4 comments May 29th, 2008at 11:19am Posted by Eli

Here’s a little bit of lunchtime coolness/weirdness:

CARRIE DASHOW dropped a large dollop of lemon sorbet into a glass of Guinness, stirred, drank and proclaimed that it tasted like a “chocolate shake.”

Nearby, Yuka Yoneda tilted her head back as her boyfriend, Albert Yuen, drizzled Tabasco sauce onto her tongue. She swallowed and considered the flavor: “Doughnut glaze, hot doughnut glaze!”

They were among 40 or so people who were tasting under the influence of a small red berry called miracle fruit at a rooftop party in Long Island City, Queens, last Friday night. The berry rewires the way the palate perceives sour flavors for an hour or so, rendering lemons as sweet as candy.

The host was Franz Aliquo, 32, a lawyer who styles himself Supreme Commander (Supreme for short) when he’s presiding over what he calls “flavor tripping parties.” Mr. Aliquo greeted new arrivals and took their $15 entrance fees. In return, he handed each one a single berry from his jacket pocket.

“You pop it in your mouth and scrape the pulp off the seed, swirl it around and hold it in your mouth for about a minute,” he said. “Then you’re ready to go.” He ushered his guests to a table piled with citrus wedges, cheeses, Brussels sprouts, mustard, vinegars, pickles, dark beers, strawberries and cheap tequila, which Mr. Aliquo promised would now taste like top-shelf Patrón.

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.

During the 1970s, a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration dashed hopes that an extract of miraculin could be sold as a sugar substitute. In the absence of any plausible commercial application, the miracle fruit has acquired a bit of a cult following.


[Aliquo] believes that the best way to encounter the fruit is in a group. “You need other people to benchmark the experience,” he said. At his first party, a small gathering at his apartment in January, guests murmured with delight as they tasted citrus wedges and goat cheese. Then things got trippy.

“You kept hearing ‘oh, oh, oh,’ ” he said, and then the guests became “literally like wild animals, tearing apart everything on the table.”

“It was like no holds barred in terms of what people would try to eat, so they opened my fridge and started downing Tabasco and maple syrup,” he said.


The fruits are available by special order from specialty suppliers in New York, including Baldor Specialty Foods and S. Katzman Produce. Katzman sells the berries for about $2.50 a piece, and has been offering them to chefs.

Mr. Aliquo gets his miracle fruit from Curtis Mozie, 64, a Florida grower who sells thousands of the berries each year through his Web site, (A freezer pack of 30 berries costs about $90 with overnight shipping.) Mr. Mozie, who was in New York for Mr. Gollner’s reading, stopped by the flavor-tripping party.

Mr. Mozie listed his favorite miracle fruit pairings, which included green mangoes and raw aloe. “I like oysters with some lemon juice,” he said. “Usually you just swallow them, but I just chew like it was chewing gum.”

A large group of guests reached its own consensus: limes were candied, vinegar resembled apple juice, goat cheese tasted like cheesecake on the tongue and goat cheese on the throat. Bananas were just bananas.

Amazing, and hard to imagine.  I’m tempted to try this someday.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness


  • 1. Charles  |  May 29th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    As long as bananas are still bananas, it’s all good.

  • 2. Ruth  |  May 29th, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    This stuff scares your sugar cane growers in the tropical areas of the U.S., as it is a tempting sugar substitute. FDA answers to lobbyists. Therefore, you will never get it unless, say, Murdoch decides it would be fun to grow.

  • 3. spocko  |  May 29th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I’ll come to your party when you throw it.

    Of course you could save money if “vinegar resembled apple juice, goat cheese tasted like cheesecake” and serve apple juice and cheesecake.

    I wonder what eating all those acidy things would do to your stomach.

  • 4. Eli  |  May 29th, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    It’s not even a sugar substitute, really – more like something that makes sugar irrelevant and unnecessary. Just think what a huge boon this would be for people who need to reduce or eliminate sugar in their diet.

    There could even be a new category of sugar-free foods that dispense with artificial sweeteners entirely, just for berry users.

    Not entirely sure how parents might end up using this… (“Mmm, liver! Thanks, Mom!”)

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