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Dubious GastronomyThe Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA$
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Robert Ji-Song Ku

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839215

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839215.001.0001

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Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium Glutamate

(p.159) 5 Monosodium Glutamate
Dubious Gastronomy

Robert Ji-Song Ku

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses monosodium glutamate (MSG), a dubious chemical food additive found in a variety of Chinese foods. It first considers the rap against MSG and the resulting “No MSG” disclaimer found in foods offered at restaurants and in grocery store items. It then revisits the ad war between soup manufacturers Campbell's and Progresso over MSG and goes on to trace the history of MSG, focusing on Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda's discovery of the so-called umami taste and the official launch of MSG as a commercial product in the form of Ajinomoto on May 20, 1909. The chapter also provides an overview of food additives and the escalation of flavor enhancers in the U.S. food supply. Finally, it examines the Chinese restaurant syndrome and the reasons why only Chinese restaurants were blamed for the supposedly toxic effects of MSG.

Keywords:   monosodium glutamate, Chinese food, Kikunae Ikeda, umami taste, Ajinomoto, food additives, flavor enhancers, MSG, Chinese restaurant syndrome, Chinese restaurant

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