Those crazy Japanese scientists keep discovering new flavors. First it was umami, the detection of savory, and now it’s kokumi. Unlike salty, sweet and bitter, the compounds that make up kokumi don’t have a distinct flavor. Rather, kokumi acts as a sort of amplifier for flavors, making salty foods saltier, savory foods more savory and sweet foods more sweet. While that won’t affect your dinner plans, it’s good news for food scientists, as this creates the potential to create better tasting, more healthful options. By upping the kokumi in, say, potato chips, they could make a low-fat version as satisfying as its greasy, salty cousin. Can’t put down starchy food? It might be in your genes. Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia recently found the amount of amylase, an enzyme in an individual’s saliva, dramatically affected how the person perceived the texture of starchy food. The study found populations with a historically high-starch diet had more amylase, which helps explain why noodles, dumplings, mashed potatoes and bread are like crack for some people. — Kyle Tonniges Comments? Questions? Want more? Check out our Booked blog online at thereader.com. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.