Umami Dearest

The experts who brought us salty, sweet, sour, and bitter are still debating the definition of a fifth “basic taste:” umami. Is it savory? Hearty? How does it relate to MSG? The newly created Asian Culinary Forum tackles these questions and more at “The Six Asian Flavors” (the sixth is “hot”), a discussion and demonstration that’s part of the three-day Asian Food Beyond Borders conference. Tonight’s event allows you to taste the expertise of Bayside Bistro chef Terrence Khuu, Eating Asia blogger Robyn Eckhardt, and nutritionist Karen Diggs, who will do their best to illuminate the elusive umami for the Western palate. Other weekend events include panels on “The Politics and Practicalities of Rice” and “What Is This? Ask the Experts” at the Ferry Building, cooking classes, a wine and food pairing, and a Sunday symposium featuring author Madhur Jaffrey and veteran TV hero Martin Yan. With Asian products and produce so easy to find in the Bay Area, and so few of us knowing what to do with them, an organization like the Asian Culinary Forum promises to light a much-needed fire under the dusty wok.
Fri., Oct. 10, 5:30 p.m., 2008

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