I could have sworn I’d written about this already, but then again I may be confusing this blog with the Paris Review, Lingua Franca, The Journal of Computational Physics, or one of the other highbrow periodicals to which I regularly contribute.
Anyway, the New York Times has a nifty rundown on miracle fruit, a mildly tangy sweet fruit that pulls some serious hijinks on your taste buds. In short, eating one tiny miracle fruit makes everything you eat for the next hour taste much sweeter.
Limes taste like candy. Hot sauce tastes like doughnut glaze. Vinegar tastes like apple juice. The acrid bitterness of a loveless relationship tastes — well that tastes the same actually.
The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids, according to a scientist who has studied the fruit, Linda Bartoshuk at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste. Dr. Bartoshuk said she did not know of any dangers associated with eating miracle fruit.
Of course sweeter isn’t always better. Experts say combining miracle fruit with chocolate, candy, wine, or other sweet or balanced flavors produces an overly-sweet taste sensation.
Still, it is intriguing. I’ll have to pick some up next time I find myself at a table full of fermented shark meat.
A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue [NY Times]