For those of you who love to cook, but also find yourself perpetually curious about the “why’s” of a particular technique or specific ingredient, you may already be familiar with some of the writings and videos of food scientist Harold McGee (@harold_mcgee). I’ll confess, I was unaware until a friend sent me an entertaining video about MSG (yes, monosodium glutamate) that was posted on the Fine Dining Lovers site. In the opening seconds you may worry this could be a boring lecture, but its creative overlay of graphics onto McGee’s talking head very quickly made it an enjoyable and engaging experience. (I wish my college professors had tried this technique.)
Dr. McGee, who was involved in the acclaimed “Mind of a Chef” series, does a great job of putting food science in a context that’s both fun and pragmatic – and after you watch his videos, you feel quite smug at your newfound knowledge. In the video, which is featured in the April 21, 2016 Fine Dining Lovers blog titled “No, You’re Not Allergic to MSG,” he explains why MSG years ago got saddled with its unfortunate perception baggage, and he goes on to explain MSG’s natural occurrence in food and the delicious role it can play in cooking. Dr. McGee also has videos that discuss salt and gluten that you may want to check out.
In this age of mass misinformation about food and ingredients, it’s nice to see people stepping up to the plate with teaching styles that help us learn in spite of ourselves. This is one I’m going to share with my 12-year old aspiring chef daughter! (She’ll especially like the graphics and sound effects that pop up during the explanation of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”!)