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MSG…Nom?

  1. I believe MSG is a usable “flavoring” in contemporary American cuisine.
  2. Response should be between two paragraphs and one page in length and be based on a combination of facts from the reading as well as your personal thoughts. Submitted work should be indicative of a Bachelor’s degree candidate and represent best work.

MSG when I was growing up was a term that would be posted at most Chinese restaurants but instead of telling people about the wonders of MSG, these signs boldly and proudly stated “No MSG used.” The funny part is that as I grew up I started seeing signs that would say “MSG available upon request” and today in culinary school I know why MSG is talked about as it was. It’s funny to think that a powder developed over 100 years ago to help with basic nutrition in Japan would be used throughout the world as the 5th taste.

I myself have had both good and bad experiences with MSG, and I think at one point or another we have all had the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” creep up on us. There are times when after eating Chinese food I would want to do nothing more than to take a nap, but I never had the same problem when I went to eat Japanese food. All I know is that miso soup and seaweed are delicious, but I couldn’t have told you that it was the MSG making it taste so good.

After coming to school and learning about the five tastes I respect MSG more today than I ever did in the past. While I don’t know if I would ever put a MSG “shaker” on a table so that people could add more Umami flavor to a meal I can see how it would be a good item to have in the kitchen. With all of the other powders we use today in the kitchen I don’t see why MSG should be left out, just look at what people are doing with Molecular Gastronomy.

While as a society we are trying to eat better, or at least starting to, look at all the canned and processed foods that we have and think about how they would taste if they didn’t have a little MSG in them. In the article they make a very good point about where MSG is still used today, military rations. In the words of Colonel John D. Peterman, quartermaster of the Food and Container Institute for the armed forces, “flavorless rations can undermine morale as quickly as any other single factor in military life.” It has been said throughout history, and army marches on its stomach, and if we want to be able to keep our troops happy we have to give them food that tastes good.

Although the question of is MSG good for us is still up in the air, I do think that MSG not only deserves a place in contemporary American cuisine, but that it has earned it place.  MSG has given us a new understanding of our tastes and has helped keep not only the common man happy with his food but also military personnel. While some places my choose not to use MSG in their cooking I for one like that little extra kick that MSG can give to a dish and would be happy to use it myself given the right opportunity and application.

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One Comment on “MSG…Nom?”

  1. Grandma February 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Grant what’s in MSG that makes me not sleep at night if I have it. It works like caffine on me. That’s why I always stay away from it. Love and hugs, Gma

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