Laura Santtini’s spellbinding food flavours


posted by on Food News, The Cool Corner


You may have heard the word umami being thrown around, but do you know what it really is?

Umami is being hailed as the 5th flavour the palate recognizes and literally translates to ’savoury deliciousness’.  You already know salty, sweet, sour and spicy, but umami makes up the 5th distinguishable  flavour.  You know those caramelized, crispy bits at the bottom of the roasting pan that you just can’t resist picking at?  That’s umami.  Or the meaty, nutty flavour of a seared, fresh porcini mushroom?  That’s umami too.  It’s the intense flavour in savoury foods that drive your food pheremones bonkers.  Doesn’t it sound positively delightful?

The man to thank for this revolution in yumminess is Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, who identified umami just over a century ago.  Foods being naturally high in glutamate make up this taste profile, (glutamate is the major excitatory transmitter in the human brain) and it was kombu, a Japanese seaweed that first got Kikunae thinking.

More recently though, food writer Laura Santtini developed her own umami paste, based on Mediterannean ingredients such as anchovy paste, parmesan cheese, black olives and porcini mushrooms to name a few.  I’d love to get my hands of some of that!  Perhaps we could make our own?

Laura then realized an avenue of opportunity using various umami flavour combinations and developed a range of absolutely gorgeous products, comprising food mists, stardusts and a range of heavenly rubs containing extraodinarily rare and exceptional ingredients.  Unfortunately my descriptions do no justice at all to Laura’s products – have a look at these:

The Devil’s Breath is a food (and drink) mist that contains brandy liqueur, chilli and edible gold.  I’m tickled by the warning it comes with: “Contains 23 Carat Guilt.” Opulence personified.  Hand me some brioche somebody, please.

The Angel Mist & Broken Halos is a mist that contains grappa & edible silver.  I’m thinking vanilla panna cotta, finished off with a squirt of this gorgeous stuff. Wow!

This box of delights forms part of Laura’s Easy Tasty Magic range of rubs, and is called Alchemical Larder, and contains treats like black truffles, Spanish saffron, peony blossoms, peperoncino chillies and larkspur.  Currently being sold at Selfridges and online at Steenbergs.

The Easy Tasty Magic range has fairly sordid names like Carnal Sin, International Jerk, On the Game and White Mischief, whimsical names such as Renaissance Stardust and Venetian Stardust, and with more earthly names such as Porcini Salt, Salt of the Earth and Truffle Salt.

The Food Bling stardusts contain edible precious metals, and will transform your food from good to phenomenal.   Think edible glitter on steroids.


Laura labels herself a cognitive cook, and sites that her inspiration is by “learning to taste what you feel and to feel what you taste”. This is a mantra I couldn’t subscribe to more readily.  Food is a feeling, not a predetermined conclusion based on what we know it to be.

I may be preaching to the choir here, but savour your food; don’t rush your mealtimes.  Sit at a table when you eat, focus on each mouthful and give your food the attention it deserves.  You’ll find that your palate will develop by concentrating on and identifying different flavours, and your satiety will be easier to recognize, resulting in your eating what your body needs, not wants.

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