A Maggi-cal Sauce, Beloved Around the World
If there’s one food item that could knit together all the immigrant communities of New York City, it would have to be Maggi, the ubiquitous seasoning sauce that’s fundamental to cuisines around the world. Aurora Almendral, a reporting fellow with Feet in 2 Worlds, explains:
You’ll need it if you want to cook West African joloff rice or Austrian fritatenzuppen. It’s sold in liter-sized bottles in China and Poland, and it’s just as familiar on German tables as it is on Filipino ones. The Vietnamese sprinkle it on their bahn mí and the Mexicans in their jugo de res.
Maggi seasoning, one of the world’s first industrially-produced foods, has found its way into some of the most classic recipes of far-flung, otherwise unrelated cuisines.
Officially, the sauce was invented in 1886 by Julius Maggi in Switzerland, but that doesn’t matter to the immigrants I interviewed. For them it’s the taste of home.
In the podcast above, Almendral investigates the worldwide appeal of this MSG-based sauce. Feet in 2 Worlds offers recipes for Nigerian yam porridge, Filipino poached shrimp, and a dish that Almendral herself named after a street she lived on in Madrid, Calle Sombrerete Chicken.
And then there’s this 1912 advertisement, featuring a dancing, multiplying Maggi bottle: