Pass The Toast – The Maillard Reaction in Wine Barrel Toasting.

Chapter Thirteen, Part Four.
Dog stealing food.Not long after Kikunae Ikeda discovered umami, a French physician by the name of Louis Maillard (pronounced my-ARD) described the chemical reaction that takes place when amino acids combined with sugar are exposed to heat. This transformation, once known simply as browning, is now called the Maillard reaction. (It is rumored the original name, browning, was named after Maillard’s cook, Dorothea Brown.)¹

The Maillard reaction is what turns toasted bread a golden brown and creates the seared crust on protein rich foods like steak or chicken. I think my neighbor was grilling some protein rich food last night because I heard him say, “Hey Carter. Get your dog out of Maillard!”

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The Umami Tsunami.

Chapter Eight, Part Three.

One + One = Three (The Synergy Of Umami).

Umami Tsunami WineSnarkThe subtle, savory fifth taste known as umami was first identified by Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda in 1907. In researching umami he discovered that it was linked with the amino acid glutamate and his investigations led to the development of monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a flavor enhancer. I could feed you lots of material about the development of umami-rich MSG but you would just be hungry for more in an hour.

The umami tsunami began in earnest six years after Ikeda’s discovery when his follower Shintaro Kodama learned that glutamate, when combined with nucleotides, creates a dramatic flavor enhancing synergy. For example, when meat (high in the nucleotide inosinate) is combined with glutamate-rich foods like tomatoes or cheese, a significant umami boost is created. To understand the power of this synergy, think of the flattering outcome when you add cheese to a hamburger or braciola to tomato sauce (or as we say in New Jersey, you put the bruh-johl in the gravy).

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