Day 236: MSG-Laced XLB

Writing this a day later, I discovered several articles published today about this very topic—MSG, or monosodium glutamate.

Dining at a restaurant our family friends chose in Gaithersburg, my parents and I started off the meal with positive impressions. After all, the name of the restaurant itself has “Shanghai” in it, and everyone knows how much I love Shanghai.

However, after the meal, all my parents could talk complain about was the “ridiculous” amount of MSG in the food. Unlike my parents, I am not sensitive to MSG or even aware of it when it is in my food. According to them, you know it’s in it when you feel the urge to drink a ton of water both during and after your meal. My dad is especially averse to MSG and often tells servers in restaurants to make sure to not add MSG.

So when I found that the Washington Post and CNET published articles about how MSG being “bad for you” is actually a myth, based on a video posted today by the American Chemical Society (talk about a biased source…), I was interested in learning more.

The Post writes:

It doesn’t produce a flavor on its own, but it boosts the tongue’s perception of certain flavors – “umami” in particular –  that are already present in the food.

That would explain the uncomfortable sensations my parents feel on their tongues. Despite not being able to recognize the additive in my food, my body doesn’t totally ignore the effects of MSG, either. Once the three of us returned home, we immediately tried masking that lingering MSG taste in our mouths with fruit.

We wanted to like this place. The soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) were fantastic. Was MSG necessary? Not at all.

Xiaolongbao at JDS Shanghai Famous Food in Gaithersburg, MD
Watermelon xiaolongbao? That’s a first.