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Ole Mouritsen

The science of deliciousness

Ole G Mouritsen

MEMPHYS−Center for Biomembrane Physics

SMAGforLIVET−Danish Center for Taste


Use of the term umami for describing the sensation of deliciousness in food is finding its way into the Western cuisine. Umami is now ranked as a fifth taste primary along with the four classical tastes: salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. I will review the concept of umami and deliciousness in a historical, evolutionary, and scientific context and describe recent advances in the understanding of the sensory perception of umami and the involved taste receptors. The unique molecular mechanism behind umami sensation explains why certain pairs of foodstuff taste delicious, e.g., eggs and bacon, cheese and ham, meat and vegetables, etc. Housewives, cooks, and chefs across the world are more or less unknowingly exploiting this synergy in preparing delicious meals. A few recipes will accompany the talk in the quest for unlocking the secrets of the fifth taste.


Suggested reading: Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste (O. G. Mouritsen and K. Styrbæk) Columbia University Press, New York, 2014.