Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is a foodie fad that might be of interest to people who like science, and also food, and maybe also weird things in general. The plant produces a berry that when eaten, binds to one’s taste buds and causes sour things to taste sweet. People are eating these berries en masse at trendy, expensive parties . Because I like food (and bandwagons, apparently), I picked up some miracle fruit tablets and tried it this past weekend. I have more tablets left and will probably try it again with friends, since I forgot some of the commonly suggested things-that-become delicious, like goat cheese.
Here is what we tried (please forgive the crappy photo, since my camera was recently repaired and I forgot to fix the settings before taking this shot):
Clockwise, from the bottom left, that includes:
- Gueze Girardin
- Red wine vinegar
- Oranges (pictured, but we didn’t actually try them)
- Plum vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Pomegranate seeds
All in all, a pretty healthy lunch, right? We started off with a few sips of the beer. It was so sour, my mouth puckered immediately. I’m normally a huge fan of sour beers, but this was, to my palate, so sour as to be almost undrinkable. Then we popped a berry onto our tongues, let it dissolve and swirled it around, and took another sip. The difference was astonishing, and immediately assuaged all of my many, many doubts. Instead of puckering my entire face, the beer tasted sweet and rich, with a lot of fruity complexity. It was absolutely delicious.
I popped a strawberry in my mouth and nearly spit it out. It tasted like it had been soaking in sugar syrup. Maybe some people would find that appealing, but it was too sweet for me. Under-ripe, greenish strawberries ended up tasting like perfectly ripe, sweet strawberries.
Cutting in to the citrus fruit was a real treat. While a lot of other things, like the strawberries and pomegranate, tasted cloyingly sweet and sugary, the citrus fruits retained some of their natural sourness, but were sweet enough to eat. Grapefruit tasted like grapefruit candy, but with a fresh, clean, juicy grapefruit texture. Lemons and limes tasted like lemonade and limeade.
An hour later, when we returned to tasting after a short break and were unsure if the effects had worn off, I stuck a slice of lime in my mouth… and promptly spit it out. The difference was so striking between the sweet, juicy fruit I’d just eaten and, well, a regular lime. It was almost impossible to believe it came from the same piece of fruit.
Vinegars were a bit of a bust. I’d read elsewhere that they tasted like apple juice, or sweet wines, but to me they still tasted just like vinegar. For next time, my boyfriend wants to make sour cocktails that would only be drinkable after eating miracle fruit. I’d like to try goat cheese, maybe make a goat cheese and strawberry tart and try it before and after eating the miracle fruit. This was a bizarre experience, but I can safely say my skepticism has been dispelled. If you’ve tried it, share your experiences in the comments.