MSG Allergies

Last night I was with a friend at a Chinese food restaurant on our way to a wine bar. I stopped in at a place I’ve been going since I was in my twenties and the maitre d’hotel is still the same Chinese smiling face. Greeted at the door we sat down and ordered a few dishes, just a quick pit stop.

Prior to ordering my friend (Japanese) took five minutes and explained to the restaurant staff about his allergy to MSG, and at one point I was laughing because he kept going on and on. I told him after 5 minutes that they will poison us. We both laughed it off and when the dishes arrived there maitre d’ hotel comes over and took his fingers pointing at one dish and said, just a little MSG, and so my friend passed it over.


After enjoying this beef dish I felt fine and after 15 minutes I started to become red-hot and felt sick. I excused myself and just felt as if I had been poisoned.

What caught my attention was the burning of the lips and my mouth. I knew something was wrong and headed home to take an antihistamine. That helped a little although I had itchy palms throughout the night.

This was something I would have never thought was possible but it was and is and isn’t a myth at all. The other factor that could have contributed was the Zha cai, a pickled vegetable that is eaten alone. Either way be cautious about the use of MSG when visiting any restaurant in Asia and read this: