a little while ago that I was thinking of
trying miracle berries, for the
the experience. These contain a substance
which binds at
a molecular level to sour-tasting molecules but itself binds to sweet-flavour receptors on the
converting sour flavours into sweet.
It turned out (perhaps not surprisingly) that you can't just go down to the
greengrocers and pick some of these berries up: they're too delicate. If you
want fresh berries, you can order them on the Internet, and they will be sent
to you packed in dry ice. This costs quite a lot, and they don't last very
long, so I didn't do that.
Alternatively, you can get a powder made from the berries. This costs less,
but still quite a lot, and lasts longer, but still not very long, so I didn't
do that either.
Alternatively, you can buy pills made from the berry. These cost £13 for a
pack of ten (the site I bought them from described the berry as the most
expensive fruit in the world!), and last up to eighteen months. I wasn't very
happy at the idea of buying dodgy pills off an Internet site, so I read around
quite a bit before I went ahead with doing so. There are a number of sites
selling miracle berry pills, and pretty much all of them have a FAQ featuring
the question "Is it safe?"... and every site bar one said yes it is. That one
exception (I can't now remember which it is, and have got better things to do
than try and find it again) said something like, "No, it is not safe; we are
selling you these pills as an example to show you what they look
like"―obviously covering their own tracks in case they get sued. What made
this ridiculous is that they even provided a recipe to use with miracle
berries, but then told you in the "Is it safe?" FAQ not to use it!
Anyhow, in the end I ordered pills from mberry, and tried them out with aviva_m.
One doesn't swallow the tablet; because it acts on one's tongue, instead you
let it dissolve on your tongue until it's completely gone.
The Net of a Million Lies suggested some foods to try out with miracle berries:
lemons, beer, grapefruit juice, dill pickles (and their brine), Tabasco
sauce/chilli peppers, strawberries and vinegar. We tried out most of these,
and indeed most of them did taste sweeter as a result. The food left a strange
sweet taste in the mouth afterwards, aviva_m
said it tasted artificial. I concur: it reminded me more of the taste of
artificial sweeteners than pure sugar; but this aftertaste wasn't much present
when food was actually in our mouths, and didn't detract from the food's taste.
I'd been wondering whether the miraculin would be enough to saturated the sour
receptors on the tongue, i.e. would the sour taste be completely replaced with
sweetness? The answer was no: you could still taste sourness, but it was
outweighed by sweetness, in the same way that the sugar in lemon meringue pie
or lemon and lime marmalade offsets the sourness of the lemon.
We didn't have lemons, since we had limes in the house to finish up, and we
tried those first, and they were interesting. Then we tried grapefruit, and
that was the big success for me. I don't like grapefruit, it's too sour for
me, but the miracle berry suddenly turned it into something I really liked, and
I chomped my way enthusiastically through most of the grapefruit. (I hadn't gone overboard on the
limes, as the Web warned that though miracle berries make acidic fruit sweet,
they don't make them any less acidic, and you can get indigestion if you go
and guzzle several whole lemons.)
Beer was disappointing. Neither aviva_m
nor I like beer, so we were hoping this would create a new sensation for us.
In actuality, the Carlsberg (IIRC) I bought tasted completely unchanged. The
same applied to cheese (except that I was the only one of the two of us not
Strawberries were also a little disappointing: People on the Web had written
"this is how strawberries should always
taste." For me, whilst they did taste a bit sweeter, strawberries are naturally sweet, and I
don't feel they need additional sweetening. I wonder whether my reaction might
be influenced by the fact that (not uncommonly, I believe) as I've grown older,
I've found my taste widening to less and less sweet things. Indeed, I think I
actually find strawberries sweeter than I used to, though it's possible that
this is because (as with pineapple) there's a new, sweeter variety sold
nowadays that didn't exist when I was growing up. At any rate, I was raised
dipping strawberries in sugar when I ate them, and find such additional sweetening
completely unnecessary nowadays.
Dill pickles I fluffed slightly, as I accidentally bought an already sweetened
version. (Being in Germany at the time, the dill pickles sold in the supermarket
didn't always quite match up, either by name or contents, with what I'm used to
in the UK.) Tabasco sauce I also found not particularly enhanced; and vinegar I
didn't get a chance to try: Malt vinegar is unknown in Germany (only the British and the
Swedes consume it in Europe, apparently, and whilst you can get it in shops
serving British ex-pats, they're not open late on a Saturday
evening), and kosher wine vinegar is also not something I could buy from the
local supermarket on a Saturday evening. So I'll try vinegar under the influence
of miraculin at home some time when I'm having fish and chips. :o)
All in all, then, miracle berries were an interesting experiment to try, but
not really something I'd rave over, except for what it did for grapefruit. If
anyone wants to join me in trying the foodstuffs I haven't already tried out
under their influence―or take some of the unused tablets off my hands―do please
drop a comment here. Otherwise I'll probably finish off the rest of the
tablets on grapefruit or grapefruit juice over the course of the year. :o)
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