When I mentioned to one of my friends that I was going to be working with the MSGdish blog, her response was, “Oh my gosh! My husband is obsessed with MSG! He’s been driving all over town looking for it.” It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear, but it did inspire me. I invited them over for an umami brunch featuring a MSG blind taste test and set out to create a flavor packed menu.
On brunch day, we started out with a blind taste test of eggs. I created eggs seasoned three different ways – one without seasoning, one with salt, and one with monosodium glutamate (MSG). There was unanimous agreement that the unseasoned eggs were “bland” and the worst tasting of the three. My husband and guests were split on their preference for the other two, with the majority preferring the eggs seasoned with MSG. The taste test led to a discussion of “what is the flavor of MSG?” which digressed to the four of us sitting around the table curiously licking MSG out of our hands. The resulting descriptions varied, but generally consisted of “savory” and “oh, that’s what that flavor is called!”
To create the rest of our tasty umami brunch, I maximized the foods that have glutamate since glutamate is the amino acid that triggers the umami taste sensation. Foods like parmesan cheese, potatoes and aged meat naturally have high amounts of glutamate in them. And, of course, the seasoning MSG (monosodium glutamate) also contains glutamate. I worked these naturally high-glutamate foods and seasoning into my menu to create an umami-rich menu: savory velvet scrambled eggs with parmesan cheese, crispy smoked aged bacon, homemade cranberry orange muffins (not umami-ful, but still delicious), and shredded skillet hash browns with ketchup. Aged champagne also has higher levels of glutamate. Unfortunately, vintage champagne was not in my budget, so we had umami-lacking cheap champagne in our mimosas. And, to add more spice and umami to our lives, we also had Bloody Marys (tomatoes = umami).
As we wrapped up eating and finished our cocktails on the patio, we talked about where to find MSG so that my friends could do their own experimenting. (Monosodium glutamate aka ‘umami seasoning’, most often sold as Accent®, wasn’t at the supermarket down the street from us, but was in the spice aisle of one a little farther away.) Overall, I think I pulled off a delicious, educational and enjoyable brunch for all. I’d encourage you to do a little MSG taste test of your own; you’d be fascinated by how much MSG enhances flavor in savory foods. And if you do your own umami brunch experimenting, I’d love to hear about it.