Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The taste of MSG

 
Discount Thoughts has posted a wonderful description of how we taste the glutamate in monosodium glutamate [How we taste umami]. The taste is called "umami" and it's distinct from the four standard tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

The figure shows a glutamate molecule (yellow) bound to the umami receptor with inosine monophosphate (IMP) (green). You need both glutamate and IMP in order to get the umami taste.

Theme
A Sense of Smell
I know lots of people who can taste MSG but that's not the problem. There appear to be some other effects of this chemical that are much less pleasant.

The umami flavor is common in meats, cheese, seafood, and lots of other foods that are rich in protein. Vegetarians don't know what they're missing!


5 comments :

  1. seafood

    I think you meant to write "sea kittens."

    ReplyDelete
  2. "There appear to be some other effects of this chemical that are much less pleasant."

    Care to back that up? Only a very tiny minority of the population have any reaction to it - most claims of 'allergy' are not based in fact. It isn't an allergen, like peanuts or almonds are. MSG is naturally occurring (everything from breast-milk to sea-weed) and naturally made, and certainly isn't restricted to meat.

    Vego's certainly aren't missing out on it either. Well cooked tomato based pasta sauce is swimming in the stuff, and it occurs in mushrooms, potatoes, soy sauce, peas, broccoli, and pretty well anything else savoury with a strong and tasty flavour.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Most vegetarians eat cheese, by the way. Vegans do not. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. to "NotZed": so your philosophy is that since MSF doesn't appear to cause a novel disease of its own or an allergic reaction in most people, it doesn't matter that it has been scientifically linked to many established disorders and neurodegeneration?? very ignorant I suggest you go and eat a bunch of MSG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "it has been scientifically linked to many established disorders and neurodegeneration"

      No it hasn't.

      Delete