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The Sixth Dimension of Taste

29 April 2009 1,064 views 19 Comments

Two nights ago I drank vinegar like it was soda, sucked lemons like lollipops, and gnawed on raw rhubarb. I voluntarily drank plain hot sauce and couldn’t get enough of normally bitter blackberries. Was this a dream? Have my taste buds gone dormant? Was I on drugs?

lemonNo. What I was on is referred to by many as a food trip, a journey made possible by a small, red, berry called Miracle Fruit, or Synsepalum dulcificum.

Thanks to a donation of 20 frozen Miracle Fruit berries from a company called Miracle Fruit Man, I was able to invite a group of curious food lovers to Adam’s house for a tasting party.

The photo below is courtesy of Relish Austin:

foodtrippingpartyPlaying a role similar to Willy Wonka, I dropped the tiny frozen berries into the mouths of my guests, instructing them to roll it around for a minute, scrape the pulp off the seed, and spit out the seed when done.

A natural protein called miraculin binds to the tongue and causes an effect that lasts about a half hour. When combined with acid, the sugar molecules press into the sweet receptors and foods that are normally acidic and sour become sweet.

Food Tripping 005The berry was first documented by an European explorer during a 1725 excursion to West Africa. He watched the local tribes pick the berry from shrubs and chew on it before meals.

In the 21st Century, the spread we laid out was definitely the most unique I’ve ever seen. We pulled the suggested foods from a list laid out by The Miracle Man for food tripping parties. This included:

Goat Cheese – Tasted like cheese cake
Rhubarb – Tasted like apples
Guinness with lemon juice – Tasted like flat soda
Roasted Brussels sprouts – No change to me. I enjoy them though.
Salt & Vinegar Chips – Tasted like plain chips
Oranges and grapefruit – Like candy

Unsweetened chocolate – like earth
Broccoli with lemon juice – delicious
Lemon Wedges – Amazing!
Straight Vinegar – Like fruit soda
Pineapple/Grapes/Blackberries – Sweet and addictive
Granny Smith Apples – These still tasted tart to me -
- maybe the berry was wearing off?
Hot Sauce – sweet and hot
Jalapeno and Lemon potato chips – great

vinegarSome “treats” I didn’t get to try include: ketchup, currants, tonic water, garlic cloves, natural yogurt, olives, lettuce, tomato, radish, homemade mustard, sour cream, salads with lemon juice.

Faves: Vinegar, lemons, goat cheese.

So I came down with a pretty bad tummy ache yesterday as a result of eating all of these strange and acidic foods together. I actually have two berries left and would be happy to share with a couple readers if anyone is brave and curious enough to give food tripping a try.

Check out Addie Broyles blog and the slide show below (only shows on the web) for more!

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  • Optimista

    These fascinate me…thanks for the great write-up! I would love to try your leftover berries if they need a good home with a very curious food lover. :)

    mcheng@austintriallaw.com; http://foodieisthenewforty.com

  • double tonic

    You didn’t try my ketchup? After all the time and effort … :-)

    I didn’t try most of those things, either. Just so many options!

    Thanks again for hosting such a fun and unusual evening.

  • Lisa

    OK, please invite me next time you do one of these! I want to be a guinea pig :)

  • huebscher

    seriously, sounds fun until the heartburn sets in.

  • James

    An old high school buddy and I tried this last year- I HAVE NEVER EATEN A GRAPEFRUIT SO QUICKLY IN ALL MY LIFE :D

  • Anonymous

    I told my dad about our little experiment and he looked surprised. He said that in his younger days he was wandering through the mountains of Hawaii and stumbled upon a farmer who offered him some red berries. He ate them and then the farmer offered him some lemons and cranberries and they were sweet! All his friends back home laughed at his story. No one believed him. Now it’s clear, he was obviously eating miracle berries. But, I don’t blame his friends either – my dad also says that he’s danced in a rainbow. Sunsets and waterfalls :)

  • David

    Haha, those sound crazy! Looks like a lot of fun. After reading list of foods you tried i was thinking a stomach ache would be involved, sounds like it was worth it though.

  • beco8924

    That is crazy! It’s funny that you can go through your life and think that you have this planet all figured out and then you learn about something like this… I’m just glad to know that there are still new things to discover!

  • lisaiscooking

    Sounds like fun. Just heard you on KGSR–also sounded like fun!

  • Lindsay

    Thanks so much for hosting Jodi- this was a blast! I really enjoyed the arugula as well, so sweet! I agree that I won’t be doing this all the time, but it might be fun to do again :)

  • Betsy

    Jodi, you make a great Willy Wonka impersonator. Sorry to have missed this magical, mystical tastebud-altering event. Would love to try any leftover berries if they’re still available?

  • Jodi

    Thanks for all of the comments you guys. Being a blogger I consider comments the best way to feel rewarded for doing what I love. Unfortunately, I gave my last two berries to Bryan Beck and Andy Langer on KGSR this morning. Hopefully I can get an mp3 file to share with you soon!

  • Christian

    I can’t believe something like this exists. Sooooo awesome, sounds like fun!

  • Ironjack

    That is the coolest thing I’ve read in some time. I’m gonna have to get me some of those berries. hmm. I wonder what haggis would taste like.

  • Jami

    That’s crazy! I’ve never heard of this berry before. What a fun party idea. Keep the great posts coming!

  • Jetté

    Um, where was my invite? ; )

  • Jodi

    I wish I could have invited the entire Tasty Touring group but I only had 20 berries! I’ll be sending out an invite for another fun Touring event soon :-)

  • Justin Hyman

    My uncle grows those berries. Who made the first oral sex joke?

  • Jodi

    No one made an oral sex joke (at least not to me)!