Flavor Tripping! The Miracle Berry

As part of the Philadelphia Science Festival I attended the Flavor Tripping event. Flavor tripping you say? Yep, the miracle fruit. You’ve heard of it.┬áSynsepalum dulcificum comes from west africa and it makes things that are sour or bitter taste sweet. I’d wanted to try this for a long time so I was super excited that there was going to be a special Tasting Menu at the Continental for trying this miracle berry.
But first, we played a bit with our taste buds. The folks at Monell Chemical Senses Center put together six vials of random tastes for us to try. It was a bit of a tease for what was about to come up next. Vial #1 was PTC, which only some people can taste. To some it tastes bitter (like me). To others it just tastes like water. So cool! Vial #2 was an amino acid that tasted kinda salty… a bit like sweat. It was representative of the umami taste. You know, the other taste, the new one. Vial #3 was sodium something or other that cats really like. In fact, they sprinkle it on cat food to make cats eat it! Vial #4 was sweet and it was actually twice as sweet as any regular can of soda. I forget the last two vials… but it was really fun!
Ok, so after the taste bud experiments, we finally went on to the berries! These are freeze dried berries from Puerto Rico. The shelf life of the berries is super short, so it’s hard to get them fresh. But warm them up in your hand and they’ll defrost right up. You do not eat the seed. And you do not just swallow the berry. You chew on the pulp and try to get the pulp all over your tongue and all over the inside of your mouth. Then you’re ready to eat!
So I expected just a couple slices of lemon, but we got a proper meal in the tasting menu. We started with a giant plate of fresh sliced fruit. They made it a point to get non-ripe fruit and out-of-season berries. It included all types of berries and citrus fruits and some balsamic vinegar. Man, I was skeptical, but these berries really do work! Everything was sweet! The lemons, the limes, all the berries… so sweet and delicious! We dipped the fruit into the balsamic and it was even extra sweet! It was so bizarre but cool. My favorite was the raspberry dipped in balsamic.
Next up was some scallop ceviche with fried plantain chips. The scallops were so amazingly tender and sweet and delicious. There were bits of sliced pepper and while those were still spicy, they were also sweet! Because all that was on the scallops was straight up lemon juice, everything tasted sweet. And even the plantain chips were sweet! I know that if it weren’t for the berry, the scallops would just have been super tart and sour.
Granny smith apple and fennel salads in radicchio cups with a sour lemon vinaigrette. Pairing up the sourest apple with lemon made it all delicious. I don’t typically like fennel, but it was good here!
Dessert was lime, lemon, grapefruit, and blood orange sections with mint yogurt and pomegranate molasses. This actually sounds pretty good, at least without maybe the lime and lemon, even on its own as a dessert. But with the berries, it was almost too sweet!
Can you tell how much I enjoyed just the lemons and limes? They were amongst my favorites. They showed just how miraculous these little berries were. They gave us some mberries to take home with us, which are commercially produced miracle fruit tablets. Yes, I will be using them at home. I already bought a bunch of lemons and limes!

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2 Responses to

Flavor Tripping! The Miracle Berry
  1. albert says:

    i like to eat lemons and limes as they are already!

  2. Foodhoe says:

    Wow! sounds bizarro fun. I love all the pix too, evrrything looks so sour

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