The lady dropped a large dollop of lemon sorbet into a glass of Guinness, stirred, drank and proclaimed that it tasted like a “chocolate shake.”
A few years ago, we heard about the miracle berry, a cranberry-like fruit discovered in West Africa that tricks your mind into thinking sour and bitter foods are sweet. The berries emerged in the U.S. as a novelty, marketed on sites such as ThinkGeek with lines including, "Warp your taste buds" and "Fun for tasting parties." My sucker husband bought a pack, and lo and behold, they do work! Pop in a berry, and lemons taste like oranges. Tomatoes taste like really, really sweet tomatoes. It's freakin' weird.
But can these miracle berries serve a purpose beyond a cool house-party trick?Chef Homaro Cantu thinks so. At last week's TED conference in Long Beach, he told an audience that he believed the berries could help feed people in famine-stricken regions by transforming what would normally be inedible ingredients, such as wild and bitter grasses, into palatable food, Wired reports. For his own two daughters, Cantu makes a faux maple syrup (a concoction of corn starch, water, lemon juice and the miracle berry) and a faux soda (carbonated water, lemon juice and the berry). So sneaky.
Critics, however, say this hunger-ending method is cost-prohibitive, as it originally took three berries to produce one tablet. Today, though, one berry can make 16 tablets, and Cantu says they're also experimenting with miraculin--the plant protein that binds to the sour and bitter receptors in the mouth, preventing these flavors from being tasted--in powder and an inhalable form. The berry may also have possible health benefits, serving as a natural sweetener for diabetics and eliminating the metallic flavor chemotherapy patients taste in food.
The best way to encounter the fruit is in a group. “You need other people to benchmark the experience,” A friend said. At his first taste party, a small gathering at his apartment in January, guests murmured with delight as they tasted citrus wedges and goat cheese. Then things got trippy.
“You kept hearing ‘oh, oh, oh,’ ” he said, and then the guests became “literally like wild animals, tearing apart everything on the table.”
“It was like no holds barred in terms of what people would try to eat, so they opened my fridge and started downing Tabasco and maple syrup,” he said.
The fruits are available by special order from specialty suppliers
Be warned however the taste distortion can be quite long lasting and effects all tastes differently so that nothing tastes quite the same as usual until the effect wears of and that can be a few hours