Have you been invited to a trendy so called ‘flavour tripping party’ to pop some pills also known as ‘fruit dropping’? Now it’s all above-board, there’s nothing dodgy going on it’s simply synsepalum dulcificum or the miracle berry to the non Latin speakers amongst us.
This berry, which is barely larger than a grape, doesn’t have a particularly nice taste, rather bland really. So what’s all the fuss about you may well ask? After eating a berry, the glycoprotein called miraculin inside, tampers with the tongue’s ability to taste sourness. So, instead of wincing and grimacing when you bite into a lemon, your face beams with pleasure at the incredible sweetness radiating around your mouth.
Originating in Ghana, West Africa, they were first documented by French explorer Chevalier des Marchais in 1725. The local tribesmen have been eating these berries for hundreds of years as a natural sugar substitute to enhance the bitter flavours of the local foodstuff in meagre times. Unfortunately, they were unable to be exported as they have a very limited shelf life.
But in the 1960’s entrepreneur Robert Harvey had a great business idea. He began growing the berries in Jamaica and Puerto Rico with the idea of aiming his berry products at diabetics and the slimming industry. Sadly, the US Food and Drugs Administration decided that the products would need several more years of being tested before they were ready for market. Financially, Robert Harvey couldn’t afford to do this. And according to conspiracy theorists, there was a spot of pressure being exterted from the large sugar and saccharine corporations onto the FDA.
Available over the internet in powder and tablet form and in Florida, Curtis Mozie is growing and selling thousands of the berries. See if you can get hold of one of these miracle berries at around $2 a go. Pop it in your mouth spit out the stone and see what miraculous flavours you can create over the next forty five minutes or so. Have a swig of vinegar and marvel at the sweet apple juice taste, or the metamorphosis of a spoonful of yoghurt into sweetened heavy cream, a glass of Guinness transforms into a heavenly chocolate shake. How cool is that? So grab a berry and see what miracles you can perform in your kitchen, any suggestions?
Photos courtesy of Zquack and Tastybits - Flickr