I first heard of flavortripping last summer. I read an article in the New York Times about a substance that altered tastes of reality. People were going to underground parties for the experience. At these parties they would consume Synsepalum dulcificum, the Miracle Fruit. Once eaten, the fruit tells your taste buds to taste things differently. It makes everything sweeter sweeter.
Over the last year, I was passively trying to find a flavortripping party. I expected that my band of foodie friends would have a hook-up. Alas, nothing panned out. So I decided to take my tongue into my own hands, and I sought out the mister responsible for these berries.
11 keystrokes into a search engine, yielded quick results: Miracle Fruit Man. He supplied the participants at the party covered by the New York Times. His plan was simple. If you send him 40 dollars (plus $28 s/h) he'd two-day express you 20 frozen berries.
I just wanted one.
Using ye old social networking tools, I discovered a bunch of people interested in turning sour into sweet. So I invested in the Miracle Fruit. In an email I told those interested, that they out to confirm ASAP, or risk having someone else chomp up their fruit.
The fruit arrived on Wednesday in a small square box. The package was insulated by styrofoam. A larger plastic bag held two small cubes of dry ice and a smaller bag. That bag contained 20 little miracles.
I spent the next few days confirming the guest list. I hadn't hosted anything in years, and I was feeling anxious that it might not work out. I had a lot to live up to, in my own mind. For god's sake, in a former life I was known as the Party King. That was years ago, in my aged transient years, I became the type of person who went to a lot of parties, but hosted very few.
After several pep talks that reinforced the glory of the fruit, I calmed down and remained positively excited about this impending experience.
On Sunday morning, I went to to the market to purchase this savory bounty that would soon become saccharine. Goat cheese, grapefruit, olives, salami, wine, bok choy, lemon, vinegar, asparagus, Guinness, pickles, mozzarella, meringues. My cart looked like it belonged to binging pregnant woman. (One whose child might end up with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on account of the drink.)
I went home, to prepare for guests. I chopped the citrus, uncapped the pickled, and tore up the greens. Every glass, dish, and bowl was filled with foods you normally wouldn't serve at get-togethers.
Guests began to arrive. I had them taste everything, so that they could compare the flavors once under the influence.
After the crowd marinated for ninety minutes, it was time to flavortrip.
I held the berries in the air, as I read from the instructions that also came from the insulated box.
"Place the Miracle Fruit in your mouth. It will thaw in seconds."
"Remove the pulp completely from the seed with your tongue and teeth (without biting the seed) and move it around your mouth for about a minute or two."
"Take the seed out of your mouth and eat the remains of the fruit."
I re-read this a few times, before someone said, "Fuck it, just give us the berries."
So I passed out the miracle fruit, as I collected $10 from each partygoer. It was a good thing that I was wearing a guayabera, known for its many pockets. We attempted to adjust our nerve endings simultaneously, but some giddy participants, popped their fruit immediately.
At first everybody looked around. Our mouths didn't feel any different. This was a hoax! A pure waste of money! I edged towards the bowl of lemons.
I passed out wedges. Together this time we all bit into the citrus.
The Miracle Fruit made lemons completely sweet. Incredible! There was a frenzy at the food table. People started tasting everything.
Vinegar went down like wine. Goat cheese began to taste like frosting. Guinness tasted like a chocolate malt.
Everyting tasted sweeter. This made me think that everything would taste better, so I bit into a jalapeño.
Miracle Fruit sweetens, but it doesn't entirely curb spice.
This revelry lasted about an hour. As we collectively started to come down, glasses of vinegar reluctantly made their rounds. How terrible it would be to find out, mid-gulp that the fruit had worn off.
Eventually the fruit did wear off, and people gladly accepted antacids, to cure the rumbly tumblys that would certainly follow.
I have seen the other side, and I would recommend it. In this sweetened world, when life gives you lemons, take a bite, because the lemon tastes like lemonade.
--By Joshua Heller, www.joshuaheller.com