Macrobiotics is an approach to understanding health, which promotes spiritual, mental, and physical health, as well as longevity. It approaches health from a more holistic standpoint and is a lifestyle, not just a temporary diet. For more information on a macrobiotic diet, click here.


The Maillard reaction is named for Louis-Camille Maillard, the French scientist who first wrote about it in 1912. It is a chemical reaction that occurs when foods (whether meats, breads, vegetables or sugars) are heated and browned and their amino acids and natural sugars react together and produce new and delicious flavors. Caramelization is one stage of the several stages of the Maillard reaction. It occurs when the cooking temperature reaches 300°F or higher.


Maldon salt is a sea salt from Essex, England that is known for its large, pyramid-shaped crystals and bright flavor. Salt has been harvested in Essex for hundreds of years; the Maldon Salt Crystal Company is now its sole producer.


A traditional Romanian dish consisting of polenta, cream, and cheese.


Manchego is a hard sheep’s milk cheese that originated in Spain.


Masada is the Hebrew word for “fortress” and was an ancient kingdom built by Herod the Great, King of Judea upon Mount Masada in Israel. The mountain is in the Judean Desert and overlooks the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of the Jewish patriots in 73 AD against the Roman Army. It is now the site of the famous ruins. For more information on Masada, click here.


Mastic is a resin that is harvested from the mastic tree and hardened by means of sun drying. It is also called mastica or Arabic gum, but it is not the same as gum arabic (which comes from the acacia tree). It was the basis for the first chewing gums and is used as a stabilizer in foods. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties made it a common ingredient in early medicines of the Mediterranean region.  It is available in spice stores.


Mayonnaise, invented in 1756 by a french chef, commonly referred to as mayo, is a thick creamy highly popular condiment made of oil, egg yolks, lemon or vinegar. It is an emulsion (mixture of two liquids that generally do not combine) created by whisking oil and vinegar into egg yolks. It is also used as a base for other sauces such as thousand island dressing and tartar sauce.


Mexican crema, or crema Mexicana, as it is known in its country of origin, is a cultured cream that is very much like crème fraîche, but a little sweeter and creamier. A tarter version is called crema Mexicana agria.


Mexican oregano shares its name with the more familiar Mediterranean oregano and while their flavors are somewhat similar, it is a different plant that is native to Mexico and Central America. The duplication probably developed when Spanish settlers named it after the herb they used at home. Mexican oregano typically has notes of citrus and/or mint and in some cases, an earthy quality—all of which sets it apart from the sweeter Mediterranean oregano. It is used in stews, salsas, pickled and marinated dishes, and in many other ways. It’s available fresh in some markets, but is easily available in dried form from purveyors such as Penzeys Spices.


The Meyer lemon is a hybrid variety of lemon that is sweeter and less acidic than other lemons and very fragrant. It is in season from October through May. It is named for the importer who brought it to the U.S. from China in the early 20th century.


Milk chocolate is chocolate that has milk and milk solids added to it. This means that it has a less pronounced chocolate flavor, but is creamier than dark chocolate. Milk chocolate must have at least 10% cacao, but most contain much higher levels.


Mimouna is a festival held by the Moroccan Jews to celebrate the end of Passover and the start of spring. It begins the night of the last day of Passover, and runs through the next day. For more information about Mimouna, click here.


Mirin is a sweetened Japanese rice wine that is used in cooking (unlike the other Japanese rice wine, sake, which is enjoyed as a beverage and has a higher alcohol content). Mirin is often used in sauces and marinades.


Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans (although it can also be made from other grains, such as barley or rice and even wheat, so those on gluten-free diets should read the labels). This Japanese ingredient is rich in umami flavor. It is most commonly used for miso soup, but may also be used in dressings, sauces, stir-fries, and even in baked goods. It comes in red, yellow, and white (depending on the length of fermentation and other variants during production) and can be found in many supermarkets and Asian specialty stores.


Mitsuwa Marketplace is the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States. There are 9 stores nationwide including New Jersey, Chicago, and California. For more information on the Mitsuwa Marketplace, click here.


Mochiko sweet rice flour is a flour that has been milled from mochi rice—a short-grained, glutinous (sticky) rice variety favored in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Because of the way it is milled, it is high in starch but free of complex carbohydrates. Since it is made from rice, it is also gluten free. Mochiko has a naturally sweet flavor. It is used in baked goods, noodles, as a breading for fried foods, and as a thickener.


Molasses is a by-product in the production of cane sugar. Molasses is dark in color and has a sweet and robust flavor. Molasses is used in baking to keep food moist, and to add flavor. Molasses comes in three forms that range from lighter in color and sweet, to very dark and more bitter. Most recipes call for the mild, sweet molasses. Molasses can be bought at almost all major supermarkets or online from a variety of vendors. 


Molecular gastronomy offers a scientific approach to cuisine. This type of cooking is often viewed as modern, avant-garde, or cutting-edge. Adding chemicals to certain foods yields new textures, shapes, and applications for dishes. For more information on molecular gastronomy, click here.


A Romanian Garlic Sauce.


The mulato chili pepper is what the poblano is called after it is dried. Deep brown in color, it is about 4 inches long and measures 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville units in heat. Aficionados detect notes of chocolate, licorice, and cherries in its flavor profile.