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Dec 4, 2010

Flavor Tripping 101

As soon as I put my credit card info on the form and hit the “submit” button, I felt that familiar shopper’s rush.  You know the one.  The little high you get when you buy something expensive and exciting.  The one that is immediately followed by that other familiar feeling—buyer’s remorse.  Yep, that's the one...and anytime I spend as much on shipping as what the actual item costs, it gives me pause to think:  A) is it legal, B) how good does it have to be if it’s not legal, and C) how much time before I’m out for good behavior.  It wasn’t like I was buying blood diamonds or anything, but judging by the cost per weight, it was pretty much the food equivalent of blood diamonds.    
     What I’m talking about here is miracle fruit, (or Synsepalum dulcificum for you scientific types), a plant that is native to West Africa, but which I totally bypassed and got from Puerto Rico.  In this tiny red berry is a protein called miraculin, which causes a reaction when it parties with the taste buds, which by the way, is just before the real fun begins!  So here's how it works...this little gem comes in contact with acids and acts as a sweetness inducer, thus turning sour to sweet.  That’s the technical business of it, but hey, I was in it purely for the fun.
     So before I went looking for a dealer, uhhh, I mean a legitimate vendor, to purchase these little jewels from, I consulted my peeps to see if they were up for some flavor tripping.  Mrs. Lexus, suspicious nature that she has, immediately asked if they were an illegal substance, and if we were really going to be tripping on LSD?  Hellifiknow, I admitted, checking to make sure she wasn’t wearing a wire.  So then I asked another friend, Blondie, who asked no questions whatsoever, just said if I was having a party and if there was food and tripping involved...well, to sign her and the Mister up.  The Big Guy came up with an unlikely excuse (like work) and RSVP’ed with regrets, of which I wasn’t having any part of.  The Minute Rice family, who hate everything, unless it comes in a cellophane wrapper, actually wanted to come and try foods that they would never have otherwise been inclined to try.  Dr. Lexus said to count him in and offered to perform autopsies for free, if need be.
Some of our samplings, and yes I know this picture is upside down

     With everyone willing to let me screw with their taste buds, I placed my order from an online company called mberry.  I’d like to take just a second to tell you that their VP of Sales, a Mr. David Fong, (contact here) demonstrated the best customer service that I have probably ev-ver experienced.  A SNAFU with the USPS caused my highly perishable berries to arrive late, with some looking a little worse for wear.  Mr. Fong not only refunded my shipping, but he also sent me a free pack of mberry tablets to try. (Note to self: if you plan to have your own flavor tripping party, I highly recommend ordering from this company.)  
So here’s the lowdown. We each popped a Miracle Berry into our mouths, rolled it around like it were an atom in a super conductor, then we bit into it and swished the little bit of pulp around in our mouths. It was pleasant enough tasting, semi-sweet with a typical berry texture and a small seed that was edible, although a little bitter. I felt no weird hallucinations happening in my mouth. No déjà vu from the 70's, no miniature aliens taking over..nada…nothing…hmmm.
The food was laid out ~ let the games begin!  
This is Part 1 of 2 about Miracle Berries and Flavor Tripping.  Stay tuned for the results of our tasting!

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