The Atomic Seasoning

Last week I wrote about the umami taste which adds a lovely meaty, savory flavor to your culinary creations. If you want to add the umami flavor to your food, add MSG – monosodium glutamate – a white crystalline substance that is similar to salt. But MSG has a horrible reputation because it’s thought to cause reactions such as headaches, flushing, and rapid heartbeats. How could this potent magic dust have such bad rap?

Thinking about MSG made me remember when I was in the kitchen with my culinary genius friend Bill. He grabbed a red and white container of Accent which is pure MSG and sprinkled it in the soup. I was intrigued, suspicious, and horrified all at the same time. Is he trying to poison me? But I trusted Bill’s culinary expertise and the next time I was at the store, I bought a bottle of Accent of my very own.

Several years later I read the book “Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste”. The authors talk about how MSG got such a bad reputation and dispel the myth. They cite how the scientific community has rigorously studied MSG and found it to be benign. Nothing indicates it is more dangerous than ordinary household ingredients such as salt and baking powder. Good to know. MSG is made from a natural fermenting process, much like the one used to make yogurt, cheese, and soy sauce.

A dash of MSG adds that indescribable “oomph” to dishes. You know the feeling. That’s when you taste a thing you made and you think to yourself “darn . . . something is missing here; this tastes like a flat tire”. What to do? MSG to the rescue! A little dab will do you. And when I say little, I mean little, like ¼ or ½ teaspoon. This is NOT a case of “if some is good, more is better”. No. Add too much and your dish will take on a nasty, off flavor and you’ll probably have to throw it down the drain. I know because I have done this. MSG is dynamite – even more potent than salt – so blast your food with this savory flavor bomb and level-up your cooking with one small sprinkle. In fact, I call MSG “The Atomic Seasoning”. Maybe I should write the manufactures of Accent and suggest those three little words could be their tagline. Who knows, I might win a lifetime supply of Accent and a free trip to their manufacturing facility. Fun! Worldwide annual production is around three million tons. MSG, apparently you’re not such a bad boy after all because that is a whole lot of atomic sprinkles. Try MSG, you’ll like it!