A question of bitterness (Foodie query)

The five tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umani, the latter being the taste sensation afforded by certain grapes, cheeses and meats. It was apparently noted by the Japanese which is why it’s called umani.

  1. Are there any foods, herbs, spices, whatever in any culture that are enjoyed because they’re bitter? Can you provide examples?

  2. Why isn’t umani called “savory” just to get it over with?

I don’t know if it’s enjoyed because it’s bitter, or despite it, but black coffee.

Maybe coffee.

Taste is such a funny thing. Those are all really “taste sensations” more than flavors or tastes, wouldn’t you say?

I think you could legitimately ask

Are there any foods, herbs, spices, whatever in any culture that are enjoyed because they’re sour?

Are there any foods, herbs, spices, whatever in any culture that are enjoyed because they’re sweet?

Are there any foods, herbs, spices, whatever in any culture that are enjoyed because they’re salty?

Even sweet – no one just eats straight sugar, or drinks straight syrup.

But, sweet is a component of many things we like just like bitter is. Thigns that are primarily bitter: some greens, coffee. Some chocolate is more “bitter” than others.

I wouldn’t say that I enjoy chocolate for it’s sweetness any more than I enjoy it for it’s bitterness. I don’t like milk chocolate very much at all, for instance – a very sweet chocolate.

Do you mean enjoyed specifically because they are bitter or in spite of the fact they are bitter?

Popular bitter foods would include olives, greens like dandelion and rappini and tonic water with quinine. Some other vegetables like artichokes can have some bitterness, too. Certain strongly flavored cheeses have a bitter component.

I find that bitter greens set off rich meat dishes well and olives are often paired with spicy meats or creamy cheeses.

This article on taste receptors mentions a number of bitter veggies.

<<Subjects then rated bitterness of various vegetables; some contained glucosinolates while others did not. Examples of the 17 glucosinolate-containing vegetables include watercress, broccoli, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, and turnip; the 11 non-glucosinolate foods included radicchio, endive, eggplant and spinach. Subjects with the sensitive PAV/PAV form of the receptor rated the glucosinolate-containing vegetables as 60% more bitter than did subjects with the insensitive (AVI/AVI) form. The other vegetables were rated equally bitter by the two groups, demonstrating that variations in the hTAS2R38 gene affect bitter perception specifically of foods containing glucosinolate toxins. >>

Yes, absolutely! Most cultures enjoy bitter tastes more than we do, in fact.

Here in the US, we have dark chocolate, coffee and a few salad greens (dandelion leaves come to mind) which are very mildly bitter.

Other greens and herbs are much more bitter and are enjoyed in other countries and generally known by their local names, but they include dandelions - more mature and more bitter than we’d eat them here - watercress and many of the plants in the mustard family. Many countries distill or brew bitter beverages for consumption after meals: vermouth, absinthe, Campari, Fernet Branca, Byrrh, Dubonnet, Punt è Mes, Cynar, Suze, Jägermeister, and Amer Picon.

And don’t forget hops! Hops is a natural bitter in beer, and a beer with no bitter taste at all is flat nasty piss water beer.

The Italians have a bitter soda.
It had the oddest taste to me - sweet and bitter. I found it undrinkable, and I like almost everything.

And of course bitter melon.

As others have said, many leafy greens (baby arugula especially comes to mind) strike me as bitter, but tasty.

I think you mean ‘No healthy, sane adult.’ I used to have tea parties featuring nothing but delicious sugar water.

Because glucose and fructose are added to so many convenience foods in the U.S. (even supposedly savory things like deli meat and bread), I think American tastebuds are trained to expect a high level of sweetness, making anything naturally bitter or sour less pleasant. But that’s just IMHO.

The fifth taste is umami. :slight_smile:

And yes, when I think of things that are “bitter and good,” I think of hoppy beer, espresso, and House M.D. reruns.

Here’s a link to the Italian soda, if anyone is so inclined: http://www.nifeislife.com/default.php?cPath=125_169

Hey just a minute there! I love to eat candy corn, which is made “primarily from sugar, corn syrup and honey.” Mmmmm, candy corn. OTOH, I can’t stand any of the items listed in this thread as being bitter.

Cotton candy is pretty much straight sugar. I know it’s mostly for kids, but I’m betting a few sane adults sneak a bit here and there.