste” surely is an ancient notion, one only recently elevated to a place in food-related discussions. But it’s been there all along, right?

Historical Recipes Are the Next Big Thing, by Elizabeth Gunnison Dunn (Wall Street Journal)

Chefs are trolling archives and raiding centuries-old cookbooks in search of inspiration, and the results are some of the freshest recipes around

“SO MUCH OF what’s served in restaurants these days isn’t even recognizable as food,” said Shane McBride. As the chef talked, his hands moved with care through a vintage copy of Richard Olney’s “The French Menu Cookbook.” He paused on an entry for a dish called Pheasant Salmis, which opened with matter-of-fact instruction on how to spot a good eating bird in the wild.