Monosodium glutamate, or E621, also commonly labeled MSG is a chemical commonly added to foods to “enhance” the taste. MSG confers this “umami” taste, in addition to the other 4 tastes. Many food companies, restaurants, etc. like to use it, as it encourages consumers to enjoy eating the food more and are more likely to purchase more of it.

Trade names of MSG include Maggi or Knorr just to quote some.

This food additive is highly controversial. Checking the Wikipedia page shows not less than 500 contributions in 20 months, as the battle rages between the food industrials and health concerned consumers. One pretends it is not harmful when others blame it from giving the “Chinese restaurant syndrome” or all type of allergic reactions. It is also blamed for obesity or food addiction. (Have you ever managed to stop eating crisps when the packet is open ? 😉

As for whether or not it is harmful, my understanding is that studies have found it to be “safe for human consumption” but just because it’s safe to consume doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy.

That is why in Brasserie Au Bon Plaisir all the stocks we use are made on the premises, exactly like your grand-mother use to do in the old times, when time didn’t count that much and chemicals were not so easily available.

We also believe there is a notable difference in taste between a soup or a sauce using a home-made stock or an industrial one.

Judge by yourself !