The Ketchup Post... Part 2

Page 2 on Umami…

When you try to grasp the concept of umami what you are struggling with is the failing of the English, not the knowing.  It is not about a taste, but a feeling and a knowing that combine into an “experience” and how do you convey an experience that is “felt” into words. Can you convey experiences, smells, and texture all at the same time to someone with only words… you can’t.  You know you can’t because when someone tries to tell you about the book they are reading or the deep snow they ski through you are only partially there…

So, I will try another way.   When you “understand” the way umami works you can do two things, you can listen for it, and you can do a more complete job of “speaking” it.  An example; When you are making chicken noodle soup from scratch the process is this. Start with a cut up chicken including the bones and then boil with some carrots, onions and celery.  A little salt and pepper and water to cover…  What happens? The heat transfers through the meat and then to the bone and then the transition happens.  You see, the bone is where the marrow is and the marrow is where the blood is made, and the blood is where “life” is.  The transition of that marrow into a thick protein that changes the water into a flavor blowout is because of the transition of death to life.  The blood and the mechanism that brings it is transitioned and transferred into the “body” of the water and then combined with the flavor enhancers to the specific flavor profile of the soup you are making.

When you cook a ripe tomato, the same thing takes place with the proteins in the tomato and the riper the tomato, the better the umami, and you will know when it is missing.
Taste a canned chicken noodle soup and compare it to the love labored tureen of taste explosions and you will know.  The cost of the homemade is high, in labor and love and purpose.  It has value that you can taste… that you can know in the knower inside.

 You go to a church service, perhaps to listen to the special singer and you know inside, “that was nice but thin”.  Or you weep with them as they pour out the part of life that was transitioned into something more.  Or a sermon at the funeral of a grandma by a preacher that didn’t know her, and you know, that was thin… or not.  You have been to the service where the message was worthless and thin or the one that wasn’t and you knew it.  You have been to a church that has been through the pains found in a common experience and they exude umami and you are warmed and want to stay.  That experience of a common grief and the pressure of the circumstance that breaks the bones and brings the marrow to the point of transition and you want that to the very core of your soul… and you don’t want to leave and you want to bring your hurting friends back to taste it.  It allows you to be capable of freedom so that you can finally trust that the taste will be something to extend your reach for.  You will bring your flavor to the soup, but you will know it is the umami of the transition, the reaching the right temperature for the right amount of time that turns the proteins into that “something” that is different, that is the body.

Take this idea and know that the pain of the process is intended to change you.  The suffering of the heat produces something that cannot happen any other way.  Be more than you were, be broken and allow the transition to take place.  Others will notice.  You did.

In the whole ketchup thing,(previous post) there is something significant about it.  You see, the flavor profile is a symphony across your mouth.  It starts on the tip of the tongue with the sweet and the sour, moves to the back of the mouth with the salt and the bitter and finishes with the full body of the umami.  It is the same with the church. It is the same with your friend.  There is the sweet of the fellowship, the sour of the odd circumstance, the salt of tears, the bitter of loss and the umami of the brokenness.  When that is in balance there is a blossom and an awakening to the uninitiated and they are amazed at the experience.  When the experience is not finished and the cooking is not done, they will see and perhaps stay away for a while as it cooks.  Our pastor’s wife passed away at 38 from cancer and the church changed because of it.  But in the middle of it the flavors were not complete and the blending of the ingredients was not done and the umami had not come through yet. But the process was in process. It wasn’t supposed to be done yet… Neither am I.

So the path continues.  Are your friends needing to be given the time to “process”?  Are they stuck someplace in the “between”?  Are you? Do you want them to move faster?  Do they want you to “get over it”?  Perhaps your “Bones have not been broken”, or you have not hit the right temperature to change the proteins… It is an art as much as a craft.

If the words are to be believed, “unless a seed fall to the earth and it dies there is not life”, then what are we to do with our unwillingness to fall from the hand of the one that is spreading the seed?  Who will I not listen to?  What will I not share? Answer those and then you will know where God is working.  His is the hand that breaks the bones that brings the life, and then He invites others to come into your life to taste and see that it is good.  It just doesn’t feel like it at the time.  We resist the pain… we need to know the sweetness of the final product.  The master Chef is working his work.


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