Have you ever wondered what it would be like if there were no bitter or sour and the world tasted sweet like candy? If you have, there is an answer to your prayers, and it’s called the Miracle Berry.
Having had the privilege of hosting two prior 24, 24, 24 events, I decided to do something a little different for this month's Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event. Miracle Berries are a relatively recent discovery for me and I clearly remember my first time. From the initial shock of the dazzling sweetness of a wedge of lemon, to the uncontrollable urge to raid the pantry and fridge of everything with the slightest hint of tartness; it was a mind bending experience. A small miracle that I wanted to share with friends, so I was very excited to learn that my proposal was accepted by Foodbuzz.
Miracle Berries are a West African fruit with the unusual property of making sour and bitter foods taste sweet. It's unknown exactly how the process works, but an active glycoprotein binds to bitter and sour taste receptors on your tongue, temporarily disabling them. This allows you to taste food in a completely different way. Lemons taste like lemonaid, blackberries taste like candy, and Guinness tastes like chocolate milk.
Because the actual berries are extremely perishable, there are a few companies freeze-drying the fruit with some cornstarch and pressing them into tablets, which makes them available to anyone with an Internet connection. After ordering them through eBay for about eleven bucks a pack, this dealer got two packs out to me in 3 days.
Since the miraculin acts on your taste buds, you have to chew up the tablets into a paste and coat your tongue with it for a minute. For most people 1/2 a tablet seemed to be about the right amount, but for others it took 2 tablets before they noticed any change. We also had one guest for whom it didn't work at all.
While it effects anything that tastes sour or bitter (dill pickles and IPA were two of the more unusual things to taste sweet), it obviously tastes best with fruit. We had the bar stocked with red wine, white wine, Guinness, Boddingtons, Zyr Vodka, cachaça, Meyer lemons and limes, but no simple syrup. While the Meyer Lemon Drops and Caipirinhas would have tasted unpalatabley sour to most people, the tablets made them perfectly sweetened, sugar-free cocktails.
Gem-like blood oranges taste and look fantastic in cocktails, but they are a little too bitter and sour for most people to eat straight. Ripe pineapple is sweet, but it can taste too acidic for some people.
It just feels wrong to sprinkle sugar on fruit, but there are some fruits that just don't taste sweet enough for me, even at their peak ripeness. Kumquats (top left), Granny Smith Apples (top right) and Blackberries (bottom left) are just three examples of such fruits and I inevitably end up turning them into a jam, pie or some kind of savoury dish. Grape Tomatoes (bottom right) while pretty sweet, can't quite pass as the fruit that they are without the help of some sugar. But one dose of Miracle Fruit is all it takes to make these taste like fresh little candies.
Red bell peppers and carrot sticks no longer need to be relegated to a veggie platter. Under the influence, these could almost pass as a healthy refreshing dessert.
Capricho de Cabra and Drunken Goat Cheese were my choice for the cheese tray since goat cheeses tend to be on the tart side. The Capricho de Cabra came close to tasting like a funky cream cheese frosting while the Drunken Goat ended up tasting like Stilton.
Out-of-season strawberries and blackberries sent some people on a heavenly trip.
For some people the berries brought out their inner rockstar.
For others, it didn't work at all.
But everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and even non-partakers got into the act.
While there's still enough beer to fuel a college size kegger, the munchies took over and the fruit was swiftly cleaned out.
Thanks to all who attended for making this a fun and memorable event. Special thanks go out to Foodbuzz for sponsoring and to fellow food bloggers, Stacey from Stacey Snacks, Claire from Colloquial Cooking and Stéphane from Chefs Gone Wild for attending.