February 20, 2011
number of different places. I read about it and promptly let it exit my mind. And about a week ago, as I was daydreaming, I remembered that I have been meaning to try it. I bought a box of miracle fruit tablets from the Internet, and after a week of waiting, the box arrived. I then conducted my very own taste tripping experiment. So, a brief introduction to "miracle fruit":
The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids. - NYTAlso interesting is miraculin's mysterious absence from America's consumer market. The story goes that in the 1970s the FDA reclassified the protein as a food additive as it was in its final stages of development, adding years to the approval process, bankrupting the company attempting to commercializing the product, and preventing it from reaching the mass market. Some speculate sugar industry involvement. Today, miraculin is widely used in Japan and Europe as a diet aid and sweetener. Anyway, after going to Ralph's and buying what must have appeared to other people as some strange New Age fruit salad, I came back and prepared to devour. Notes on miraculin's effects on taste: The tablet itself - It tasted like a chalky cranberry/raisin-flavored vitamin. Quickly dissolved in mouth, but the directions say to let it cover your mouth for awhile. Half a tablet was enough for me to notice extreme flavor differences for about 15 minutes, and more subtle differences for about 30 minutes after that. Lemons - I heard the most reaction from people eating lemons from the internet, so I had high expectations. These expectations were met. Very, very sweet. Like lemon pie, or lemonade, but with the strange accompaniment of freshness you can only get by eating real fruit. Grapefruit - The difficulty of extracting edible bits made it less satisfying than the others, but it was worth it for the juice. Next time, I'll buy a bottle of grapefruit juice instead. Tasted like grapefruit Kool-Aid with an extra cup of sugar. Tomatoes - I ate these right after eating the lemons, and for the first couple of bites, I did not notice a difference from eating a regular tomato. However, after drinking some water and "resetting" my palate, the tomato sweetness was revealed. Concentrated mainly in the watery pulp around the seeds, the subtle sweetness resembled a watermelon that's not quite ripe. It was fun to sample, but I don't think I could eat more than one tomato like this. Tangerine - Due to their natural sweetness, I didn't notice a difference in the tangerine I tasted that night to ripe tangerines I've had in the past. However, when I tried a tangerine from the same batch the next morning, I realized that I had been eating very new, tart tangerines. Kiwi - Bland. The tablet may have nullified any sourness, but there was no sweetness. Ironically, it was the most expensive thing on the shopping list. Strawberries - Imagine if polyploidy didn't plunder strawberries of their sweetness, but instead made them taste like those syrup-packed strawberries you put on fruit tarts. If miraculin were approved by the FDA, fresh strawberries would certainly become new the king of fruits. Salt and vinegar chips - Like the tomatoes, the subtle flavor difference was only noticeable after drinking some water. Tasted like salt and vinegar and barbecue sauce chips. Balsamic Vinegar - Tastes like Welch's grape concentrate. I could tell my digestive system was not happy after a couple of drinks of this though. Sour cream - Very similar to yogurt: sweetness was in between plain and vanilla. Very pleasant. Cheese (Jack) - It took a very sharp cheese and turned it mild. Manas Special Chicken Curry - What was originally a mildly zesty, spicy, and salty curry morphed into a much darker aroma of quietly sweet peanut sauce. Although the flavor difference was not as stark as in some of the fruits, it changed the curry entirely.