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Oct 1, 2006 08:49 PM

MSG in VChinatown - what to do? [moved topic from Manhattan board]

I have an apartment on East Broadway and love Chinese food, but excessive amounts of MSG wrecks me. Any suggestions? I often ask but to no avail. What is the pinyin for MSG, anybody know?

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    1. If you're sure you have a sensitivity to glutamates, the lack of "MSG" won't protect you from glutamates in ingredients like soy sauce and oyster sauce. (Or, for that matter, tomatoes or parmigiano, if you go to Italian restaurants.)

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        1. Since I'm not sensitive to MSG at all, I may be the wrong person to talk about this. But sometimes I think people imagine their sensitivity to the stuff. If you eat jams or jellies (MSG is in the pectin), soy sauce, tofu, yeast, malt, etc., etc., you're consuming MSG. Yet people rarely complain of any sensitivity to these foods.

          Anyway, that's my take. I could be wrong.

          1. [I originally posted this in the LA Board in response to a similar question].

            In most places I've gone to, it isn't a problem to withhold MSG. However, I always ask in Chinese.

            There are three main ways for MSG to end up in your foods:

            1. It is added during the cooking process. This is very easy to avoid. The cook will most likely add a bit more salt, though.

            2. It is added when preparing large batches of food for later use. This includes items such as egg rolls, anything marinated, soups, and broths that are used as a basis for gravies or sauces. Some of these, such as egg rolls, are easy to avoid. Others, such as sauces, are difficult to avoid.

            3. It is present in canned goods or some sauces (not usually soy sauce). If a restaurant uses these, it is difficult to avoid.

            When ordering, choose dishes with fresh ingredients and minimal sauce. The dishes should be made to order, not mass-produced (again, egg rolls are an example). Avoid soups.

            The Cantonese pronunciation for MSG is: May Jing.
            Pronounce "May" as in the month of May. Pronounce "Jing" the same way you sing "Jingle Bells."

            The Mandarin pronunciation for MSG is wei jing. (fourth and first tones respectively). Wei is pronounced "Way" except you should say it with a dropping tone, such as when you say the second word in the phrase, "Oh, sh*t!" [This was the way my Mandarin teacher explained it to our class] Pronounce "Jing" the same was as Cantonese.

            Just tell them: "No May Jing" or "No Wei Jing".