Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ooh Mommy

I woke up at 4 AM to use the bathroom, and I was suddenly struck with a ridiculous question: What's the name of that fifth flavor that the Japanese have? Who gets up in the middle of the night to answer nature's call and thinks of stuff like that?

After relieving my urge, I had to find the answer before I could go back to sleep. I went to the living room where we keep our unabridged dictionary (that may seem odd, but it's much handier there than in the library at the other end of the house):
I think it starts with a u, or maybe an o. Is it usami? No, that sounds too much like Osama, and I'd remember that. Likewise, it's certainly not osami. Maybe it was unami? Or onami? Damn it, none of those are in the dictionary. Maybe it's umami?
As it turns out, the word is indeed umami, no thanks to the dictionary. I had to go upstairs to look it up online. First I typed "Japanese flavors" into Google and found the Wikipedia page as the second result. There it was:
Umami, popularly referred to as savoriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
My question answered, I should have stopped there. Alas, I could not. I was being sucked into the Internet. I typed "umami" into Google. The first result was the aforementioned Wikipedia page, but the second was "Umami Burger | The Fifth Taste." As a burger lover, I had to check that out. There's little chance that I'll be sampling their offerings anytime soon because it's a small Los Angeles chain, but that didn't stop me from perusing their menu and picking out what I would order if I could (a "Manly Burger" with beer-cheddar cheese, smoked-salt onion strings, and bacon lardons -- Mmmmmm!). They linked to a glowing review from GQ, and via the comments there I found a negative review for balance at Burgers, Dogs, & Pizza, Oh My!. Since I love burgers, pizza, and the occasional hot dog, I had to investigate that site further as well. At this point, I remembered it was 4:30 AM and I should probably go back to bed since I don't function well on two hours' sleep.

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