If we have a trip down in a girl’s memory lane, we will, without a doubt, have a fantasy-filled journey. Fairy godmother shows up, and ragged Cinderella suddenly finds herself party-ready in a dashing gown and glass shoes. Poor Rapunzel is locked in a high tower because Gothel needs her long golden hair to keep her youthful beauty. Ariel makes a deal with the sea witch and transforms her mermaid tail into a pair of human legs. Meanwhile, Princess Jasmine and Aladdin are having a whole new-world feel on a magic carpet ride. And finally, a true love’s kiss breaks the spell that made Aurora sleep for a long time.
Disney welcomes every little girl in its home. A home of princesses, princes, castles, gowns, villains, tiaras, and crowns. A magical home of storytelling and happy endings. Oh, the nostalgia that Disney brings. We smile and unexpectedly missed our childhood. In a moment, we are no longer the believers of spells and magic, but grown-up who live in the reality of the ordinary world. We believe in what we see.
For adults, it takes more than just seeing to believe in something. Sometimes, people may have to literally taste some magic to believe it. And it only takes one fruit, neither fairy godmother, spells, nor any hullabaloos to make you believe in magic and miracle again.
A miracle fruit it is! Miracle fruit is a tiny trickster that makes everything sweet. It will make your lemon juice tastes like a chocolate shake, and your beer will taste like a sweet juice. Every lime can taste like candy, vinegar like apple juice, and goat cheese like cheesecake. Even Tabasco-drizzled doughnut would still taste more awesome. Your foodie friends may have tried it in one of their “food tripping parties.”
The miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificatum) is cranberry-like in appearance, which has a thin rind and a thinner layer of pulp that surrounds a central seed about a pine nut’s size and shape. The fruit itself has very mild and minor taste. It is a little tart and a bit sweet like a mix between a wild cranberry and a cherry. The miracle fruit is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century.
How does the miracle fruit turn sour food sweet? According to Linda Bartoshuk, a scientist that studied the fruit at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste, the reaction is caused by a protein called miraculin. It binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids.
As Cinderella’s fairy godmother once said, “Even miracles take a little time.” So to have that miraculous experience, you need to pop the fruit and hold it in your mouth for about a minute before you gorge on all manner of sour and spicy foods. The effect can last for an hour, with the intensity of sweetness decreasing over time. And like any other trippy activities, it’s more fun doing it in groups.
Miracle fruit has been proposed as a treatment for the taste changes experienced by some chemotherapy patients, though it needed further studies. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified the product as a food additive requiring further safety testing. Hence, the attempt to commercialize the fruit extract as a low-calorie sweetener in the 1970s was never pursued. Similarly, the European Union needed a safety assessment before the miracle fruit extracts can be used as a food additive. Nevertheless, the fruits are available from specialty suppliers in New York, including Baldor Specialty Foods and S. Katzman Produce. The latter sells the berries for about S2.50 a piece.
Japan, on the other hand, approved the selling of miracle fruit tablets online in 2006. An Osaka-based trading company began selling the tablets online at 3,990 yen for a package of 10. Mitsuharu Shimamura, a researcher at NGK Insulators Ltd., conducted a joint study with a Taiwanese Agricultural Firm and established the world’s first technology to make tablets out of the tropical fruit. Shimamura expected people with diabetes would use tablets as an alternative to sweeten food and drinks. There are restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka called Miracle Fruit Café eateries that offer sweets using the food.
- Miracle fruit – Synsepalum dulcificum (Wikipedia)