I am neck deep in the final draft of my forthcoming book, Eight Flavors. I’m writing about the stories behind the most popular flavors in American cooking: black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. When I’m chatting at a party, and I rattle off the list of chapters, the topic I field the most questions about is by far MSG (or Monosodium Glutamate). “Isn’t it bad for you?” “Isn’t it a chemical?” “Why does it have such a negative reputation?”
Good questions–and ones I answer thoroughly in my book. But in the meantime, there have been several great recent podcasts that address those questions and concerns. I’ve rounded them up here so you can binge-listen and draw your own conclusions!
Stuff You Should Know: How Umami Works!
For millennia humans have recognized four tastes, but in the 1980s a fifth taste first isolated in Japan gained worldwide acceptance – and took off like a rocket! Learn about meaty, musty, savory umami in this episode. Includes a history of MSG and explanation of it’s savory taste. Listen Here!
Gastropod: The United States of Chinese Food
Get the low down on MSG’s long-time association with Chinese Food.
Wander into any town in the U.S., no matter how small and remote, and you’re likely to find at least one Chinese restaurant. In fact, there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King combined. And the food they serve is completely unlike anything you’ll find in China. In this episode of Gastropod, we ask one crucial question: why?
Masters of Social Gastronomy Podcast: Monosodium Glutamate
This is an oldie but a goodie from me & Soma; the full history and sciense of MSG!