My sister-in-law sent a link to this NYT video on “flavor tripping parties”, where you eat a bunch of normally very sour things but taste them as sweet. How? You first suck on a miracle berry for about a minute; a natural ingredient in the miracle berry temporarily alters your taste buds to perceive sour as sweet.
I was fascinated and bought 30 berries (the minimum) at $3 a pop from Miracle Fruit Man in Florida. I got my berries less than 2 weeks later (not bad, considering the flood of orders that must have come in around that time).
At home, my boyfriend and I split one berry and each sucked on our half for a minute or two. (We want to save the rest for a flavor-tripping party) It’s very little flesh, which is lychee-like, around a very big seed, and it doesn’t have much of a flavor on its own. Then we started trying some sour stuff:
- Vinegar. Remarkable. It tasted like a sweet liquid (like simple syrup, or a thin boysenberry syrup) right on the tongue, but the moment it hit your throat – ACID. Same with the lips – BURN. The key is dripping it right on the tongue, where it doesn’t burn and where it tastes sweet and surprisingly mild.
- Injeera bread. We had some of this Ethiopian fermented bread that we had bought this past weekend. Normally it’s a sour pancakelike bread. Now it was mildly sweet. Like a drier version of an American pancake, although still “yeasty”/malty in a way.
- Maple syrup. We tried something intensely sweet as a control. It tasted pretty much the same as before, maybe a touch less sweet than normal.
- Sauerkraut. Tasted like sauerkraut packed in light syrup; the only sourness was picked up by the nose and throat.
At this point, we ran off to the local market because we heard its effects lasted 1/2 hr to 2 hrs. We picked up a juicy lemon, some Tabasco and some Guinness.
- Guinness. No difference at all. We had heard it tastes like a chocolate shake. It didn’t to us. It tasted like Guinness.
- Tabasco. Wow. I dropped it on my tongue. I dropped a lot on my tongue…because it didn’t register as anything except mildly sweet liquid (like vinegar). About 15 seconds later my tongue was on fire.
- Lemon. This was the true test, the most stark change. We got a big juicy lemon, the kind that would make you wince if you bit into it. The lemon tasted like the sweetest, strongest lemonade you’ve ever had. We literally tore through it, eating it like an orange. Not for a second did it taste sour or too strong.
- Avocado. My boyfriend tried some avocado. It continued to taste like avocado.
So, the miracle fruit, at least in our experience, just reverses the sensation of sour (to sweet)–the sourer the taste, the sweeter it becomes. It has no effect on foods that are not sweet. You’ll enjoy the experience most with lemons, which become intensely sweet.
For the flavor-tripping party, I’ll have lemons, limes, maybe some grapefruit (although the chief taste with them is bitterness), and different types of vinegar. Other less-sour foods won’t register the same sort of impact.
And just to let you know: the lemon was sour. My teeth had that acid-damaged grittiness you have when you chew on a lemon. I tried a bit a few hours later and it was bitingly sour again, with no hint of sweetness.
Totally worth it for the experience. My stomach was wincing a little bit, though, from ingesting all that acid; it can’t be fooled.