Monday, May 06, 2013

1980 Unsavory

A while back a Japanese chemist, pondering the flavor-enhancing qualities of fermented fish sauce, came upon an interesting discovery. Monosodium Glutamate. Turns out MSG stimulates your tastebuds in a different way than the Sweet-Sour-Salt-Bitter basic four we learned in health class. It’s another taste sensitivity. He called it umami.
As in, "Ooh mommy that's good!!"
Umami is the savory taste. You get it from rare or charred meats, tomatoes and suchlike. Savory foods are delicious.
The key ingredient in MSG is glutamate, the stimulator of umami. The prepared food industry jumped on it. Because glutamate not only provides savory flavor, it enhances other flavors too. Sweets are sweeter and salts are saltier. Flavors generally are rounder and more palatable.
Then came the MSG backlash. Although there is no rigorous scientific proof, enough people complained of swelling tissues and headaches that the food industry sought to obscure mention of MSG. After all, this is the same industry that's smart enough to call sugar "distilled cane juice."
So "MSG" disappeared. And just the word "glutamate" replaced it. Until people caught on again and the food industry realized that they could get glutamate from yeast. Look for the words "yeast extract" now in ingredient lists. A rather unsavory trick.
Ooh mommy, they are clever.
So recently I'm eating what I feel are healthy chips. Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues to be exact. Made with organic blue corn. Non-GMO. Gluten Free.
And suspiciously savory.
Because, according to the ingredients list, they include Torula Yeast. Which, I was happy to learn, comes from wood products. Organic wood products I'm sure.
Torula's also part of the Candida yeast family. A family responsible for all sorts of internal and external yeast issues.
But man, it's delicious.
"Ooh mommy, can Dita and I have more chips?"
America, ya gotta love it.

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