No MSG: America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Chinese Food


A Binghamton University Professor is sharing his insight into our country’s complicated relationship with a very popular cuisine.

“No MSG: America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Chinese Food” was the topic of a presentation given by Associate Professor of Asian American Studies Robert Ku at a meeting of the BU Forum last week.

Ku says that while Chinese food is as American as apple pie, it’s often seen as exotic and, as a result, is the victim of a number of urban myths.

For example, Ku says fears over the use of the food additive MSG are overblown.

He says MSG is in a lot of other foods and that it’s not nearly as bad for people as it has been made out to be.

Ku also dispels any notion that so-called “mystery meat” such as cat or dog has ever been used in American Chinese restaurants.

He says these myths are related to the larger issue of prejudice against Asian-Americans.

Despite the misconceptions and concern, Ku says Americans continue to patronize Chinese restaurants.

He says there are more of them in the country than all McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger Kings combines.

Ku is also the author of “Dubious Gastronomy, The Politics of Eating Asian in the USA.”

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