Friday, October 23, 2009

"British gravy needs MSG," says Royal Society

According to the Daily Mail, scientists in the Royal Society of Chemistry have determined that Brits are making gravy the wrong way.

The Society says that Britain should proudly reclaim her traditional Victorian-era gravy recipes, but with one improvement: soy sauce. As royal chemist Dr John Emsley explains, soy sauce contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which unleashes a meaty umami taste.
Good gravy!

gravy granules: boxed, brown, British

According to the Mail, Emsley is something of a cooking science expert, having discovered the "perfect recipe for Yorkshire pudding" last year. He believes that British subjects should stop dumping gravy granules into their pot roasts.

What are gravy granules? Apparently, they're a kind of instant gravy that un-aspiring cooks drop into boiling water. One brand, Bisto, has 79% of the market share. Here is the ingredients list for Bisto Beef Gravy Granules:
Potato Starch, Maltodextrin, Vegetable Oil, Salt, Colour (E150c), Flavourings (contain Celery, Soya, Wheat), Wheatflour, Flavour Enhancers (E621, E635), Emulsifier (E322) (Soya), Spice & Herb Extracts, Onion Extract.
Two interesting points. First, this "beef gravy" is completely vegetarian. Second, the "beefyness" of this packaged gravy is almost certainly due to MSG. In the EU, our friend MSG is called E621. What's E635, you might ask? Nothing but MSG's synergistic partners, disodium 5'-ribonucleotides DSI and GMP.

No wonder these granules have overtaken grandma's recipes—they're powered by savory free glutamate! The Royal Society wants to level the playing field by arming grandma with the granule's secret weapon: MSG.

Using the umami of soy sauce, tasty and proud British gravy can be restored. According to the Mail, gravy was invented by patriots rebelling against the French-infested upper class and their insidious stock-based preparations. Boo, France! Thus, the only truly British gravy is derived from cooked meat juices. Cue Rule, Britannia!

Here are ingredients for Royal Society of Chemistry gravy:
The juices from a joint roast of meat (preferably beef), flour, vegetable water (cabbage), iodized salt, teaspoon of dark soy sauce, pepper.
Sounds MSGlicious, and much better than brown granules.

I applaud the the Royal Society's message, but surely they could find something more patriotic than soy sauce? How about gravy and Marmite—Britain's own savory condiment?

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