Whether it’s a succulent pot roast, cheesy casserole, or warming, savory stew, we love Sunday supper. It’s a dinner party without the formality, where family and friends gather for easy conversation and good food – lots of it!
If you asked us to choose one food that unites cuisines from all over the world, meatballs would be at the top of our list. They’re found in everything from Italian Wedding Soup to Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches. This international crave-worthy food proves that even with vegetarianism and veganism on the rise, humans love meat. Who can blame us? The mouthwatering smell of a slow-simmered tomato and meatball sauce is nearly impossible to resist.
So what makes meatballs taste and smell so good to us? Many believe it’s because of umami, a Japanese term that literally translates to “delicious taste.” You can think of it as the sensation that makes us smile and say, “Yum!”
Umami comes from an amino acid called glutamate, which naturally occurs in savory foods such as mushrooms, soy sauce, Parmesan cheese, and of course, meat. The concept of umami dates back to the ancient Romans – they often cooked with garum, a fermented fish sauce with high amounts of glutamate.
Many believe that umami is a fifth taste, in addition to sweet, salt, bitter and sour. To help you get in touch with your inner umami, we’ve chosen our best meatball recipes. Our Meatballs with Tomato Ragu and Creamy Polenta recipe is brand new from our February 2014 issue.
Umami-bomb: Meatballs with Tomato Ragu and Creamy Polenta
Comforting, zesty, delicious: Lemon, Orzo and Meatball Soup
All-American favorite: Country-Style Spaghetti