Did you know “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” was invented in 1968? Not identified, not discovered, not researched, but yep, invented.
Before 1968, Americans loved monosodium glutamate. The “new” condiment was introduced to the U.S. just 30 years prior and was added to a variety of foods to enrich flavors. The American public embraced it with open arms until… Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a speculative letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.
With warmer weather just around the corner, many consumers are turning to lighter meals in anticipation of shedding winter clothes. Some of the less-filling lunches and dinners my family loves include anything made with white meat chicken. Not only does chicken have a welcoming savory flavor, it is an economical protein source.
Not to dismiss our love of chicken wings and fried chicken (they are still favorites), it is common to find one of several chicken salad recipes being made in our kitchen.
But don’t let the term “salad” confuse you. Chicken salad can be many things, including but certainly not limited to, a bowl of spring greens topped with fried chicken tenders. “Chicken salads” are much more than that.
Ketchup is probably my favorite condiment. I use it in cooking (e.g., meatloaf, my famous baked beans, let’s not forget sloppy Joe’s), on sandwiches (a must-have on grilled hot dogs and hamburgers) and in a variety of other ways (I should confess I can’t eat French fries without lots of it, but you probably could’ve guessed that at this point!). When my love of ketchup first began, little did I know that it was likely in part because of my love of tomatoes, which provides an undeniable umami taste.
We here at MSGdish love recounting the story of Dr. Kikunae Ikeda’s original discovery of the little crystals that would one day became known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). While Ikeda certainly did not invent the umami taste– it has been in the foods of many cultures for centuries– he was the first to distill the crystallized form of umami so that it could be used in an even wider variety of foods! You see, before Dr. Ikeda, there was no simple way to sprinkle pure umami seasoning on food.
If you are into healthy eating and have never heard of Washoku, hold on to your hats! The attributes of this eating plan may astonish you.
What exactly is Washoku you ask? One writer for the Japan Times puts it this way: “Whenever I ponder the question of what Washoku, the quintessential Japanese cuisine, is, this is the meal I think of. It is simple yet complicated, plain yet sophisticated. It is salty, sour, sweet, slightly bitter and full of umami. And it is beautifully presented. Washoku does not hit you in the face with spice or other flamboyant flavors. It is a gentle caress as it satisfies your senses.”
Beyond that mouthwatering description, Washoku is an eating plan filled with vegetables (e.g., bamboo shoots, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, mushrooms) and tart and sweet fruits (e.g., melon, citrus). Grains such as rice, buckwheat and soba noodles as well as nuts (e.g., chestnuts) are key to this plan. Add to that a wide variety of fish (e.g., tuna, salmon) and soy products (e.g., tofu), both of which serve as the protein component of Washoku.
Sounds healthy and delicious? You bet. Many people, when thinking about traditional Japanese cuisine, are aware…