Sunday, June 15, 2008

Miracle Fruit Party!

This past Friday, I hosted a party for my fellow Baltimore food bloggers. The special guest? Miracle fruit!

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, miracle fruit is a tiny berry that, when eaten, causes sour foods to taste sweet. The berries contain a protein that is aptly named miraculin. Miraculin binds to the sweet receptors on taste buds but it doesn't trigger the taste bud. Instead, its free end binds to acids (which taste sour), at which point the sweet receptor is triggered, thereby creating the sensation of acidic foods tasting sweet. After eating miracle fruit, lemons taste like lemon candy, sour patch kids are irresistibly sweet, and raw hubarb loses its bite and becomes incredibly palatable. (You can watch a video of me giving a more in-depth description of the fruits here.)

 Miracle fruit parties were the subject of a New York Times article a few weeks ago, and my friend Meg, who is the author of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, proposed that we host our own miracle fruit party for our fellow food bloggers here in Charm City. I set out to get a hold of the berries, but it turned out that the demand for them was huge - Curtis Mozie (aka The Miracle Fruit Man), who was mentioned in the article, received over 1500 orders the same day the article was published, and therefore had a wait of at least two months. Not one to be easily deterred, I set out to find another grower, and I found one who would be able to ship fruit to me in two weeks.

On Friday morning, Meg was on WYPR's Maryland Morning and she had a chance to discuss miracle fruit and our upcoming party - listen to it here.

Later that day, a group of us gathered in my apartment to experience the taste bud altering-effect of miracle fruit. Each person was given 1 1/2 fruits over the course of almost two hours, and I set out the following for our tasting:

Top row, L to R: Basil, grapes, cherries,
rhubarb, under-ripe strawberries.
Bottom row, L to R: Blue cheese, goat cheese,
cream cheese, coconut gels,
toothpicks (no, we didn't eat them), 100% cocoa chocolate

Top row, L to R: Grapefruit, Valencia oranges,
lemons, limes, Granny Smith apples.
Bottom row, L to R: Tray, top row: Diluted balsamic vinegar,
red wine vinegar,apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar.
Tray, bottom row, all diluted:Pomegranate molasses,
tamarind paste, sriracha sauce, Angostura bitters;
sour patch kids, cocoa-coated peanuts.

Not pictured: Trio of Rick's Picks - Slices of Life (sliced dill pickles), GT 1000s (curried green tomato pickles), Mean Beans (spicy green bean pickles), supermarket tomatoes, chayote, bitter gourd, and ginger.

Drinks, which also aren't pictured: Guinness, Clipper City Loose Cannon IPA, lemon water, unsweetened iced tea, and plain old water.

Here's how things tasted to me:
  • Grapefruit - sweet and not in the slightest bit bitter or acidic
  • Lemons - super sweet, like lemon candy!
  • Limes - same as the lemons
  • Valencia oranges - sweeter than expected but not as sweet as the lemons because they're not as acidic
  • Granny Smith apples - not at all tart and very sweet
  • Vinegars - all of them tasted like they normally would except they were devoid of any acidity.
  • Pomegranate molasses were hyper-sweet
  • Tamarind was sweet and tangy but not face-contortingly tart
  • Sriracha sauce was still hot but somehow smooth
  • Angostura bitters tasted the same
  • Sour patch kids were incredibly sweet!
  • Cocoa-coated peanuts were not at all sweet - no acid in this, hence no change in taste (this was put out as a control)
  • Basil - same as above
  • Grapes - slightly sweeter than normal
  • Cherries - same as the grapes
  • Rhubarb - not at all tart and surprisingly tasty
  • Under-ripe strawberries - these tasted like the ruby-red berries I get at the farmers market despite their pallor and horrible taste in real life
  • Blue cheese - no difference. I hate blue cheese, and I hated it under the influence, too.
  • Goat cheese - slightly honey-ish
  • Cream cheese tasted like cheesecake
  • Coconut gels had no change in taste but they were pleasantly coconut-y and slightly sweet
  • 100% cocoa was incredibly bitter, as it is in real life
  • All of the pickles were sweet on the tongue but were super-acidic and pickly in the throat
  • Supermarket tomatoes tasted like summer tomatoes!
  • Chayote had no marked difference
  • Bitter gourd was still bitter
  • Ginger was mild on the tongue but fiery in the throat
  • Guinness tasted slightly chocolate-y but not like chocolate milk, as some others reported
  • IPA had a hint of guava - weird!
  • Lemon water tasted like lemonade
  • Unsweetened tea tasted sweet when I put a slice of lemon in it
Everyone seemed to react to the fruit differently - some people found most things to be very sweet (such as Erin of Black Coffee and a Donut, who is pictured below), while others could still taste a bit of acid. Also, the fruit's effect varied from between 10 - 30 minutes for most people. I've read that it can last up to an hour, but I'm pretty sure that no one had such an experience. In fact, my brother, who had a fruit after our brunch together on Sunday afternoon, only experienced the effects for about 3-4 minutes after eating the fruit. The picture above is of him cringing after eating a lemon slice. Poor guy.)

Here are what some of the other people in attendance have to say about their experience:
All in all, it was an incredibly fun experience - not only was it wild to have my sense of taste altered, but it was also interesting to see how other people reacted to their altered state. Thanks to everyone who came and made it a memorable night!


John said...

Again, thanks for the awesome party, Roopa! Even if my taste buds are mutants :)

K8teebug said...

I'm so sad to have missed it! Stupid job!

diningdish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
diningdish said...

Thank you for putting this together. I enjoyed sharing quality time with the other bloggers. It was great fun, nifty experience and now I can say - been there, done that bought the Miracle berry.

Mrs. L said...

I've never heard of the miracle fruit! Sounds like you guys had a great time testing the fruit out!

Julie said...

The rhubarb was the biggest surprise. It had a nice crunchy apple texture with a sweet rhubarb taste. And the citrus fruits were really incredible.

Great party! Thanks for hosting it.

Miracle Fruit said...

Next, you should try some recipes for sugarfree desserts and cocktails.
Personally, I prefer simple things as an Apple Strudel - it is delicious - no sugar, but perfectly sweet! Link to recipes: Miracle Fruit Sugar Free Recipes

miracle fruiter said...

hey if anyone wants to grow their own plant, i have care instructions at my miracle fruit blog.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miracle Fruit Fan said...

Wow, that sounds like a great party. Good job!

--Miracle Fruit Fan

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