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8 hours ago, ComputerGuy said:

I actually prefer the original with MSG. I've never had anybody say it affected them. It's part of the secret behind the success. (Stephen Yan calls it "miracle powder" to keep people from freaking out.)

MSG is an excitotoxin. Some people feel it very strongly and others are unaware. It makes everything taste good so the manufacturers use it so that they can use inferior ingredients and it still tastes great. I put a grain of it on my tongue once and it had to keep from chewing up my tongue until it wore off cuz it tasted like the best steak...

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It sure as hell affects me. Headache that goes down the back of my neck and unbelievably bad nights sleep with constant dreaming and tossing and turning.  In my twenties, I had a headache for three years and finally figured out it was the Uncle Ben's packaged rices that I would prepare nightly for dinner. Now, I know that if I want to partake of anything with msg that there will be consequences. Sometimes it's worth it.

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14 hours ago, cafemediterraneo said:

MSG is an excitotoxin. Some people feel it very strongly and others are unaware. It makes everything taste good so the manufacturers use it so that they can use inferior ingredients and it still tastes great. I put a grain of it on my tongue once and it had to keep from chewing up my tongue until it wore off cuz it tasted like the best steak...

I disagree with the reasoning that manufacturers use it for that reason. It has been around for 100 years, a creation from Japan, as the original umami. (That being " one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It has been described as savory and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats.") Like soy sauce. It's got a bad reputation due to some people having odd reactions to it.

I generally am only slightly susceptible to it. If it hits, it feels like a cap inside my skull, but I don't get the headaches or other symptoms.

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Like other allergies, MSG is person-specific.   For those of us sensitive to it, the effects are dramatic and miserable.  My question is why use this stuff at all? It's not that much effort to use enough good spices to create excellent flavored food.

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8 minutes ago, gringal said:

Like other allergies, MSG is person-specific.   For those of us sensitive to it, the effects are dramatic and miserable.  My question is why use this stuff at all? It's not that much effort to use enough good spices to create excellent flavored food.

Well, from one who cooks, and generally knows his audience, there are specific times when it is a great addition. Because it is an umami, it "functions" like salt (but does not taste like salt), and judicious use can sparkle up a meal. That's why it is so popular in Chinese cooking, where bland veg and sauces make up the majority of the dishes (outside the fast-food deep-fried stuff). So it's a choice, like garlic.

You can see that it's not as simple as "using good spices", but that certainly is an option for those that prefer not to use it. And in fact, only a very small percentage of people are sensitive to it. Still, enough are, and that's usually why you'll see disclaimers on menus. Unfortunately, it's a bit of an overblown situation caused by a single letter to a newspaper back in the 60's, much like the whole anti-vaccer thing.

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If you are at all in tune with your body, you will observe that some foods and beverages do not make it happy in much the same way the people with gluten sensitivities avoid breads and pasta. What you like and what's good for you are individual... and we are all unique.

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22 minutes ago, AngusMactavish said:

What spice would you use to add umami? 

Obvious devious inquiry.  😉 Who needs unami?  Plenty of fresh garlic, Italian and Greek seasoning, sea salt, Chapala sauce, Worchestershire sauce, pepper, tumeric and whatever else occurs to me. These, along with freshly made lentils, veggies and chicken stock plus chicken itself. Result: great tasting soup....and no negative physical effects.

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2 minutes ago, gringal said:

Who needs unami?

The people that like the pho at Chopsticks I'm told. LOL

BTW,

"The United States Food and Drug Administration has designated the umami enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a safe ingredient. While some people identify themselves as sensitive to MSG, a study commissioned by the FDA was only able to identify transient, mild symptoms in a few of the subjects, and only when the MSG was consumed in unrealistically large quantities."  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami

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2 minutes ago, Ferret said:

Agree. I think the world could use less umami then maybe weight could be controlled more easily. Umami = gobble imho.

I didn't notice too many fat Chinese while in China this year.

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And I think that the way umami is made and from what it is made is very different in Japan and China than in the so called First World. We can have this discussion all day. It affects ME. End story. Bonus for you if it doesn't.

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I once ended up in a Puerto Vallarta hospital for overnight observation after face and tongue swollen with a food allergy. The culprit, the only food I had eaten that day, was KFC spicy chicken, including their nuclear green coleslaw. Upon further research I found many were cutting way back on MSG, but there was a pack of five additional chemicals which greatly enhanced the remaining MSG, but none of them had been tested for human consumption!

The best source of unami flavor is ground, or whole, koji kin rice, fermented sweet rice. It is extremely popular with top chefs. Computer Guy will remember when we attended the sushi and knife sharpening demonstration, that he said he had brought 3 bags of koji kin for his chef friend in Guadalajara. I have starter in the freezer, but have not done anything with it yet.

google koji kin recipes, you will surprised about the enthusiasm for this ingredient, and it shouldn't be difficult or expensive to import it. Last time I checked, Fuji foods, in Guadalajara did not have it.

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7 hours ago, gringal said:

My question is why use this stuff at all? It's not that much effort to use enough good spices to create excellent flavored food.

What foods contain monosodium glutamate (msg)?

  • Monosodium Glutamate 101: What Foods Naturally Contain MSG? Glutamate is an amino acid that is found in virtually every food. It’s a big part of protein-rich foods like meat, eggs and cheese, but is also found in fruits and vegetables. And, it is what’s responsible for giving foods the umami (savory) flavor that makes them taste delicious.
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I believe the important word here is "naturally".  A  different matter than the chemical additive known as MSG.  People don't get headaches from the foods you named, and that is what we're talking about, isn't it?  But...stretch away if that's your pleasure 😉!

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44 minutes ago, gringal said:

I believe the important word here is "naturally".  A  different matter than the chemical additive known as MSG.  People don't get headaches from the foods you named, and that is what we're talking about, isn't it?  But...stretch away if that's your pleasure 😉!

How is MSG made?

MSG is made up mostly of free glutamic acid, or glutamate, an amino acid found naturally in most foods. It’s produced by fermenting molasses, starch, or sugar cane. 

 

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1 minute ago, ComputerGuy said:

I started a topic called Umami, in case anyone wants this one to get back to the topic.

Sorry but I find no way to quote from here to there.

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The argument that MSG is "natural" (and therefore shouldn't be demonized by the people who react badly to it) contains one serious flaw:  Heavy duty drugs come "naturally" from poppies.  Many poisons are "natural". Experience dictates personal decisions about use, not whether a substance is "natural" or not. A quick trip to the subject on the web will list the adverse side effects of MSG for some people.  Enough?  😉

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Back to mesh. I saw a gardener video how he used organza gift bags which are typically given out at weddings, etc, and are certainly inexpensive on amazon.I think the actual material is nylon.

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