First and the most important thing..Ajinomoto is not a product, it’s a brand name same as all photocopying machines known as Xerox. Product is MSG seasoning.. Monosodium Glutamate. Yes, the same MSG you found written on most of the food products as ‘no MSG added’. You may have encountered with the ajinomoto through Chinese cuisines but it’s origins are Japanese.
Kikunae Ikeda invented MSG. He proposed to pronounce it as Umami (tasty in Japanese). You won’t believe that the idea behind MSG invention was to help people eat healthy food although later it got linked with different food crisis. He had taken inspiration from a Japanese doctor Miyaki Hide claiming that flavours facilitate digestion to improve the diet of the country. Afterwards it mass-manufactured by Suzuki Chemical Company under the brand name Ajinomoto (essence of taste in Japanese). A perfect product + a perfect timing + great management skills..what could have gone wrong??Yes..nothing! The product travelled though Taiwan, China, US and other parts of the world. It’s success differed according to region. In Japan it was mostly used by housewives. In Taiwan and china used by street food stalls and restaurants and at that time food was more industrialised in US. So there it was used in frozen foods and canned foods.
The adverse physiological effects related with MSG is called as ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’. Chinese restaurants in US made regular use of Ajinomoto in their food. It was the same time that number of Americans made their visits to Chinese restaurants. Number of people experienced ill effects after eating at Chinese restaurants. That affected the popularity of ajinomoto. It went under number of crisis. But still we can find ajinomoto on shelves and in home in use thanks to ajinomoto’s developments within the science of flavour.
MSG can also be consumed through natural sources like oysters, seafood, tomato and parmesan cheese. In ancient roman civilization , traces of MSG has been found. The Romans had a fish paste called garum that they exported everywhere. They made it by filling pots with alternating layers of fish – or just fish guts – and salt and letting those pots lie out in the sun for a while. They carried it along themselves and used in their meal.
There is an interesting campaign carried out by Ajinomoto Philippines Corporation. It has established UCC(Umami culinary challenge) as the first of its kind, interschool, multi-category culinary competition that focuses on umami, the 5th basic taste alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty. UCC is growing bigger each year. “We want more aspiring chefs to discover how deep understanding of umami effectively develop their skills to attain culinary excellence.” says Chef Russell Bautista, Project Head of UCC.