Growing up, I attended time and weekend morning Hebrew school, typically 3 days a week. We discovered various areas of Jewish religion and culture, not the least of that was the Bible. In younger years, we learned simplified (but hopefully not critically altered) versions of key Bible stories, and we discussed some pieces to which we will relate.
One particular story from the book of Exodus was the Israelites eating manna in the desert. I recall learning that manna tasted like “the greatest food มานาประจําวัน imaginable,” which devolved into manna tasting like “whatever you are interested to.” I distinctly remember a question being asked of my class: “What do you consider manna tastes like?” Numerous predictable answers came out: cake, candy, cookies, quail (in reference to some other divine food source in the desert.) I believe my answer was pizza.
Now we realize much more accurately what manna is and what really tastes like. Manna is typically derived from dried plant sap processed by insects, or even a “honydew” that’s expelled by the bugs who eat the sap (think the foundation of honey, nothing worse.)
As well as its source, manna also offers distinctive flavors. They aren’t tomato sauce and cheese. Such as a fine whiskey or wine, manna has subtle notes and variations. In reality, there are numerous types of manna, some that are increasingly being utilized in cooking. New York Times Food writer David Arnold says that Hedysarum manna’s flavor is reminiscent of “maple syrup, brown sugar, blackstrap molasses, honey, and nuts.” Shir-khesht manna contains mannitol (a sugar alcohol that has the cooling effect of menthol with no mint flavor) and also offers “notes of honey and herb, and a faint bit of citrus peel.”