Why does everything taste better with Umami?
First let us be clear, not everything tastes better with umami like everything does not taste better with salt, bitter, sweet or sour.
Umami is merely one of the 5 tastes we recognize on our tongue, but we can state that there is a thing called the umami effect. This effect can be best described as the binding element between all flavours, it brings dept and balance in tasteful food products and dishes.
If we look more from a technical point of view to the umami taste, you can say that the substance glutamate (glutamic acid = a amino acid) causes this taste. Glutamate is a substance used as a taste enhancer in food products, human but also (pet) animal feed. You will find natural glutamate in products like tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, meat, onions and of course in mushrooms. There are also artificial glutamates available on the market; we know them better as MSG or E number E621 to E625.
Research shows that glutamate extracted from mushrooms has an advantage over the other natural glutamates but also the artificial ones, because besides glutamate mushrooms contain two ribonucleotides, inosinate and guanylate, who have a synergy with the glutamate. As a result of that it brings an even bigger taste enhancement capability. Various sources on the Internet state that this synergy brings an 8 times stronger taste enhancement power.
Knowing this all we can say that the 5th taste umami is also a taste enhancer that helps you to make delightful food but take into account one remark; without other taste components there is nothing to enhance. Take a plain mayonnaise and a wasabi mayonnaise as an example, the effect of the umami will be little in the plain but big in the wasabi mayonnaise.