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.
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.
Tokyo, Japan is the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world; in fact, the entire country of Japan has 429 restaurants with the honor. No other country comes close. It’s safe to say that Japan is one of the top culinary destinations in the world. Chefs and foodies alike have speculated about why Japan has been able to uphold this unique honor for nearly decade: some say it’s the small restaurants that allow for attention to detail, some say it’s the island’s ability to produce fresh and dynamic produce year-round, some say it’s the distinctive umami flavor present in so many dishes that is responsible for Japan’s food successes.
Dan Pashman, author, public speaker, host and self-described “eater, not foodie,” started his year off right. In January, Pashman’s podcast, The Sporkful, released an episode titled “This Podcast Contains MSG.” The two-time James Beard nominated podcast began the episode by playing media clips from horrified people claiming to have fallen ill due to MSG exposure. Pashman takes over the narration and describes the story of Dr. Ho Man Kwok’s personal anecdotal speculation that led to the coining of the phrase Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.
Cinephiles love this time of year; it’s awards season! It’s the period from December to early March when a majority of the entertainment industry gives recognition to one another and occasionally allows viewers to participate by voting. There’s something great about watching my favorite celebrities get dressed up in elaborate outfits, cry and laugh while accepting well-deserved awards and giving incredible speeches.
For those of us who are into film, fashion and food, the best part about awards season are the viewing parties. We discuss outfit choices, our favorite categories and nominees, cheer on winners and… eat!