please, no MSG

Many Chinese restaurants in the US have small signs displayed showing they cook with “no msg.”  So far, I have not seen the equivalent in China.  But being that I don’t read their characters, who knows.

MSG has a bad rap and maybe for a good reason.  It’s damn hard to know for sure, but one thing is certain, the commercial version is highly processed, so it can’t be that good.

Monosodium Glutamate is a type of concentrated salt.  It’s a cheap way to enhance flavor.  The food industry, because of its bad rap, uses an ingredient called “yeast extract” as an alias to msg in many foods.

Most Chinese restaurant kitchens have three small bowls next to the stir fry pans containing processed white crystals of sugar, salt, and msg.  Most dishes get all three.  I haven’t quite gotten down the mandarin to say “no processed white stuff please,” but I do tell them “no put msg please.”  Seems like the safer way to go since I eat Chinese food twice a day every day.  Judging by their reaction to my request, none of the restaurants I frequent have the “no msg” characters displayed.

one of the more "service-style" restaurants near my apartment

one of the more “service-style” restaurants near my apartment

If I had the time and the discipline, I’d eat nothing but raw fruits and vegetables.  Studies show that raw diets are the way to go.  But apart from salads, getting raw vegetables down on a consistent basis is not easy.  It’s time consuming, all the washing, especially with suspect water.  Cooking them therefore is not a bad alternative.

enough going on that my iPad because secondary entertainment.

enough going on that my iPad becomes secondary entertainment.

Fortunately, Chinese are experts at fast cooking.  They generally cook on extra-hot burners which quick-cook vegetables.

some lovely spinach, sans msg

some lovely spinach, sans msg

I eat take-out just about every day.  No time to cook and wash up afterwards at home.  The exception is an occasional Saturday lunch out.  Trouble is, most of the restaurants button up shortly after 1pm, no matter what day.  Even though I’m up at 6am, getting to lunch by 1pm is pushing it.

broccoli in broth

broccoli in broth

Yesterday, I went to one of the local places in my same block and, as usual, I’m the last one eating while they are cleaning the floors and waiting for me to skedaddle.

what would the table setting be without an ashtray?

what would the table setting be without an ashtray?

Truthfully, I haven’t noticed a taste difference when forgetting to ask for “no msg.”  Who knows what they do in the kitchen.  I can’t hang out there and oversee the cooks.  I’ll just hope it’s the reverse placebo effect — if I believe there is no msg in the food, no harm no foul.

last evening's take home, in front of netflix

last evening’s take home, in front of netflix

another take home spinach, with touch of garlic

another take home spinach, with touch of garlic

this morning's fruit, patiently waiting for the blender, to become daily smoothie

this morning’s fruit, patiently waiting for the blender to become daily smoothie. no msg here