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The Japanese have known about umami, an intensely savoury taste sensation, for a century. More recently, scientists have discovered umami receptors on the tongue, ranking this mysterious fifth taste alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Now, Laura Santtini, a London-based food writer and the author of Easy Tasty Italian , has captured umami (which means deliciousness) in a gourmet paste. Called Taste #5, it blends umami-rich Italian ingredients such as tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and porcini mushrooms to add instant depth and flavour to sauces, soups and marinades. $5 at Holt Renfrew (

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