What’s that food?

This month’s WTF is possibly one that is in your kitchen arsenal already, or you have likely seen it on grocery store shelves. The bright yellow and red label on Maggi Seasoning tends to stand out. With the claims on its packaging that it “Improves the taste of soups, sauces, salads and vegetable dishes. A few drops are sufficient”, it is simple to know where Maggi will work in your kitchen.

Originally created in the late 1800s by a Swiss entrepreneur Juilus Maggi, a pioneer of industrial food production. He looked to improve the nutrition of workers and brought protein-rich pea and bean soup mix to market in 1884. Two years later, he created the liquid Maggi seasoning. He also introduced bouillon concentrates to many, first in capsules and then in cube form in the early 1900s.

This month’s WTF is a staple in many kitchens Photo credit: Cheryl Young/Salty

The Maggi that we are familiar with is made from a wheat gluten base, and has been compared to a dense soy sauce. Described as umami in a bottle by some, the overall flavour of this seasoning is unique. It is used often in kitchens with chefs adding a drop or two to soups, salad dressings, marinades, noodles, and more.

There are no fewer than nine different formulations of the product. Depending upon the nation that it is sold in, the ingredients change. For example, in the US, the Maggi sold there does not have monosodium glutamate, but here in Canada it does. Mexico’s Maggi is spicier (but still doesn’t have MSG), and Germany’s Maggi has a different ingredients list.

Since 1947, the Maggi company has been owned by Nestlé, with its headquarters in France.

In dozens of countries like Germany, France, the US, Canada, Mexico, India, Cameroon, much of Africa, Mauritania and parts of the Middle East, Maggi is an integral part of the local cuisine.

Our Canadian formulation includes: water, salt, wheat gluten, monosodium glutamate, sugar, powdered cellulose, acetic acid, xylose, enzyme (aminopeptidase, sugar, potassium chloride, potassium sorbate), sodium hydroxide, disodium inosinate, calcium carbonate, flavour and artificial flavour, protease, dimethylpolysiloxane formulation, lactic acid starter culture.

The salt and monosodium glutamate means that it clocks in at 1440 mg of sodium per tablespoon, but a tablespoon is highly unlikely to be a standard serving size in any kitchen!

Editor’s Note: Interestingly, as we were researching and gathering facts about Maggi in early October for our issue, CBC Radio aired a piece about Maggi and its influence around the world. I like to think that it’s time for Maggi’s place in the spotlight. Grab your bottle today (if it’s not already in your cupboard).

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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