In non tech related matters, I got a chance last week to try a quirky little food that I've had my eye on for years.
The miracle fruit (see the Wikipedia page) was discovered (by Europeans, god bless our Euro-centric culture) in 1725 when an explorer noticed native Africans chewing the berry before meals. In a nutshell, when the fruit is chewed, one's sense of taste is altered such that sour foods taste sweet!
Pretty crazy, huh? In fact, it represent such a huge change in one's sense that most people start questioning whether or not it's legal when they hear what it does. (The answer is yes, of course, it is legal.)
Reading the New York Times article on flavor-tripping parties certainly did nothing to lessen my curiosity. And, as an aside, the name "flavor tripping" certainly does nothing to lessen the questionability of the activity. So when a friend casually mentioned hearing about miracle fruit, my ears perked up and we decideed to make a little event of it.
The berries themselves don't keep very long … apparently, you have to eat them within a couple of days of being picked. Sorry, but I don't schedule my activities around fruit. So instead, we opted to try a set of packaged tablets from ThinkGeek.
The day of, we made a field trip to the local Safeway and wandered through the aisles grabbing anything that looked tasty or tart. The cashier gave us an odd glance or two as we checked out single fruits of several different types, but nothing we couldn't handle.
The tablets appear to be manufactured here in the States but are courtesy of some "pan-biotic" Taiwanese company. We put 911 on speed dial just in case.
The tablet itself must be taken by dissolving it all over your tongue. Resist the temptation to wash it down like medication … the effect is produced by binding the active compound of the berries to your taste buds, so just suck on the tablet like candy. To me, the tablet tasted chalky, sort of like a slightly sweet vitamin, but not acidic at all. You should be through it in a couple of minutes.
Then the fun begins.
Lemons – Sweet!
Limes – Also sweet.
Oranges – Awesome. Kind of like an orange without the rind.
Tabasco sauce – tasty sweet at first! The heat hits you slightly afterwards.
Sriracha hot sauce – No difference. Just spicy.
Chocolate – tastes the same.
Chocolate pudding – not much different. But I do love me some pudding.
Tomatos – Awesomely sweet. You know that whole debate about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable? Officially a fruit with miracle berries.
Strawberries – Fantastic!
Vodka – Still strong, but goes down smoother.
Guinness – Much less bitter, even slightly sweet.
Pickles – Sweet and crunchy.
Dried fruit – No difference. Except dried apples tasted kind of bland. Honestly, tho … could've just been the apples.
Peppered beef jerky – very slightly sweeter. No effect on the peppery taste.
Olives – no change.
Jamaican ginger ale – No difference.
Towards the end of our flavor trip, we ate another tomato and realized the effect was wearing off. That was about 40 minutes in. We also slowly came to the realization that we were surrounded by half eaten snacks and various fruits, all of which needed cleaning up.
I think it's worth trying a range of foods just to see for yourself, even if you kind of know they aren't going to work. Also, it should be pretty obvious from the above, but drinking alcohol is a lot easier after eating a miracle berry … so be sure to pace yourself. Then again, maybe getting a little tipsy isn't so bad.
Overall, I would sum it up as definitely worth trying, and a lot of fun all around. I'm curious to see what an overnight shipment of a berry or two will do, but I'm sure we'll get to that at some point. Do it with friends … I think a party tasting is an excellent idea and is now definitely in the cards.