Growing up, I attended time and weekend morning Hebrew school, typically 3 days a week. We learned all about various aspects of Jewish religion and culture, not the least of that has been 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 could relate.
One story from the book of Exodus was the Israelites eating manna in the desert. I remember learning that manna tasted like “the best food มานาประจําวัน you can imagine,” which devolved into manna tasting like “anything you want it to.” I distinctly remember a question 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 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 perhaps a “honydew” that is expelled by the bugs who eat the sap (think the source of honey, nothing worse.)
As well as its source, manna also has distinctive flavors. They aren’t tomato sauce and cheese. Such as for instance a fine whiskey or wine, manna has subtle notes and variations. Actually, there are lots of types of manna, some of which are now 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’s the cooling effectation of menthol without the mint flavor) and also has “notes of honey and herb, and a faint bit of citrus peel.”