Growing up, I attended an afternoon and weekend morning Hebrew school, typically 3 days a week. We learned about 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 could relate.
One particular story from the book of Exodus was the Israelites eating manna in the desert. From the learning that manna tasted like “the maximum food มานาประจําวัน you can imagine,” which devolved into manna tasting like “whatever you want it to.” I distinctly remember a concern being asked of my class: “What you think manna tastes like?” Several predictable answers came up: cake, candy, cookies, quail (in reference to a different divine food source in the desert.) I believe my answer was pizza.
Now we all know far 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. Like a fine whiskey or wine, manna has subtle notes and variations. In fact, there are lots of types of manna, some of which 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 effectation of menthol minus the mint flavor) and also has “notes of honey and herb, and a light little bit of citrus peel.”