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Chinese restaurant syndrome

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Chinese restaurant syndrome

Postby frank » Sat Nov 26, 2005 1:27 pm

Hi all,

While looking for various words for 'restaurant' in Chinese, i stumbled upon this phrase:

zhong guo can1 guan3 zheng4 hou4 qun2
中国餐馆症候群
It translates as "Chinese restaurant syndrome".

I really wonder what the heck can be meant by this... not remembering the number of your favourite dish? Allergia for goldfishes?

Could somebody help me out...

Frank
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Nov 26, 2005 2:17 pm

Frank, this is a putative medical condition brought about by eating food prepared with monosodium glutamate (a tenderising and flavour enhancing compound, known as 味精 («wēijīng» in China, 味の素 («ajinomoto» - a trademark) in Japanese. Not too many years ago it was demonstrated that humans possess receptors at the back of the tongue that can detect this flavour of this compound, known with a Japanese loan word as «umami» (甘味) or savouriness, in addition to the classical four flavours of salt, sour, sweet, and bitter....

Whether or not a «Chinese restaurant syndrome» caused by eating food prepared with this substance and characterised by shortness of breath, asthma-like symptoms, chest pains, etc, actually exists is open to question. In any event, it is hardly common (in addition to the Wikipedia link above, cf also this one)....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Apoclima » Sat Nov 26, 2005 6:16 pm

The reaction to Monosodium Glutamate can be severe. My mother ends up in the hospital. It is not uncommon, but mild reactions go diagnosed.

Yet, the FDA still refuses to recognize the immediate and long term danger to the public caused by the practice of allowing various excitotoxins to be added to the food supply, such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and aspartame. The amount of these neurotoxins added to our food has increased enormously since their first introduction. For example, since 1948 the amount of MSG added to foods has doubled every decade.


These toxins (excitotoxins) are not present in just a few foods, but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc.


How could a substance that is used normally by the brain cause harm? This is because, glutamate, as a neurotransmitter, exists in the extracellular fluid only in very, very small concentrations - no more than 8 to 12uM. When the concentration of this transmitter rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally. At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of delayed cell death known as excitotoxicity, that is, they are excited to death.


It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally are not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time.


Excitotoxins, Neurodegeneration and Neurodevelopment
by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.


Apo[/url]
'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
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Postby frank » Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:38 am

Henri, Apo,

Thanks for the very clarifying explanations!!

Frank
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:11 am

Grogie, is that you? Has Frank taken your body?

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Postby Andrew Dalby » Sun Nov 27, 2005 12:12 pm

There's a history of monosodium glutamate, by Jordan Sand, in the current issue of Gastronomica: see

www. gastronomica.org

It seems from this article that if you use Umami to mean 'the fifth flavour' (as I have done in the past) you are using a trade name -- and this is exactly what the manufacturers (Ajinomoto) now want. They used to be proud of the name monosodium glutamate, but abandoned it in the 1960s when the market began to turn against chemical additives. They then hastily re-adopted the name used by the original inventor (Ikeda Kikunae). He called the stuff Umami, which means 'tasty' in Japanese. That was the trade name that sold msg to Japanese housewives in the 1920s, and it works all the better now because in the international market umami sounds natural, ethnic and trendy.

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Postby anders » Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:10 pm

I was more curious than apprehensive when I observed the liberal quantities of
M. Henri Day wrote:味精 wēijīng
my GF (or whatever; my wife in the not too distant future according to my intentions) uses in her cooking, but never the less, I looked up MSG and found that there is a Swedish law (and 94/35/EC & 94/36/EC) limiting the amount to 10 g/kg food.

The way I feel, i.e. terrific, she must use way below that concentration.

On foodstuffs, the fact that 40% of Chinese people have low levels of alcohol dehydrogenase could have been a problem, but out of solidarity, I now just down the odd low-alcohol beer. Fortunately, I don't miss the wines and spirits too much.

And I'm back on the 'net after three full weeks of non-connection. I managed to find the problem (my ISP still hasn't reacted) before the withdrawal symptoms overpowered me. Great to be back!
Irren ist männlich
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:29 pm

It's great to have you back, Anders. (A tear trickles down BD's face).

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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:13 pm

anders wrote:...

The way I feel, i.e. terrific, she must use way below that concentration.


Who knows - on the contrary, you may feel so good, Anders, precisely because she's making those neurones dance by tweaking the ratios of the various signal substances !...

Henri
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