The strangest thing I've ever eaten is a miracle fruit. Well, that's not entirely true. I should say that the strangest thing I've ever eaten is a tablet of freeze-dried miracle fruit-derived miraculin — and all the foods I tasted while under its influence.
But that just doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
Miracle fruit – which dulls your sour taste receptors – was the subject of internet buzz a couple of years ago and became very popular in the spring of 2008, thanks in large part to a story about 'taste-tripping parties' in the New York Times. More than a year later, we're wondering, is this trend alive and well? Or has it already fizzled out? How many of you tried it? And did it live up to your expectations? Miracle fruit promised to remove the sour flavor from any food or beverage for about an hour. Some even claimed that goat cheese became frosting and hot sauce tasted like "hot donut glaze."
I went in search of miracle fruit after reading the Times article, along with thousands of other people. The few fresh berry suppliers I found were predicting delays for many months, so I tracked down an online supplier of the freeze-dried tablet form in the U.K. that promised shipment in a matter of weeks. Less than two months later, a tiny packet of tablets arrived.
I invited a few guests to my taste-tripping party, and together we assembled a spread of fruit, cheeses, sauces and drinks. When it was time for the tasting to begin, we each popped a tablet onto our tongue and followed the instructions to let it dissolve there and swish it around our mouths. It took about two minutes – a very quiet two minutes. And then we dove in.
We sucked on lemons, limes and grapefruit, and nibbled on cranberries, hot peppers and green olives. We sampled bites of goat, feta and aged blue cheeses and worked our way through the sauce bar, which featured two kinds of hot sauce, pomegranate molasses, soy sauce and four varieties of vinegar: balsamic, red wine, apple cider and orange champagne muscat. In the beverage department, we had Guinness, an IPA, tequila and lemonade.
To some people, goat cheese did taste like frosting. To others, it just tasted like goat cheese. I thought the Guinness was definitely chocolate milk shake-esque, but not everyone agreed. One person described vinegar as "sugar water," but to me, it tasted just a little sweeter. Everyone agreed that lemons and limes tasted like candy, as did the cranberries. The tequila lost its edge and tasted like tequila-flavored juice – the most dangerous flavor shift, to be sure. Spicy foods and sauces, however, still tasted hot, if not tangy.
Everyone agreeed that despite a few extreme flavor shifts, the miracle fruit tablets mainly took the bite/edge/stinkiness (all words used) out of most things, allowing you to taste more complexity in the flavors, or in some cases, just a slightly different flavor.
It was a fascinating and bizarre experience, and although it left many of us with quite a stomach ache, it was ultimately a lot of fun.
Did you jump on the miracle fruit trend too?
Related: Strange Foods: Miracle Fruit