Monday, September 21, 2009

Miracle Fruit

Monday, September 21, 2009
We went to the National Film Board this past Sunday to partake in a Miracle Fruit foodiemeet, organized by Andrea Chiu (@TOfoodie) and Suresh Doss (@spotlightcity). We saw a couple of familiar faces Jess Bennett (@jessbennett) and Nina Popovic (@popNina ), and were looking forward to finally finding out what this Miracle Fruit was all about.

We cleansed our palates with some Cave Spring Chenin Blanc, sparkling white, and couldn't wait to get started.

Miracle Fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum), a.k.a. Miracle Berry is native to Ghana in West Africa. It was first documented in 1725 when explorers noticed the locals eating the berries before meals. Miracle Fruit contains a glycoprotein called Miraculin, that binds to taste receptors on the tounge and is activated by the presence of acids.

We were presented with thawed out berries, as the freezing prevents the Miraculin from degrading after the berries have been picked. We were instructed to place the berries in our mouthes for a couple of minutes scraping the flesh off the big seed in the middle of the berry without eating the seed. The berry's effects should last 30-45 minutes, so we started testing various foods and drinks.

The Miracle Fruit tasted and looked a bit like cranberries. For something that's supposed to shield us from sour tastes, it oddly enough tasted sour. However as we continued to roll the berries in our mouths the the sour taste began to dissipate, and we were left with a sensation akin to eating a lychee. That done, we rid ourselves of the seeds and started trying out sour foods starting with wedges of grapefruit and lemons.

The first bite into the lemon was a thrilling feeling. We could not taste a hint of sourness, yet our mouths watered and puckered-up. That was really weird! There was a sensational void, like stepping out of a noisy club into an empty alley... white noise for your tounge. It tasted like a sweet refreshing lemonade. The bite into the grapefruit was even more heavenly. That was the best citrus taste you'll ever have, I kid you not! The grapefruit was sweet, and had flavours exposed that were normally overshadowed by its sourness.

Next up was the real test: Shots of vinegar.

Gah! I let out a small cough as the white vinegar seared the back of my throat and crawled down like a gulp of bathtub moonshine. I'll get the hang of this yet. I found out that it's better sipped like a fine whiskey. That actually tasted good, sans the alcohol vapour. An even better swig was the apple cider vinegar. If the white was vodka, the cider was a single malt. Something tells me we'll pay for this later. Who drinks vinegar? Isn't it a household cleaner?
I thought we better start putting some solids into our stomachs to mop up all the acidic swill. We grabbed some chips and started munching. "Hmmm, tastes like regular chips. Wouldn't it be cool if they served us vinegar flavoured chips?," I mused. It turns out they were Miss Vickie's Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar chips. Ah silly me. Like I'd taste vinegar at that moment. There was also a BBQ flavoured chip, but that tasted quite normal.

We then had some vegetable cocktail to wash the chips down. That was quite nice and went down easily. Tomato juice seem to react well to Miracle Fruit.

I wonder what stout would taste like? We tried some Guinness... and voila... Guinness Lite. We couldn't believe that it would make one of the heaviest beers light and refreshing. Strange indeed. It was smooth and thirst quenching like an iced cafe Americano.

Better yet, how about some Rickard's Honey Brown. The ladies loved that one. It tasted caramelly, as if Skor made a soda.

Oh we missed the lime. Why not some of that, chased by a kiwi? That sounds odd, but it's an odd food event. The lime cut right through. Wow that didn't work. Maybe a little? The miracle fruit definietly reacted better to the other citrus fruits, not to mention the vinegar. The kiwi tasted like kiwi, but maybe a little sweeter.

And a pickle? Pickly... is that a word? Just a little saltier and blander, but not much different from a normal pickle.

Let's go Tabasco! What, slurping Tabasco after shots of vinegar?... not good. OK that wasn't any less hot! I love Tabasco. I drench my pizza in it all the time, but strip the sour from it and it's all burn. Where's that Rickard's? Lineup... let's just squeeze some lemons into a cup of water... mmm lemonade.

Haute cuisine plating below: before I tried the Tabasco again, but this time on goat cheese and a cracker. Not an advisable combination, but it was suggested to us as an experiment. The cheese extinguished the heat, but it didn't taste so good. The goat cheese alone on a cracker however was rich, creamy, and delectable.

My hors d'oeuvre creation below: Yummmmy!

The grape tomatoes tasted good, but they weren't that acidic to begin with.

The Miracle Fruit was wearing off. Might as well, we were getting full. There were a lot of items to try. It's intriguing how different foods react to Miracle Fruit. It neutralized most sour notes, except for the lime, and seemed to heighten, or at least uncover the sweetness hidden in many foods. It is indeed a miracle.


Jon Ketchum said...

This looks like it was a fun event. Did you get to compare and contrast with Miracle Frooties, the dried Miracle Fruit tablets? We're planning to use them for a fundraiser and would love to hear from someone that has tried them in place of the fresh fruit.

Tasting Toronto said...

It was lots of fun. We didn't try tablets, only the frozen fruit. It's still a novelty here in Toronto. Maybe someone will distribute it like the black garlic coming to groceries soon. Miracle Frooties, that's a good one.

Kasia said...

That looks like so much fun!

John Ketchum said...

What's Black Garlic? I havent heard about that?

Tasting Toronto said...

Hi Kasia,

It was tons of fun!... like a kid discovering candy for the first time.

Tasting Toronto said...

Hi John,
Black Garlic, was originally a product of Korea. It's fermented garlic with a jelly like consistency that tastes somewhat sweet and with no garlic odour. Check our previous month's post on it or

John Ketchum said...

Thanks Tasting Toronto - very cool. Our Miracle Frooties arrived and they're awesome. We got them from Thanks for the info on the black garlic. Have you heard of Szechuan buttons yet? They're next on my list to try to get my hands on. I guess they're like licking a 9 volt battery!

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