Dear American palates: You are wrong. This was the message Chef David Chang delivered in a recent MAD symposium (video below) on the misconceptions surrounding the taboo subject of monosodium glutamate (MSG). "All evidence suggests that MSG is not [uniquely] harmful," said Chang, "it's just a delicious salt."
Chang, famous across the world for his fusion of European technique with pan-Asian comfort food, is a long-time opponent of the cultural prejudice he calls "Chinese Food Syndrome."
He claims that people's perceived hatred of Asian food comes from an American myth that MSG is an allergen that causes everything from headaches to nausea, despite the fact humans happily consume boatloads of MSG via things like fast food, tomatoes, vegemite and plain old breast milk.
MSG, or umami, is recognized as the fifth taste (along with sour, sweet, bitter and salty). It's natural, ubiquitous, and like other foods, its components are found in the human body. And Chang pleads with his audience to challenge their cultural biases with common sense and scientific evidence.
We at TORO have long been umami backers. So to the gastro-zealots out there: We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so.