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“The boss” who destroys a whole culinary culture

Tuesday, 12/20/2016 12:38
Working in culinary field, the most disappointed question is that everybody praises Vietnamese cuisine but why does Viet Nam have no Michelin stars, and why Vietnamese cuisine has not been recognized as Japanese, French, or Italian?


Michelin is a noble achievement but not a must-have. However, it can importantly make both cooks and diners to get rid of MSG and artificial seasonings.

China has very few Michelin stars

My former Hong Kong classmate became main chef of English 2-star Michelin restaurant. His name is Kai, and I used to call him “Kai-lan” as Vietnamese name of Chinese broccoli. When we were together in culinary school, I had known that his father was a famous professional Chinese chef and his mother was alcoholic expert.

I asked, “Why do you study European cuisine? Why don’t you follow your family’s career?” He signed, “You know, what Chinese call MSG or artificial seasonings?” Then he relentlessly said that Chinese had named MSG and seasoning as “the boss”. For examples, you could hear a main chef asking, “Where is the boss?” then he dropped a pinch of MSG into the dish.

Mr. “Kai-lan” said that it was hard to avoid MSG if we had eaten in China. That’s why although Chinese food is very popular to Europeans and Americans but Chinese cuisine has not made any step up.

There are still French and Italian restaurants in China, which received Michelin stars but rarely Chinese restaurants. Therefore Kai has to choose European food instead of Chinese. He’s so fed up with the way Chinese cooks have to use MSG for common diners.

Chinese noodles are so good but they have too much “the Boss” – Photo:

Short-term and Long-term harms

With who are used to MSG, their tongues are less sensitive with natural flavors while who do not use MSG will immediately reacts if tasted. Some people even get headache, frozen tongues, sore throats, nausea, raising heart beats, and stuffy that European call “Chinese restaurant symptoms”.

Long-term harms of MSG on human bodies are debatable. Some people say that MSG can really harm kidneys, heart, blood, and even cause cancers while other say there is no harm at all.

However, the harmful influences to the country is obvious since none of serious culinary experts wants to recognize a culinary culture that has been addicted to MSG and artificial seasonings – worth a Michelin star.

One important reason of eliminating artificial seasonings in culinary artwork is that food experts, who evaluate whether a restaurant worth a Michelin star or not, have to keep their tongues “clean”.

They never eat junk food. Therefore, if they taste MSG in a dish, they’ll harshly react, such as headache, nausea, or even bone-ache, just as poisoned symptoms. When the tongue does not function, there’s no way to enjoy the meal anymore, or to evaluate how good it is.

Not only harmful to the taste, “the boss” also makes all dishes as a fault copy of flavors, for examples, the sweetness of Pho’s broth somehow is alike the sweetness of vegetable soup. MSG addicted diners lose their appetite without this artificial sweetness but with other people, MSG just corrupts everything by its industrialized taste.

Using industrial chemical simply proves that the cook is too lazy to exploit natural ingredients and not confident enough in his/her cooking skills.

These 2-minutes-microwave dishes for take-out diners contain too much MSG.

Lay “the boss” right where it should be

Nowadays, MSG has been using in most of industrial food like canned food, sweets and candies, snacks, or processed food. Moreover, fast food brands also take “the boss” MSG for granted.

Saying the other countries like England, France, Italy, or even Japan do not use MSG is a naïve statement. Their lives are too busy to cook so processed food is usually their convenient choice. It means developed countries have been suffering with artificial seasoning, too. So why their culinary cultures are illuminated?

The significant difference here is where to lay “the boss” MSG, on top of kitchen shelf or in an occasionally dark corner. Japanese and Italian have been using canned food but they understand those are not standards of health. What MSG and other artificial seasoning can provide is convenience but not true cuisine.

Crabmeat soup at RyuGin restaurant, where received 3 star Michelin, without MSG or artificial seasoning.

Japanese or Italian would not concern whether they should use MSG or other seasonings simply because they have had all natural and healthy products. They rather use sea salt, sugar, and fermented products as cheese to taste.

In similarity, a French chef would boil bones, vegetables, and dried seafood to make broth, and numerous spices to enrich their dishes.

A gourmet would differentiate which broth was made from beef bones and which was made from chicken bones. He could tell the final taste from given ingredients, and if he were passionate enough, he would have a chance to look into creative minds of the cooks and discover their skillful techniques.

“The Boss” MSG should hide in industrial food or processed food on supermarket shells. It should not be in household kitchen or a classy restaurant with elite cuisine, which can represent a national culinary culture.

A true cuisine must be where chefs cook with passion and enthusiasm. A true chef must use up their skills and mind to create dainty dishes and must not depend on synthetic chemicals.

Once there was a European chef told me that he had travelled to China to learn Chinese cuisine but all he could see were artificial seasonings with all-you-can-think-of flavors. So disappointed, he had moved to Viet Nam to learn our cuisine. Couldn’t say how embarrassed I was when most Vietnamese also have been using those bossy artificial powders.

By  Pha Le/ Tuoitrecuoituan

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