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A term first used by Asians attempting to identify flavors that are earthy, meaty, robust, pungent, or savory. It is also used to describe flavors enhanced by naturally occurring substances in foods such as glutamate, an amino acid that exists within bonito flakes, cheese, fish, kelp, mushrooms, red meat, soy sauce, and tomatoes. If the substance exists in its "free form" and is not bound to other substances, it enhances the flavor, thus providing umami to the foods being prepared.