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You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

I draw the line back to those palmy pre GW Bush League days when the FDA required precisely what was in the food to be on the label. And how much of it.

NO: it is NOT relatively easy to avoid added MSG by avoiding foods that list MSG, autolyzed yeast extract, etc, on their labels. Or - even better - by avoiding highly processed foods in general and being careful about which restaurants you visit. Mostly because it is frequently not on the label, or on the menu so we all wouldn't be here asking for it to be. Duh. The food industry has figured out tha this is one they can walk all over with impunity and, so they have.

Once the FDA generously relaxed their rules, you could add as msg as you liked and simply call it flavoring, spice extractives, or my very favorite: natural flavor.

Just how dumb do you think all these people in pain are that they can't figure out what to avoid on a label--or in a restaurant. All we want to know is if MSG is in the product and if so what level of it so we can simply choose wheter or not we want to avoid it. Period.

Why exactly is this so egregiously much to ask. One could even if they were curious enough ask why is it there in the first place. Arsenic I am told imparts a nice sweet taste to whatever it is added to. Why not toss in some of that too.

Jeez. I am so tired of pseudo-scientists with no standing other than being able to type blogging out of the seat of their pants to "solve" this problem for all of us. Your opinion has about as much relevance to any of us who have experienced this misery, some for decades, as what shade of toast your toaster disgorges.

Feb 10, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

Fine with me. I can either believe not just my body, which would make me some sort of singular freak, but the countless and ever increasing anecdotal reports of people who either are all becoming hypochondriacs en masse or are being sickened in a way that simply show there is a problem with the testing procedures. Which merely seem to prove only that they cannot come up with a consistent result to a problem that varies symptomatically from individual to individual.

Basically saying: you aren't sick because we can't prove you are. Therefore all the thousands and increasing thousands of you are nothing but a mass herd of delusionists.
However, I note not one person sneering at this problem has answered the same question I keep asking over and over. Why not simply let everyone CLEARLY and accurately know what it is in the list of ingredients to the food that we are all eating. Then the consumer can simply decide whether he or she wants to gamble on consuming it. What exactly is so wrong with doing that?

If you do not want to believe it, don't. Just don't force those of us who have to experience decades of the difference between your theory and our fact to suffer all too literally the painful consequences that have no rational need to happen. Other than to line some additive company's pockets. ....And give an on-line pulpit to trolls with a penchant for pseudo-science.

Feb 10, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

I asked the manager. It turns out his mother has the same problem severely and he assured me she had never become ill.
I've gone there for 5 years since and never once become ill from anything there. Also they don't use frozen meat and it's acceptable as fast food gets.

Feb 09, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

It's the processing.
I was really shocked when I went into Safeway, a place where I usually avoid buying chicken, to pick up a whole chicken and notice in small print that they have helpfully added "plumpers" in an injected solution. They also do this with pork, I am told.
Thank God, I always followed my mother's advice that the most important person in your food life should be a good butcher. Costco meat too is excellent.
As for restaurants, you are most likely to be made sick at chain places like RR and Applebee's. If I need to (rarely) eat fast food, I go for Wendy's since they have no MSG in their food.

Feb 09, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

How odd. I was just thinking pretty much the exact same thing just before I clicked on and read your comment about their own children telling them this .

We who are older and sicker will not live to see the changes in food safety regulation. I think you're right . As the population of people who have consumed the highest level of unregulated additives in history overwhelm the health industry with an old age that pretty much proves what we are discussing, Big Food and their lobbyists will no longer be able to poison at will. Remember we are just the start of the Boomer Wave dying off. And how we die will reflect what is killing us. Cancer and alzheimer's and macular degeneration are not pychosomatic.

I would also recommend you ignore eatzalot . Trolls looking for arguments abound on line and he has apparently chosen to infest this site. He has as much pseudo-science learning or influence with the food industry as any telephone pole out your window does. So, who cares what he blathers on about.

For everyone else, all people with an MSG issue are asking is that they be told what it is in whatever they are eating. They can then choose whether they want to eat it or not.
This is not about demanding that it be removed- logical as an ingredient that does more harm than good would be. All we want to do is know what is in our food so we can choose. Period.

The question might better be, why do you not want to know what is in your food?
An issue that is relevant to us today might just be a lifesaver for you or your loved ones tomorrow. After all since this is a cumulative sensitivity what makes you think you won't be the one suffering in five years or so. And it will probably be your children having to take action to save themselves and you from yoursleves.

Just try to imagine what this issue that never had to even be is going to cost healthwise over the next 20 years.
People who are being poisoned and don't want to be told about it. Or far worse, let anyone else be told. Just amazing when you think about it.

Feb 09, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

And where better than some internet blog, to pretend to have unsupported qualifications and substitute opinions for information?

Jan 20, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

I'm not sure what you and eatzalot share as a problem. My posts have been limited to MSG. I am not writing about any other additives.

If you want to think my doctor indulged me and personally attack me as a hypochondriac -- a meaningless term unless you have a lot more knowledge of any patient , by the way, ---knock yourself out. It's probably because that is your level of your understanding of medicine.
Once you get sick that might well change.

There are two of you spamming this discussion. There are lots more of us who do get sick, reading your comments and rolling our eyes.
The idea that you equate naturally occurring trace elements with refined distillates pretty much should give us all a clue as to where your expertise is at.

Frankly I really have no reason to care whether you think MSG is what is making me sick. I know it, my doctor knows it. the rest of us who get sick know it.

What we want to know is why isn't this food safety hazard being labelled so it can be avoided? And I am curious as to why you don't address this as an issue instead of telling people that they are hypochondriacs?

Do you tell people who have life-threatening allergies to nuts and shellfish that their doctors indulge them , too? If this is serious enough that people are writing in telling you that they repeatedly find themselves in emergency rooms with it, how can you be certain whether people haven't died undiagnosed of it?

As for being a "fad'. Would that it were. I have had to live with the increasing annoyance and danger for 35 years.
I won't be here in the next 25 years, but if you will, you can be sure that how they deal with this public health safety threat won't be as a "fad".

It is an aging society, with the eldest and most sickly being fed increasing amounts of this stuff and the youngest subjected to it with inadequate testing.

How are you any different than all those "experts" who kept denying that cigarettes and cancer were linked?

Be that as it may, why do you have a problem with the idea that people who are getting long-term sick are simply asking for a public health safety right: to know what is in their food?
Who are you exactly to decide that for them?

Jan 20, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

Oh, I get it now. When I, and everyone else gets sick from additives that have no actual reason to be in our food and no indication that they are actually in it, ---which is all we really are seeming to be asking, isn't it---we aren't being sick, we are being less intellectually superior than some guy with a keyboard and an internet chemistry set.
Bottom line: you are not sick and in pain because you ate MSG and it is reacting within your body. You are just not as smart as some foodie blogger is determined to prove his online theories with nothing actual to back it up to be. Feel better, now?
Silly me. I forgot who inhabits the internet. I think I'll take this about as seriously as my doctor, who first informed me about the nature of MSG sensitivity and the harm it was causing me, would.

I mean do I listen to a guy at Stanford with John Hopkins and Harvard Med degrees who helped me get well, or do I bow to all this genius we've been made privy to? I am sure that there is a flat-earth theory he works on during his off hours.... when he isn't busy being "a master chef"

Jan 20, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

beserious and eatzalot

If you're a chef and you can't figure out the difference between what occurs in nature only at trace levels to the intensity of a distilled chemical--well i don't want to think about what else you might not be aware of in your stewpot. After 30 years no less.

i love this utter crap about fad paranoias.It is not a fad paranoia if you eat something that makes you ill. It is not a fad paranoia if when you drag yourself to a Stanford Hospital specialist with his string of degrees to find out what is wrong and it takes months and lots of money to figure it out , eliminating the MSG he tells you solves the problem within days.
It's not like i went to some holistic guy waving sage in the Berkeley hills.
And speaking of Berkeley, if MSG is so great why don't you ask Alice Waters just how often she uses MSG at Chez Panisse. Be sure to tell her you're a chef, .

You have both neglected to comment on the simple fact that people do have a right know what is in their food. Did I tell you to stop using it? I'd just like the option of not having to spend the week bedridden if i am stuck with you as the chef somewhere. A Disclaimer on the menu is no big deal.

I'd love it if it WERE a fad. I could decide next week that it would be safe to eat the things that have sent me to various emergency rooms over 2 decades.
It's not like I seek them out. You have bee a chef for 30 years but I was an obsessive foodie before you were born. i love street food and 4 star and loathe fad anything. Gluten people make me laugh. And other than the constant annoyance of having to ferret a poison with no actual use in food like MSG out of my food, i actually do not much care what is in good quality food.
If it were just me, i'd consider myself a culinary elephant man and singularly unlucky freak. But what do you think all the people you run across are telling you when they say they get sick after eating MSG?

When governments ban their kids from a product that actually serves no real food use ---nutritional, culinary or otherwise -- then that is saying something. especially when they have the medical evidence to back it up.
And last time i checked, both thailand and japan were in Asia not in North America.
The japanese government were the ones who ordered the study on the increase in nearsightedness. Not my local health food store.

Eat as much MSG as you want. Knock yourself out. All I have to say for you is get ready for how expensive is to find out what having macular degeneration and all the rest is all about. Over something that has no need to be in food anyway. Hope you have good health insurance. it cost me nearly $40,000 to find out why I was getting sicker and sicker. Courtesy of the food industry,

If you've been a chef 30 years and are that closed minded and nasty, you'll end up with the sort of health issues that come along with that.. My condolences to your kitchen staff for having to put up with your mindset.
I'd love the name of your restaurant so I can avoid it like the plague and literally save myself the headache, BTW..

Jan 19, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

So beserious and eatzalot: all these people are writing about being made ill by what is in their food. Either we are all suffering from some mass delusion that causes the same cluster of symptoms or we all have nothing better to do.

beserious--keep your day job. People who die of allergies are generally sensitized over a period of increasingly dangerous symptoms.

eatzalot- if you depend non selectively on what is on the internet for your medical information, you are even more ignorant than beserious.

Either way, you are both missing the point of what people are saying here. We want to know what is in our food. We have a public heath safety right to know that.

if you are proud to serve up MSG --- fine by me. Just let me know it is in there so i don't have to lose several days in the most miserable flat on my back pain because some moron restaurateur decided to cute up his food and not tell anyone.
Frankly, I've come to believe that the problem is as much as how MSG is tested when it comes to accuracy. It produces various symptoms in different people, often in various intensities. it is a puzzle to me why I can sometimes only get a mild headache and others be near to going to the emergency room by the time dessert is served.
I don't get palpitations. People who do sometimes don't get headaches. The headaches I get from MSG are utterly distinctive and not like any other headaches I have. I am not a headache person otherwise.

Again, MSG is a CUMULATIVE sensitivity. That buzz you feel when you eat out and you are in your 20's? That may be why you're getting chest pains, extraordinary fatigue or the feeling of suddenly being very unwell when you're in your 40's.

And as far as reading about it. Legitimate medical tests show it to be associated to the development of macular degeneration and brain problems in the elderly and nearsightedness and brain and behavioral problems in children (possibly due to it crossing the mother's placenta and sensitizing kids earlier on). In Thailand it is no longer allowed to be served in schools, speaking of healthy Asians. Japan's nearsightedness stats went up parallel to increasing usage of MSG over a couple of decades. it is not a traditional Asian ingredient ,but created in a lab-- look it up-- and only really got into people's foods from the 40's onward.
Jus think. Thailand is now medically ahead of us when it comes to protecting our own kids instead of protecting the food industry.

Jan 19, 2014
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

I've read 65 comments --mostly about MSG. Mine somewhere in there was written while i was actually undergoing an attack..
There's a few things i'd like to point out. if you, as a manufacturer or chef, want to put MSG in your food, do it. Just for f--k's sake, label it clearly. so the people who get sick from it can choose not to eat it. Why exactly is that too much to ask?
Those who think that people who get sick from MSG don't til they're told it's in there are dead wrong. Actually some of the people who've they've done that to may really be dead. There is no way to diagnose death from this, is there? My big worry is that one day one of these severe headaches will end in a fatal stroke. who would know what I ate?
That malicious moron of a restaurateur in the comments gloating about he puts it on his KC strips and then serves it to customers? if he did that to me, he'd have a lawsuit the next day. Why would you hurt your own customers?
Hopefully we'd be before a judge who has had to deal with consequences too. It is as scary as it is surprising when you tell people abut MSG incurred medical problems how everybody seems to have them. But not really surprising on reflection since it is a cumulative sensitivity and we are an aging population. All of you saying meh, it's your problem--- talk to us when you hit 50. Then it likely will be yours, too. And that would include moronic chefs, too.

Jan 18, 2014
gala in Features

What's the Best Frozen Pizza?

Well, you now have a reason to go to Walmart. being stuck in a non-Italian rural area , Freschetta had been a so-so default for me. But out of desperation I tried something I saw in Walmart. Marfano wood-fired frozen pizzas from Italy. $5.00 for a medium. Total deal.

Being a Sicilian-American New Yorker you need to know I am incredibly persnickety about pizza.
These were really,really good. Especially considering they are made in Northern Italy.
I just found out online they sell frozen crusts and I think I need to try them out.
I doctored my 4 cheese with thin sausage and mushroom slices and some sauteed broccoli rabe and a bit of fresh basil and oregano .Ans some good olive oil, Being true Italia pizza they are not heavy on the toppings and the sauce is so much nicer.

Oh and some Galbani mozzarella sotto l'aqua. When this stuff is really fresh it is some wonderful mozz. I've been gorging on it and fresh garden tomatoes and basil for weeks.

Nov 02, 2012
gala in General Topics

Win Cool Kitchen Swag on CHOW’s "The Talk" Gadget Giveaway!

Chow Swag. Can it get any better than that?

Jul 23, 2012
gala in Features

How to Cut Hard Winter Squash Without Hacking Off Your Hand

I got SO fed up with the whole dealing with big knives and unbalanced shapes thing.
so I decided to just bake the whole thing at 375 for about 20 minutes til it begins to soften and then cut it. Works like a charm each and every time. And I think it adds a bit more flavor.

It hasn't failed me yet.
And it is so much easier to deal with.

Nov 20, 2011
gala in Features

ALDI Stores: Quality Products at Deep Discount??

I so hope someone from Aldi ever reads this. I used to live in New York and was addicted to Aldis, especially for baking items. Their dark German chocolate bars are just heaven and I sorely miss them.

also their Appleton hams are the best supermarket ham I've ever had. Not surprising since Aldis is a German owned chain. I desperately miss always having one of those hams in the fridge. There is certainly no equivalent here in Washington state.

Bottom line the best thing about Aldi's is the attention to quality. And it's so inexpensive that if you don't like something you try out, it's no big deal.

Aldis and Trader Joe's are owned by the same people. I just wish that Aldis had the same commitment to less preservatives and additive that TJ's has. I am extremely allergic to MSG and it's in way too many things at Aldi's.

But for staples that would be my first stop, if only they would ever open in Washington state. If I ever get back to teh East Coast again, I am saving space in my suitcase for Aldis.

I wish someone from Aldis would explain why they have no West Coast presence at all and so many close together back East. . We really,really need one here. And they'd make a fortune over night.

I'd like to suggest Aldis form a partnership with Costco on the West Coast and work with that.

Oct 01, 2011
gala in Chains


two suggestions:

Avoid Bruges on a weekend. Go in the middle of the week and it is so much less crowded.

We went one fall and had it all to ourselves. it was fabulous.

Also try Blond de Bruges. A local beer and probably the best beer I have ever tasted. Still daydream about it.

Can't remember the restaurant, though.

I can't say that I had any really memorable food in Belgium--other than chocolate of course.

To tell you the truth my favorite place to eat was Le Pain Quotidien. Much , much better than the own in NY.

Don't let the idea of it being a small chain fool you. Excellent pastries, bread and very, very good steak tartare sandwiches, soups and salads. And tres reasonable

May 06, 2011
gala in Europe

Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Challenge

Just got a box of thin mints. And the quality was so inferior to the thin mint of yesteryear, the only thing I can think of doing with them is giving them away to someone with less tastebuds. How do you take the best cookie on the planet and turn it into some tasteless dollar store clone? Really disappointed. Waited all week to open the box this weekend. I think I'm going to try either making my own or look for brands that are similar.
Here's a suggestion to the girl scouts. Let some store like Target or Walmart carry them and take over quality control .Because too obviously no one is doing it now.

Mar 20, 2011
gala in Home Cooking

ALDI Stores: Quality Products at Deep Discount??

I so miss my NY Aldis. The very best ham I've eaten anywhere was an Appleton ham I bought there for about a third of what one would cost at Costco. And their Moser chocolate is the steal of the year. Fabulous dark chocolate for almost no money.
i could go on and on. but everyone finds treats there.
I don't understand why there are none on the West Coast. i am in Washington. Has anyone heard of any plans for expansion out this way?

Mar 18, 2011
gala in Chains

Best Grocery store in Olympia, ethnic, discount or otherwise

Hi. Trying to maximize my good food time shopping in or near Olympia to Longview.
Any hidden treasures that you know about?

Also do you the name of/address or have you tried the new Mennonite/Amish grocery in Rochester?
Also what stalls at the Farmer's Market do you go to for the best whatever.

Mar 12, 2011
gala in Pacific Northwest

help replicating mild szechuan sauce

I have found if you ask politely and show interest especially in a foreign restaurant at a time when the kitchen isn't busy, everyone has always been very glad to tell me the details. Especially if i ask what this special ingredient might be.
Generally the chef seems to be flattered that someone cares enough to ask and like sthe idea that customers are appreciative. It's not like you're asking Nobu how he makes black cod or anything

Feb 16, 2011
gala in Home Cooking

help replicating mild szechuan sauce

why don't you just go over to the restaurant and ask them what they used?

Feb 16, 2011
gala in Home Cooking

Supermarket Soup with Class

These are a lot better when you use them as a basis for a risotto or to just use thinned with water into making rice.

I find that many of these soups need some sort of fat to jazz them up. A BIG swirl of olive oil works wonders.
I added a spoonful of bacon fat from some hog jowl bacon to the carrot cashew ginger and some chives. It was really, really good. Served with blue corn chips.

I agree with previous post. We are all in dire need of a decent chicken stick that has no MSG or MSG clones in it. Perhaps the answer is to make frozen condensed chicken stock. The way orange juice is made. I kind of do that myself. i always use about a third less water when making a pot of soup . And add water after defrosting. Why store a lot of water? And you can control maximum thickness that way.
Look for them at grocery outlet and even some dollar stores. They are close to pull date so don't plan on a winter's worth.

Jan 27, 2011
gala in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

I am so tired of all this bullshhit about NOT being allergic to MSG.
Yes, asswhole, I am. It is the reason I am not at work RIGHT NOW. I have an unbelievably bas sinus headache, am wheezing g and hurting love rand feel absolutely exhausted. And this only half as bad as it can get.

when some moron decides to put it in a product and change the name of it rather than eliminate it so the people who ARE ALLERGIC won't be sick the way I am right now, those poisoners became a public menace.

One in six people have some level of sensitivity to this substance. It Increases with age. And crosses the placenta to affect children's neural development.
Feel lousy after eating fast food, cold cuts, chain restaurant meals? Guess why?
Don't get cute about broccoli and mushrooms. They have it in a completely different inactive organic form in their chemical makeup.
I can eat them all day long.I eat one maruchan instant noodles or canned beef bullion, for example, and i am a half an hour away from being in an emergency room.
If you want put it in your product fine.
But frigging label it. Why is that so much to ask?
Why are you eating stuff that will hurt you or your kids sooner or later, anyway.
I am a living proof that this is no myth. It will and does make you sick.

Jan 24, 2011
gala in Features

What's the Difference Between a Macaroon and a Macaron?

In the eighties San francisco had two scrumptious bakeries now gone
One on Chestnut had exceptionally good French almond macarons baked in madeleine pans . I think they might have had honey in them.

The other was part of a cookie chain on Polk street and had big hefty nose shaped macaroons that had some stupid name and were a combination of almond and coconut and utterly delectable. I so wish I had recipes for either or both.

Apr 26, 2010
gala in Features

Baked Sweet Potato

Forget the X.

Put onto a piece of foil to bake.
Just wait about 20 minutes and then insert one or two metal shish kabob skewers.
Cuts the baking time to about 45-50 minutes.
I like mine best with those tiny diced prosciutto cubes from Trader Joe's and some chopped chives and butter.

Jan 12, 2010
gala in Recipes

Creamy Potato-Leek Soup

When I make meatloaf , I completely cover it with bacon slices.
Later I use this bacon diced in soups---like I plan to do in this one.
Actually, it's on the stove right now.
Leave the bacon in slices , fish it out and dice it after you've blended the soup

I'd serve it sprinkled with chives whether its'hot or cold.

Dec 29, 2009
gala in Recipes


Just made this again. Great.
Forgot to tell you to add some cumin seed, to taste,and always rub cumin and unpowdered dried herbs before adding to release the oils.
Also this is best at a bring just to a boil and simmer. I turn the chicken 20 minutes in and turn it off and let it sit for a little when the sweet potato chunks are almost tender, so they won't over cook.
Also, next time I'll start out with a cup of the liquid and keep adding a bit more at a time til I get it creamy . This was a bit too runny.
I always end up adding the last of a jar of peanut butter into which I stir very warm stock to melt it and get it all out.
And I love this over couscous. Everyday Foods has a great easy way to prepare it. Look on the site.

Dec 05, 2009
gala in Home Cooking


This was my recipe.
Anytime a recipe calls for tomatoes and jalapenos -- or would be improved that way- I just use a can of Rotel. I'vve never made this with fresh tomatoes.
Also I don't bother rubbing garlic into the skin, just add to oil with minced ginger while I am browning the chicken.
Sorry to be so late in replying. I printed the recipe and haven't checked back til now.
My biggest problem is i always seem to forget to add the green pepper. Add it with the chicken when you return it to the pot.
If you have an orange or tangerine around try also adding a bit of the peel or just a very little of the juice

Dec 05, 2009
gala in Home Cooking


Oh, you are SUCH a peach!!!!!
Don't toss them. The earlier editions are way better than the later ones.
There is a recipe for baked risotto that is really handy to have and the Moroccan chicken from 2003 is one of my favorite standbys, served with their very good couscous recipe.
These I think are on line at the site.
I always use them as a blueprint and tweak . they are very basic and probably geared toward being kid-friendly.

so these were my changes
I used 6-8 mostly skinned thighs. Leave skin on one or two for the flavor, if not fatty.

I used fresh ginger and I/2 tsp curry powder or scant 1/2 tsp garam masala for the coriander and substituted a can of Rotel for the tomatoes and chilies.

I also added a bay leaf.
i am not sure why, but bay leaves are rarely used in their recipes and are always improved by using them. I added a large sliced bell pepper or sometimes a poblano browning along with the onions. I used chunky PB.
The sweet potatoes are so scrumptious in this, you'll probably want to add more .

does anyone have a fallback favorite Everyday Food Magazine recipe we should be trying ?

Nov 11, 2009
gala in Home Cooking


Just my luck to lose an early issue of Everyday Food magazine and then try to find a recipe that for some reason they have never archived on-line.
It is in the November 2003 issue . Issue Number 7

It is an absolutely terrific recipe for Chicken and Peanut Stew. It has peanut butter in it. Definitely worth putting up on line for all the rest of us, too.

Thanks if you can help me and this one is so worth making.
As with most Everyday Food recipes it is pretty basic and it's better when you add on. I think I added a sliced poblano or green pepper and a large cubed sweet potato if they are not already in there. I also made it with a can of Ro-tel. And I only used thighs.

Nov 11, 2009
gala in Home Cooking