Mr Murata spoke first about umami
and how Japan is the only country in the world that has this as the main focus of its cuisine. As Ambassador Hayashi mentions in his March blog post
, umami is “one of the five basic tastes alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The term, formed from the Japanese words umai
(“delicious”) and mi
(“taste”), was first coined by Kikunae Ikeda, a professor of the Tokyo Imperial University, in 1908, and is generally taken to mean something like “a pleasant savoury taste”. Mr Murata went on to say that “umami could be found in any cuisine in the world but that in Japan it had long been recognised as a category of taste in its own right, with combinations of different materials (e.g., bonito fish, shiitake mushrooms, sea kelp) being used deliberately to enhance it.”
Mr Murata recommended the use of umami
in all types of cuisine as an alternative to seasoning via oils and fats as it makes for a much healthier diet, and he complimented Mr Blumenthal as having recognised this in his own creations.