I began today unrested, unsettled and uninterested. Not a great begining to a day in theory devoted to expanding horizons. Well, I cannot sit still and began looking for inspiration. Many times my ideas are sparked while I am absorbed in a process and a fragmental distraction occurs stimulating an idea. Today I went to get our wireless modem for our computers fixed. I called the store and they said bring it in and the tech support will examine the problem on Monday. After an hour drive I arrived at the store. It was closed. Isolation is not good for tech support. I was also hungry, really hungry and Aki and I had been talking steaks recently; our closest steakhouse is really a burger house decorated with golden arches and Irish prefixes to all their dishes. Anyway, my need for a great steak led me to a store that is hit or miss in the steak department--today was a hit. They cut me two two inch Porterhouse steaks, I grabbed a loaf of some local bread and headed home. I let my mind wander during the hour drive home.
I think there are more than five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. These are the recognized tastes. We weave them together in our cooking; they influence and structure our cuisine. Yet, there are two other tastes instrumental to our cooking. The one which first popped into my mind during my drive was earthiness. I was wondering why I have such an affinity to jalapenos, tequila, Bordeaux wines, curry leaves and tobacco like ingredients. They all have an inherrent earthy quality not found everywhere. I smiled in the car as this thought bounced around my head--I thought of another taste--now I need to do some actual research. I arrived home, bounded up the stairs, formally presented the porterhouse steaks and then blurted out "I think there is a sixth taste." Aki smiled and said "sure, heat and spice." That was not the response I was looking for and yet she had a valid point.
We integrate both heat and earthiness into dishes in conjunction with the five other acknowledged tastes. It just took an isolated drive and the distraction of a couple of porterhouses to let the idea float to the top.
Now we begin the testing and analysis of these thoughts. I forsee a rare porterhouse topped with jalapeno slivers and a curry leaf margarita to begin the research.