Sunday, August 2, 2009


M.S.G. The locals love it. It is in almost every packaged savoury food, and when added to a bowl of boiled rice with chilli and a few shallots it makes a meal. Add it to my food and I want to puke. They use it liberally, by the spoon full. Not a pinch, a tablespoon. So when our Aussie neighbour, Long John, asks us to join him for dinner at the warong, I am not leaping with the thought of gourmet vegetarian, but rather the dread of boiled cabbage and ajinomoto. However, our fridge is bare and we are feeling slack, so we accept the invitation. It is not a case of turn up and choose off the menu, for there isn’t one. John “booked” us in a day ahead with our preferences - what we get will be a surprise. We are the only customers, and while John receives half a chicken smothered in sweet and sour sauce to accompany his rice, we are poisoned with boiled cabbage and carrot, glistening with oil and singing with MSG. A hard way to get out of the dishes.

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