Growing up, I attended an afternoon and weekend morning Hebrew school, typically 3 days a week. We discovered various areas of Jewish religion and culture, not the smallest amount of of which 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 story from the book of Exodus was the Israelites eating manna in the desert. From the learning that manna tasted like “the greatest food มานาประจําวัน you can imagine,” which devolved into manna tasting like “whatever you are interested to.” I distinctly remember a concern being asked of my class: “What do you think manna tastes like?” Several predictable answers came out: cake, candy, cookies, quail (in reference to another divine food source in the desert.) I do believe my answer was pizza.
Now we all know a lot more accurately what manna is and what really tastes like. Manna is typically produced from dried plant sap processed by insects, or even a “honydew” that is expelled by the bugs who eat the sap (think the origin of honey, nothing worse.)
In addition to its source, manna even offers distinctive flavors. They aren’t tomato sauce and cheese. Like a fine whiskey or wine, manna has subtle notes and variations. In reality, there are lots of forms of manna, some that are increasingly being utilized in cooking. New York Times Food writer David Arnold says that Hedysarum manna’s flavor is similar to “maple syrup, brown sugar, blackstrap molasses, honey, and nuts.” Shir-khesht manna contains mannitol (a sugar alcohol that’s the cooling effect of menthol with no mint flavor) and even offers “notes of honey and herb, and a faint little bit of citrus peel.”