Tofu has very little flavor or smell on its own. Consequently, tofu can be prepared either in savory or sweet dishes, acting as a bland background for presenting the flavors of the other ingredients used. As a method of flavoring it is often marinated in soy sauce, chiles, sesame oil, etc. Benjamin Franklin was the first American to mention tofu in a 1770 letter to John Bartram. Franklin, who discovered it during a trip to London, included a few soybeans and referred to it as "cheese" from China.