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Glutamate Perception, Soup Stock, and the Concept of Umami: The Ethnography, Food Ecology, and History of Dashi in Japan

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Abstract:

This article examines the use of Dashi stock as the most characteristic Umami-yielding foodstuff in Japanese culinary practice. While Umami is scientifically defined as a taste provided by Umami substances (e.g., glutamate), the popular meanings attached to the term Umami among Japanese is more complex. The article shows how glutamates are encoded in Japanese culinary culture. The research identifies socioeconomic and political factors that have influenced on the changes in perception of glutamate within Japanese society. Through observing changes in the preparation and consumption of Umami-containing food, Dashi, this study traces the uses and perception of Umami over time.

Keywords: Dashi stock; Japan; Umami; taste

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03670244.2012.691389

Affiliations: School of Anthropology and Conservation,University of Kent, Canterbury,Kent, United Kingdom

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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