I was given a pack of freeze dried Miracle Fruit tablets for my birthday and finally cracked them open on Saturday for my first (annual, bi-annual?) Miracle Fruit Party. A small group of friends got together to “flavor-trip” on this amazing berry.
For those of you who have never heard of Miracle Fruit … it is a West African berry that binds to the tongue’s taste buds, rewiring the way the palate perceives sour flavors for about an hour or so. Lemons will taste as sweet as candy. Flavor-tripping parties were popularized by an article in the New York Times in 2008 and here in Houston parties are put together by the “Berry Fairy” – aka Jenny Wang.
Miracle Fruit can be purchased as whole berries (they look quite a bit like the thousands of coffee beans I picked on a farm in Kona), but once picked they are only effective for 2 -3 days afterwards. This makes the whole berry expensive and tough to get your hands on. Enter freeze dried tablets. The perfect solution! You can order them online (thinkgeek.com or amazon.com) for around $15.00/ten tablets. I’ve had that pack since April so they obviously have a better shelf life.
In preparation for the party I re-read the New York Times article plus a multitude of blogs devoted to flavor-tripping parties to get an idea of what foods to try with the berries.
Strawberries, Sweet Yellow Tomatoes, Baby Carrots, Blackberries, Cherry Tomatoes, Red & Green Bell Peppers, Kiwi, Limes, Lemons, Dill Pickles, Mixed Olives, Dave’s Smoked Jalapenos, Spicy Tabasco Pickles, Bananas, Honeycrisp Apples …
Miracle Fruit Cupcakes, Apple Cider Vinegar, Raspberry Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Sriracha, Ketchup, Chicago Fire Mustard, Tabasco, Cheap Tequila, Malt Vinegar Potato Chips, Salt & Vinegar Pirate’s Booty, Cottage Cheese, Milk, Coffee, Sour Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Tamarindo Candy, Brownies, Wasabi Peas, Wasabi Soy Almonds …
We also had a keg of St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower, many different IPA’s, Guinness, Double Chocolate Stout and just about anything else we could get our hands on.
After allowing the tablets to dissolve in our mouths and coat our tongues I waited a moment to allow the miraculin to take effect. I then reached for my drink – fresh grapefruit juice mixed with vodka. The sour and tart flavors from the grapefruit were gone and my drink now tasted just as I expected. Crazy sweet grapefruit minus the sourness.
I was so damn excited to try everything else that I felt a little manic. Some things had changed immensely – lemons and limes were super-sweet and so much fun to eat (one friend said they tasted like Willy Wonka made them); blackberries became my favorite fruit on the planet; Malt Vinegar Chips tasted like sugar-coated malt vinegar potatoes; Double Chocolate Stout tasted like a chocolate milkshake. Other foods only changed slightly – tomatoes became a little sweeter; baby carrots somehow lost their flavor; bananas tasted pretty much like your typical banana. And most of the things that were already sweet changed for the worse – tamarindo candies were sickening-sweet; coconut cookies were inedible and tasted like fake coconut or almond oil. The apples were probably the most surprising change. I don’t know what the hell happened, but the flavor was so incredibly wrong that I had to spit it out.
I couldn’t stop squirting Sriracha into my mouth (or Lucas’):
And we all had a mini shot of tabasco … oddly sweet to the tongue, but scorching hot to the throat.
These strawberries tasted like they were coated with sugar.
I can’t wait to try this again! It is such a different experience and watching everyone react to the crazy flavors was almost as fun as flavor-tripping itself. I’ll let you know if I have any flashbacks.