April 20, 2015
Then, just last week, I received a nice little thank-you note from Neil's team. Along with the note were the following items:
1) An article entitled “A Party To Remember“…
2) A small packet of “Miracle Fruit Tablets” that looked like this:
Now I'd occasionally heard of substances that somehow change the flavor of foods, as well as herbs and compounds that drastically affect your taste sensations, such as Gymnema sylvestre (which my guest Nora Gedgaudas mentioned in the podcast episode “How To Stop Carbohydrate Cravings In Their Tracks“). I've also seen anecdotes about how those foods could be used for goals such as appetite control, carbohydrate or sugar cravings, or adherence to a diet, but had never actually tried anything like this before.
So I figured: what the heck? Why not throw one of these famed “Miracle Berry Parties“?
That night, my wife and twin boys arranged a random assortment of bitter, sour and relatively non-sweet foods on our kitchen table, including some very old and heavily fermented kombucha, lemons, limes, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, a grapefruit, goat cheese, and some plain yogurt. Because this was a kid-friendly party, we eliminated a few of Neil's other suggestions, such as tequila, Corona, and Guinness beer.
Of course, normally this would be a meal that a poor bachelor might assemble from leftovers in the refrigerator, or a range of foods that a dieter would use when trying to avoid blood sugar spikes or excessive calorie intake…
…but for us, it was a Miracle Berry party.
Step 1 was to consume our miracle berries, which were in this case “mBerry Miracle Fruit Tablets“. We rolled them around on our tongues, trying to cover every possible piece of taste bud real estate, and as this Instagram post reflects, it did indeed appear as though we were dropping acid.
Next, we began the party.
In just a moment, via a quick video, you'll get to witness the shocking taste sensations that ensued, but first, for you science-minded out there – what exactly is a miracle berry?
Synsepalum dulcificum, also known as the miracle fruit or miracle berry is a plant originally from West Africa that contains a berry which when eaten, causes sour foods to taste sweet. This effect is due to a glycoprotein molecule, with some carbohydrate chains attached to it, called “miraculin”, and miraculin is actually used commercially in some foods as a sugar substitute. Other names for the miracle fruit or miracle berry include miraculous berry, sweet berry, agbayun,taami, asaa, and ledidi.
The berry was first popularized when European explorer Chevalier des Marchais, who was searching West Africa for new fruits in a 1725 excursion, noticed that local people picked the berry from shrubs and chewed it before meals.
When you eat the fleshy part of the fruit, miraculin binds to your tongue's taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. At neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors, but at low pH (the pH normally found in sour foods such as lemon, radishes, pickles, hot sauce, beer, etc.) miraculin binds protons and activates the sweet receptors, resulting in the perception of sweet taste. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (depending on how much saliva you produce, this can be from 20 minutes up to 2 hours).
In the 1970s in the USA, an attempt was made to commercialize the fruit for its ability to turn unsweet foods into sweet foods without a caloric penalty, but ended in failure when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified the berry as a food additive. There is actually a conspiracy theory that the project was sabotaged by the sugar industry to prevent loss of business caused by a drop in demand for sugar (incidentally theories similar to this exist to explain the FDA's labeling of stevia as a “dietary supplement” instead of a “sweetener”).
OK, enough of the history. Let's take a look at the Greenfield's Miracle Berry Party, complete with my wife's embarrassment about having just gotten out of the shower, my children's thoughts on which of our food choices failed with the Miracle Berry and a final discovery about how to make calorie-free key lime pie in your mouth.
So that's how the Greenfield Miracle Berry Party went down!
Ultimately, having a packet of Miracle Fruit Tablets seems like it would be a pretty handy idea if you, say, wanted to transition from a nightly bowl of ice cream to a half of a grapefruit or a glass of Kombucha instead. Or if you wanted to make that boring platter of vegetables, olives and pickles at a party taste good enough to where you actually decide to skip the chicken wings and nacho dip.
Finally, perhaps you want to go au natural and delve straight into the source of the mBerry Miracle Fruit Tablets: a miracle fruit plant or miracle fruit seeds. You should know that you can indeed order a miracle fruit plant or seeds on Amazon (or possibly elsewhere) – and this is probably a safer choice than the tomato plants that are now being genetically modified to produce miraculin compounds.
I actually did just that, but received the following message the next day, so be forewarned if you live in a cold climate:
I suppose I'll just keep my fingers crossed that our little plant will show up someday, at which time I'm guessing my consumption of lemons, limes, balsamic vinaigrette and old kombucha is going to skyrocket.
Well, what do you think? Do you plan on throwing your own Miracle Berry Party? Do you have questions about this amazing little fruit? Leave your thoughts below!