Monday, February 19, 2007

Fear of Food, Pt. 1
Prepare to have your illusions shattered. Remember several years ago how everyone said that monosodium glutamate (or msg) is bad for you? That it will make you sick, give you headaches, or worse?? I haven't bought into that argument for years, ever since I read Jeffrey Steingarten's myth-busting book It Must Have Been Something I Ate, which for you food fetishists and food-fearists should be on your must-read list. For years Steingarten was the food editor at Vogue Magazine, and his book is an informative, often hilarious, ever informative republishing of his many essays. Think you're lactose intolerant? He's thinking you're not (and you do realize there is virtually no lactose in butter and yogurt, right?). Even roasting the perfect chicken is covered in one of my favorite pieces.
One of his most memorable essays, written in 1999, was entitled “Why Doesn’t Everybody in China Have a Headache?”, regarding the seeming immunity of the Chinese to the flavoring agent msg, where it is a regular addition to many of their everyday foods while in the west it seems to inspire widspread panic. And now comes an Op-Ed piece in Sunday's New York Times by Fuchsia Dunlop on the same topic. She wrote it because: "Today the Chinese Year of the Pig begins, and Americans across the country will venture to their local Chinatowns for a festive meal." And since people born in the Year of the Pig have a natural intellectual curiosity (yours truly included) it seems a particularly appropriate time to visit the subject. It's a great piece.
Read it, believe it, because really, aren't there are SO many better things to be afraid of?

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