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Monosodium Glutamate/MSG: The Topic


Fat Guy
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MSG rules. Everyone who says they don't like it is really deluding themselves, especially if they eat any kind of processed snacks or junk food. Face it people, you LOVE the stuff.

If you're talking about yellow rice flavored with Goya Sauzon - you are 100% correct! It's widely used in much of the Dominican take-out food that I eat on a weekly basis and also figures prominently in Puerto Rican cusine that I have enjoyed greatly in the past.

There are very few foods if any that have any noticeable physiological effects on me apart from satisfying my hunger and my desire for taste sensation. I don't much care for MSG in anything other than Caribbean style yellow rice with beans. But even that is far less flavorful than good Jamaican rice 'n peas made with cooked onions, some garlic, a bit of Scotch Bonnet pepper and some fresh thyme.

Plain white rice can usually stand to be punched up a bit for my tastes but there are batter ways than MSG.

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I was a non-believer for around 40 years. I have, in the last 3 years, had the classic symptoms ~5 times. No idea why it happens when it does - last week, having eaten at our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant (where I've eaten conservatively 200 times) I experienced a pretty good case. I slept it off and all is well and forgiven, and I will go back again, but when it happens it is unfortunately all to real.

Oddly, while participating in a wine/food pairing class, we were given something to represent all of the tastes, including umami, which was emulated using msg diluted with water. Even taking it essentially straight like that, I didn't experience any affects. And that was sandwiched in between the three years and ~five episodes, so go figure.

I just put a cold towel on the back of my neck and lie down. Somehow setting myself (or anything else) on fire seems a bit drastic but maybe I've just never really had it bad enough.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I just don't see the need for msg. Chinese food already uses a multitude of meats, great vegetables and highly flavorful sauces. The ingredients stand on their own just fine.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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I just don't see the need for msg. Chinese food already uses a multitude of meats, great vegetables and highly flavorful sauces. The ingredients stand on their own just fine.

I agree, and I never use it, but I do not think it deserves all the bar rap that it gets.

BTW, the Observer article is not the Steingarten article I am talking about, even though it does reference it.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I am highly sensitive to MSG. Living in China, this was a huge problem. I frequently lost entire days to migranes. We eventually got the restaurants we frequented to leave out the MSG in our food. It wasn't easy, though. I am also sensitive to red wine and almost all processed foods. Those frozen Weight Watcher and Lean Cuisine dinners, despite being disgusting, will have me take to the bed within thirty minutes. If I OD on chocolate, the same thing will happen. A peice or two won't kill me, but the time I ate and entire box of Godiva cheesecake truffles (oh my god it was the best thing ever) I paid for it dearly in the form of one of the worst migranes I have ever had.

People can talk all day long about the MSG thing being a myth, but for me it's not. I know what happens to my own body when I eat anything with MSG. I still eat Chinese food where I know they use MSG because some of it is so good. I just make sure to eat it late in the evening so I can go home and take some migrane pills and sleep it off.

As a child, MSG made me behave strangely as well. I would eat something with MSG in it and get just pure crazy. Then, I would suddenly come down with a headache from hell. Someone in the thread above mentioned MSG in Southern cooking. Yes. If you see a product called "Accent" in the store, that's what it is. My mother never could figure out why I had the same reaction to my Aunt Minnie Hazel's cooking as I did to Chinese food, until she realized that Aunt Minne put Accent in all her food.

Call me crazy if you want, but I know that I rarely get migranes if I stay away from MSG.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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I was a non-believer for around 40 years. I have, in the last 3 years, had the classic symptoms ~5 times. No idea why it happens when it does - last week, having eaten at our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant (where I've eaten conservatively 200 times) I experienced a pretty good case.
Oddly, while participating in a wine/food pairing class, we were given something to represent all of the tastes, including umami, which was emulated using msg diluted with water. Even taking it essentially straight like that, I didn't experience any affects.

Doesn't that point to a food sensitivity, rather than an allergy to msg? You can develop sensitivities as you age, and Chinese food contains a number of potential culprits (shellfish, peanuts, etc). If you were able to drink the stuff straight, and it only happens occasionally, it seems likely that something else-not msg-is bothering you.

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I feel that we "ALL' should keep what I consider the finding about "MSG" that influences us all who have been nursed as babies that fact that the highest concentrations of "MSG" have been observed in "Nursing Mothers Milk" even if they had not eaten any foods with added glutamate's previously.

Since it is a Amino Acid it's not likely to cause allergies and the research showed that even in babies who were not able to ingest mothers milk the problems were not caused by the absorption of glutamate's in the milk.

Any flavor enhancer should be used modestly to be effective there is no question that many are used to heavily by inexperienced or incompetent cooks or so called professionals.

The most common effects often occur when used together with sodium or sugar where it may cause negative tastes to the finished item. If used in higher amounts then needed it will sometimes cause many to increase their fluid intakes after consuming by becoming thirsty.

Almost everyone who has complained that they were allergic to MSG seems to enjoy large amounts of foods containing large natural amounts of glutamate's with impunity but immediately are purportedly effected after ingesting anything that supposedly was enhanced by MSG. It just doesn't make any sense in the real world but seems quite popular to the mis-informed media or those who claim to be effected selectively.

I would welcome responsible research being done about this topic that takes all "Amino Aids" and "Glutamate's" into consideration from all sources since to date all have been inconclusive.

I sympathize to everyone who has suffered any effects from anything they have eaten but feel that before making conclusions we should have ample data available to support our findings. It certainly makes sense to avoid eating anything that has a negative effect, but it would be realistic to learn more about why it occurs to myself personally.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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MSG rules. Everyone who says they don't like it is really deluding themselves, especially if they eat any kind of processed snacks or junk food. Face it people, you LOVE the stuff.

If you're talking about yellow rice flavored with Goya Sauzon - you are 100% correct! It's widely used in much of the Dominican take-out food that I eat on a weekly basis and also figures prominently in Puerto Rican cusine that I have enjoyed greatly in the past.

Yup. Theres a ton of it in Goya Sazon, Goya Adobo and any number of latino spice and seasoning blends.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I was a non-believer for around 40 years. I have, in the last 3 years, had the classic symptoms ~5 times. No idea why it happens when it does - last week, having eaten at our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant (where I've eaten conservatively 200 times) I experienced a pretty good case.
Oddly, while participating in a wine/food pairing class, we were given something to represent all of the tastes, including umami, which was emulated using msg diluted with water. Even taking it essentially straight like that, I didn't experience any affects.

Doesn't that point to a food sensitivity, rather than an allergy to msg? You can develop sensitivities as you age, and Chinese food contains a number of potential culprits (shellfish, peanuts, etc). If you were able to drink the stuff straight, and it only happens occasionally, it seems likely that something else-not msg-is bothering you.

I don't know. Honestly, I have never had anything even close to a food allergy, apart from the literally several episodes I described. There were never nuts (that I know of) involve, as I don't care for Chinese foods with nuts (e.g. I never order cashew chicken -- oops, bad example -- not really a nut, but I also don't order stuff with peanuts. Not because of allergy, just don't care for it. And I wish I could attribute it to any thing else whatsover, including the company I happen to be in, but I can't. That's why I became a believer that there is something to it. Don't even know if it is, in fact, MSG, but it's happened only after dining at Asian restaurants. And three of the five times, it has been at places that I frequent. And places where I continue to dine. Making me imagine that on any given day, msg is applied with perhaps a slightly heavier hand than on other days. That's why I'm weighing in on this. I used to poo-poo the whole notion until I experienced it, up close and personal. And there's no common thread -- once I ate only soup w/noodles, once an egg fu yung dish, once it was lo mein...but the symptoms were the same. And, just to make it more random, sometimes it was at lunch when I drank only water, sometimes at dinner when I had a glass of wine. So the variables are ALL over the place.

Bottom line is, I used to think it was a bunch of hooey but, having had ~5 epidodes, I [unfortunately] know it's not a figment of anyone's imagination. I only hope it remains the exception rather than the rule for me, because I can't imagine a world without Chinese (or any Asian) food.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I realize I'm going off on a tangent here, but cashews aren't nuts? Why? Because they're the seed of an edible (but yucky, as far as I'm concerned!) fruit?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I wish Maggi Seasoning came in gallon containers.

Jason:

It does !

Since it being manufactured in China I believe there is a "5 Liter" Commercial size being sold.

If you purchase it in Asian Groceries its offered at a reasonable price also imported from China of 27 ounces or 800mL thats distributed by Nestle USA Inc, Foreign Trade Division.

Nestle owns the Knorrs and Maggi Brands for years.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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I realize I'm going off on a tangent here, but cashews aren't nuts? Why? Because they're the seed of an edible (but yucky, as far as I'm concerned!) fruit?

I'm going to let someone (anyone?) else sort this out. I just know that, on past occasions, I have been corrected on this and didn't want my point about msg to be obscured by a discussion of nut (or non-nut?) allergies (none of which I have anyway, I'm happy to report) :wacko:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I realize I'm going off on a tangent here, but cashews aren't nuts? Why? Because they're the seed of an edible (but yucky, as far as I'm concerned!) fruit?

I'm going to let someone (anyone?) else sort this out. I just know that, on past occasions, I have been corrected on this and didn't want my point about msg to be obscured by a discussion of nut (or non-nut?) allergies (none of which I have anyway, I'm happy to report) :wacko:

Wikipedia on cashews, explaining that a cashew is botanically classified as a seed rather than a nut. (The so-called cashew "fruit" is apparently botanically not a fruit either, but the swollen receptical of the flower that produced the cashew seed.)

Lurching back on topic: I think an Occam's razor-type solution to the MSG conundrum is to posit that there are indeed some individuals who are sensitive to the kind of excessive levels of MSG, such as result from over-enthusiastic use of the refined condiment, but that those numbers are far lower than the blanket anti-MSG forces fear. That would account both for the anecdotal evidence, and that haunting fact that Asia isn't a hotbed of migraines. :smile:

I confess I was all anti-MSG myself for many years, until I found out more about exactly what glutamate was and where it came from. I'm still none too thrilled with the indiscriminate use of refined MSG in processed foods to cover the poor quality and processing of the ingredients. And while I'm no longer totally dead-set against MSG added to ready-cooked foods (either home cooking or restaurant food), I do confess I still think of it as, at best, a quickie shortcut for getting the glutamate in there the old-fashioned way, by means of naturally glutamate-rich ingredients. Meanwhile, now that I have a little knowledge (a dangerous thing!), I now have lots of fun deliberately boosting the glutamate content of my meals with those naturally-occuring glutamate powerhouses. Kombu and dried shiitakes have become permanent fixtures in my pantry.

Edited by mizducky (log)
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Almost everyone who has complained that they were allergic to MSG seems to enjoy large amounts of foods containing large natural amounts of glutamate's with impunity but immediately are purportedly effected after ingesting anything that supposedly was enhanced by MSG. It just doesn't make any sense in the real world but seems quite popular to the mis-informed media or those who claim to be effected selectively.

That's the kicker...often people who suffer migraines from ingesting MSG will also suffer migraines from ingesting food that is high in glutamates. Parmesan cheese is a well-known trigger for migraines (well, well-known among those of us who get migraines :wink: ). I can only hope that those people who dismiss MSG as a migraine trigger so off-handedly will one day suffer a massive migraine of their own. Perhaps then the cavalier attitude will be tempered with some empathy.

I have gotten a migraine after consuming MSG-laden food but I've also NOT had one after similar consumption. Any overly salty food might trigger a migraine for me so I've come to put it down to a sudden change in hydration (or the "sodium" part of MSG and not the "glutamate" part).

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I still think that the cheese mixture I used in last night's batch might have benefited from an extra bit of MSG, a jar of which (generic, not branded, obtained from the Spice Corner in the Italian Market) resides in my spice cabinet. It seemed a little on the bland side and not savory enough.

Parmigiano-Reggiano contains a ton of glutamates. Just add more of that.

Yep. Worked perfectly on the leftover lasagna I had for lunch today.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Nestle owns the Knorrs and Maggi Brands for years.

Irwin

Maggi, yes. Knorr, no.

Knorr GmbH was acquired by Corn Products Company of the USA in 1958.

Corn Products Company became CPC International, and more recently Bestfoods. The Anglo/Dutch consumer products giant Unilever acquired Bestfoods in 2000.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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MSG rules. Everyone who says they don't like it is really deluding themselves, especially if they eat any kind of processed snacks or junk food. Face it people, you LOVE the stuff.

If you're talking about yellow rice flavored with Goya Sauzon - you are 100% correct! It's widely used in much of the Dominican take-out food that I eat on a weekly basis and also figures prominently in Puerto Rican cusine that I have enjoyed greatly in the past.

Yup. Theres a ton of it in Goya Sazon, Goya Adobo and any number of latino spice and seasoning blends.

As I noted in my foodblog, I have encountered MSG-free sazón at a spice merchant in the Italian Market.

For those who have problems with MSG, this is probably something good to have on hand. Otherwise, Sazón Goya is what you should use for Caribbean yellow rice.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I can only hope that those people who dismiss MSG as a migraine trigger so off-handedly will one day suffer a massive migraine of their own. Perhaps then the cavalier attitude will be tempered with some empathy.

It certainly worked on me.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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  • 4 months later...

Admin: Discussion merged in from a thread on Momofuku Ssäm Bar.

not to start a war here or anything, but if msg is not a big deal, i don't see why two people are challenging my claim that it's used at the restaurant. why would i make up something so stupid?

anyway, i don't have the exact issue on hand, but it comes from the source himself (that would be chang) in an old food and wine article.

msg is cheap, synthetic and unecessary in making food taste good. if you like it, more power to you; splash it on everything you eat. it gives others a wicked headache, though. as for it being naturally occuring, you have to admit that there's a difference between eating a tomato and adding synthetic powder to your food.

i'm just saying.... and this is a random hypothetical example, but it's like raving about tia pol and then finding out that their secret is goya sazon.

thanks in advance for respecting a dissenting voice.

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If the ingredents include soy sauce, the dish has MSG. If the dish includes anything made from cooked soy products or hydrolyzed proteins (i.e. cooked), the dish has MSG. There is plenty of natural MSG in soy based cooking....

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gingersweetiepie:

"not to start a war here or anything, but if msg is not a big deal, i don't see why two people are challenging my claim that it's used at the restaurant. why would i make up something so stupid?"

I didn't challenge it. I said that any cook that uses soy sauce, seaweed, tomatoes, mushrooms or parmesan cheese (among many other foodstuffs) uses MSG. Without question and reservation, I can assert that you cook with it. I was questioning your premise.

"msg is cheap, synthetic and unecessary in making food taste good."

its not "synthetic", it's extracted from seaweed.

"if you like it, more power to you; splash it on everything you eat. it gives others a wicked headache, though. as for it being naturally"

"MSG headaches" almost certainly don't exist. no one gets them from eating sushi. they're from overconsumption, too much oil or purely psychogenic.

"occuring, you have to admit that there's a difference between eating a tomato and adding synthetic powder to your food."

your premise is false. adding seaweed extract to my food is analogous to adding tomato paste.

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