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18 Dec

10 Smart Meals with a “New” Taste

Are you doing Umame? No, it’s not the latest dance craze (thank God the Macarena has passed us by) and it’s not a jukebox. Umame is the fifth taste sensation, and until recently we Americans didn’t even know we had it. Never fear: Michelin-rated chefs are falling all over themselves to create the ultimate “umame bomb” (expect truffles, pancetta, blue cheese, bacon, garlic and the last living crustacean of whichever sea bug is most endangered at precisely this point in time).

We all grew up with the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty. But there is a fifth taste, umame, that translates as “savory” or “flavorful”. It’s that rich, deeply satisfying, sensual taste. Think gravy, steak, brie cheese, proscuitto, truffles, parmesan – that’s umame. Humans instinctively seek it out, which is why those low-fat chocolate cookies of the 90s failed to satisfy. We want umame. I think there’s a bit of a Primal aspect here – our tongues know how to identify what is rich and satisfying, even if we Westerners lacked the word until recently. For any doubting Thomases, Japanese researchers identified umame a century ago, and thank goodness we’re finally catching up. In the spirit of the fifth taste, here are 10 healthy Primal-minded meals that are sure to satisfy that spot:

10. Bacon-wrapped oysters

9. Clam chowder
Primal tip: forget the spuds and cornstarch; substitute carrots and parsnips and thicken things up with a package of Neufchatel or full-fat cream cheese.

8. Roast beef with vegetables
Primal tip: forget potatoes and go with whole grilled fennel bulbs.

7. Old fashioned tuna fish salad on a bed of greens! Add in celery and fresh dill or tarragon and enjoy that mayo! We recommend making your own chemical-free mayo at home, however.

6. The lazy gourmet: sliced ham, sliced Swiss, and Dijon mustard. Simply roll and enjoy. It beats string cheese!

5. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.

4. A Denver omelet with a side salad of fresh tomato and avocado slices.

What bread? We don't need no stinking bread.

3. Spinach-Artichoke dip
Primal tip: forget the toast points or chips and serve this cheesy, delicious dip with cubes of baked chicken breast instead.

2. John Dory with chard.

Mr. John Dorry

1. Caesar salad with grilled shrimp.

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Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Mmmmm Bacon-wrapped oysters.
    I am a big fan of the Denver Omelet as well.
    umame = 5th taste?? this is crazy!!
    I think you could throw Pizza Hut’s stuffed cheese pizza in there as well, for the umame taste.

    Tom Durnil wrote on December 18th, 2007
  2. Let’s not get carried away, Tom.

    Aaron wrote on December 18th, 2007
  3. I second the bacon-wrapped oysters. In fact, pretty much anything wrapped in became is going to umame bomb my tongue off. I’m pretty sure bacon-wrapped moth balls would hit up some of that umame goodness.

    David wrote on December 18th, 2007
  4. Just as our salty food receptors are able to recognize salt from Na+, our Umame receptors recieve their information from Amino Acids. Umame is most activated when there is a great influx of protein, as protein is composed of amino acid.

    Translation: Our bodies have special receptors for meat and other protein rich foods. (not Pizza Hut) Eat your steaks!

    Moe wrote on December 18th, 2007
  5. Steaks it is!

    Aaron wrote on December 18th, 2007
  6. Processed foods typically contain maltodextrin, yeast extract, or MSG to appeal to our taste for umame. Asians have no phoba of MSG. You can buy it in little plastic bags at the supermarket, and labels identify it explicitly as an ingredient whereas in North America, MSG is hidden in the maltodextrin, yeast extract or other hydrolized or autolyzed protein.

    Sonagi wrote on December 18th, 2007
  7. Not helping with today’s intermittant fast, Mark, but there’s always tomorrow!

    Ed Parsons wrote on December 19th, 2007
  8. Umame is just a combination of fat and salt or sugar and protein. Don’t see the big deal with that. The Japanese may have attached a name to it but we’ve known all along that American food is the most savory food around.

    Chris wrote on June 9th, 2010

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