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Umami is a culinary term used to describe a unique quality of flavor. This flavor is sometimes considered to be satisfying, meaty or savory, but it is difficult to put into words. Umami is considered to be one of the basic tastes, and it is based on the ability of human taste receptors to detect high levels of glutamate, an amino acid. The food additive MSG (monosodium glutamate) is one way to add this flavor. The word is Japanese in origin.