My Mom is actually allergic to MSG -- not horribly, hive-breaking-out allergic, but enough to make the meal unenjoyable. Because of her, we almost never ate Chinese when I was growing up on the East Coast -- even when she said "no MSG," there would be some.

Now that I live in the Bay Area, they visit me once in a while. I have come to realize that there are significantly better Chinese restaurants here than in suburban Boston. So, I took them to a great Chinese restaurant and my Mom requested "no MSG" as usual. The waiter looked at her quizzically -- "We don't use that anyway!" She didn't have any problems.

So... it doesn't have to be part of the meal.