As I told before, I am a Food Science and Technology student in an agricultural university. Food science and technology basically is the main part of food engineering. In Indonesia, there aren’t so much reasons for us enrolling for this class. It is not only because of the preferences of the freshman’s choices but also their parents. For most of us, food science is not an earn-living. That, the mindset itself has done so much about this country’s tangible problem in reference to food security.
Despite the reasons why I chose this as my studies because it had been my dream ever since my cousin enrolled on the same major, my parents and friends’ supports definitely involved. One of my friends, who now continuing her studies on International Relationship major, was really happy when I told her that I got accepted. She then challenged me to make a substitute for one of world’s greatest taste substances. We now call the taste as umami. It is a deliciousness that hardly described.
Umami is genuinely a Japanese word. It is the fifth-taste we can get besides the other four, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Maybe we haven’t heard so much about it cause the tongue itself mapped only for the other four tastes. The discovery of umami had been made up since 1902 by a Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda. You can further find about umami here.
If you wonder how it tastes, you can bear in mind tasting parmesan cheese, meat, chicken soup, mushroom, or else the glutamic acid containing foods. Yes, the key to meet the umami is to meet the glutamic acid inside. Glutamic acid can be found in our body already and also a man-made one. A synthetic glutamic acid put on foods called as monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG not exactly giving you a definite taste which is umami. It works to richer the four taste at one time. I used to think that the MSG itself can be replaced by the ultimate collaboration of sugar and salt, but no, everyone, it just won’t happen. Talking about MSG, I guess you are wondering about its harm now, yes?
Back to the challenge.
The harm of MSG, it is also a thing that brought my friend challenging me. She currently living a vegetarian life. She concerns much about everything enters her mouth. Naively, we do know that MSG brings bad effect to our body. It causes a cramp in your neck and reduces the brain works. At least, it is what we can say when talking about MSG. But still, we add it to our food, the restaurant practices add it to most of the menus, the food industry add it too to the snacks, and so on. It really gives us umami and it makes us consume it even more. That is the power of glutamic acid. Now, do we even really care about the doses of it? How harmful can it be?
My yesterday lectures, which conducted by Mr.Pur drove me to surf it on the web. Mr.Pur said, as scientist (on going) we can’t be just believing what majority said, especially the stuttered said one which no one knows the factual. He said that the usage of MSG is not ‘that’ harm. It is a taste richer just like sugar. Analogically, the sugar (here I mean sucrose) gives us sweetness and MSG gives us umami-ness. There is no exact prohibit number of the usage doses in daily basis. You don’t know how much sugar you should put to be safe. When you make a cup of tea, you’ll add it a tea-spoon or two if you want. But you won’t add it so much till seven tea-spoon cause you know that is beyond sweet and oppositely gives you a bad taste. So sugar has a self-limiting factor mechanism. So does the MSG. You won’t put it so much to make your food umami-ful.
On the other point, due to the food chemicals, everything is a toxic. The concentrate you add is what make a total difference. That’s the point. And Mr.Pur asked us “Have you ever heard about ones who got poisoned by water?” Nah-ah. We should still learn a lot.
So, where does the cramping-neck come from?
It is usually called as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. I read about the controversy here. I suggest you to read that also. It is not the MSG harmful. So, I’d be making a change on the challenge, I guess.