Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The MSG conundrum part 2

Part 2

So What is MSG?

MSG is short for monosodium glutamate and it is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamate is an amino acid found naturally in all living cells as well as many foodstuffs. The human body produces about 40 grams of glutamate a day and this is where newborn babies who are breast fed get their version of "MSG" as human breast milk contains ten times more glutamate than cows milk. No wonder it tastes soo good :)

In neuroscience glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that plays a key role in long-term potentiation and is important for learning and memory. Glutamic acid is in a class of chemicals called excitotoxins, which are substances that overstimulate neurotransmitters (such as glutamate) to the point of cell damage, otherwise known as "excitotoxicity."

A source of debate among scientists is what effects excitotoxins may or may not have on the central nervous system and brain related disorders such as Altzheimer's disease. The results of animal testing has raised the question of whether or not MSG or other glutamates can harm the nervous system.

In humans, proteins are broken down by digestion into amino acids which serve as metabolic fuel for other functional roles in the body. The naturally occuring glutamate found in foods is called "bound" glutamate and it is the good glutamate. The bad glutamate is known as "free" glutamate and it is obtained in a factory by various processes, then modified or fermented and refined to what is known as monosodium glutamate.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hygiene in India

I remember when I arrived in Bombay, India for my first overseas posting.  The biggest "culture shock" I experienced wasn't moving from a developed country to a developing country; it was in seeing how suppliers delivered food. 

A common sight while travelling through the congested, gridlocked (that is an understatment) streets of Bombay was to see eggs delivered by a kid on a bicycle.  The bicycles used to deliver eggs would have this rack on the front and you would see flats of eggs stacked so high the kid could barely see above them, all the while these eggs are probably at a constant temperature of around 90 degrees farenheit as they sat in that natural incubator known as the Bombay heat and humidity.

At least they cooked quicker since they didn't have to be heated as much.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chef pet peeves

Here is a bit more insight to the world of chefs

Chef pet peeve number 1: you are using the cling wrap and it tears on you.  Worse, when someone else tears it and doesn't fix it and you have to figure out where it started

Chef pet peeve number 2: Mayonnaise.  In professional kitchens we get mayonnaise in 5 gallon buckets and the may comes in a plastic bag.  Putting a thick sauce in a plastic bag only creates waste and is a pain to get the remaining mayo out of

Chef pet peeve number 3: Stickers on fruit or vegetables.  For those of you who eat an apple at lunch or something, taking that sticker off the apple may not seem like a big deal but when you are cooking for a banquet of 500 people and you have to peel and cut two cases of apples, you will be cursing those damn stickers.  Worse, who is the poor schmuck whose job it is to put those damn stickers on anyways??!!!