A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue
Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

RADISH, WHERE IS THY STING? At flavor-tripping parties, guests find that miracle fruit makes everything sweet

    Published: May 28, 2008

    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.” 
    凱莉達修則往一杯琴酒裡倒了一大團檸檬雪酪,攪一攪後喝下去,說這酒喝起來像「巧克力奶昔」。

     

     

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    Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

    HOW’S IT DO THAT? Franz Aliquo, who calls himself Supreme Commander, right, supplied miracle berries grown by Curtis Mozie, left, to party-goers in Long Island City, Queens, last weekend.

    Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

    Those who attended sampled the red berries then tasted foods, including cheese, beer and brussels sprouts, finding the flavors transformed. Beer can taste like chocolate, lemons like candy. Mr. Aliquo says he holds the parties to “turn on a bunch of people’s taste buds.” 

    Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

     

    Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

     

    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!”
    一旁的米田由香(音譯)把頭往後偏,讓男友亞伯特袁把幾滴Tabasco辣醬滴在她舌頭上。她把醬吞下去,覺得味道像「甜甜圈糖漿,辣的甜甜圈糖漿!」 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. 
    他們正在紐約市皇后區參加一場屋頂派對,在神秘果這種紅色小果子的影響之下,嘗試各種食物的味道,試吃者約有40人。這種莓果能改變口舌對酸味的感覺,把檸檬變得像糖果般甜,效果約可維持一個小時。

     

     

    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.
    宴會主人是32歲的律師法蘭茲艾利果,經常主持這種他稱為「滋味體驗宴會」的活動。艾利果向初次參加的人打招呼,向他們收15美元入場費。再從外套口袋掏出果子,每人發一個。

    “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.
    「在嘴裡把它咬開,讓果肉和果核分開,上下左右攪動,約含上1分鐘。」他說:「然後就準備吃東西囉。」他把來賓領到桌旁,桌上有切成三角形的柑橘類水果、起司、球芽甘藍、芥末、醋、黑啤酒與草莓。

    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.
    學名為Synsepalum dulcificum的神秘果原產於非洲西部,西方人到18世紀才知道有這種東西。據研究這種果子的科學家、佛羅里達大學嗅覺味覺中心專家琳達巴爾托修克說,導致味覺反應改變的是一種叫神秘果素的蛋白質,它能與味蕾結合,與酸接觸時引出甜味。巴爾托修克博士表示,她還沒聽過有人因為吃了神秘果而出事。

    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. 
    1970年代,美國食品藥物管理局做成裁定後,把神秘果素萃取物當成代糖銷售的希望也隨之破滅。神秘果在看似無法商業應用下,獲得不少人如崇拜密教般青睞。

    Sina Najafi, editor in chief of the art magazine Cabinet, has featured miracle fruits at some of the publication’s events. At a party in London last October, the fruit, he said, “had people testifying like some baptismal thing.”
    藝術雜誌「櫥櫃」總編輯席那納賈菲曾多次以神秘果作為該雜誌活動重點,他說,去年10月倫敦一場宴會上,「一堆人挺身為神秘果做見證,場面宛如洗禮。」

    The berries were passed out last week at a reading of “The Fruit Hunters,” a new book by Adam Leith Gollner with a chapter about miracle fruit.

    Bartenders have been experimenting with the fruit as well. Don Lee, a beverage director at the East Village bar Please Don’t Tell, has been making miracle fruit cocktails on his own time, but the bar probably won’t offer them anytime soon. The fruit is highly perishable and expensive — a single berry goes for $2 or more.
    酒保也用神秘果做過實驗。曼哈坦酒吧「請勿透露」飲品主管唐李向來把調神秘果雞尾酒當嗜好,但這家酒吧可能短時間內不會推出這類飲料。神秘果爛得很快,價格又高,一個少說也要賣美金兩塊錢。

     

    nce J. Mayhew developed a series of drink recipes with miracle fruit foams and extracts for a recent issue of the cocktail magazine Imbibe and may create others for Beaker & Flask, a restaurant opening later this year in Portland, Ore. 
    蘭斯梅修為最近某期雞尾酒雜誌「喝東西」,提供了一系列他用神秘果泡沫與萃取物研發的食譜,也許還會為今年稍後要在奧勒岡州波特蘭市開張的餐廳「酒杯與酒瓶」調製其他口味。

     

    He cautioned that not everyone enjoys the berry’s long-lasting effects. Despite warnings, he said, one woman became irate after drinking one of his cocktails. He said, “She was, like, ‘What did you do to my mouth?’ ”
    他提醒大家,並不是人人都喜歡神秘果的持久效果。他說,雖然事前已三番兩次警告過,一名女子還是在喝了他調的雞尾酒後大發雷霆。他說:「她的反應就像:『你給我喝的是什麼碗糕?』」

     

    Mr. Aliquo issues his own warnings. “It will make all wine taste like Manischewitz,” he said. And already sweet foods like candy can become cloying.

    He said that he had learned about miracle fruit while searching ethnobotany Web sites for foods he could make for a diabetic friend.

    The party last week was his sixth “flavor tripping” event. He hopes to put on a much larger, more expensive affair in June. Although he does sell the berries on his blog, www.flavortripping.wordpress.com, Mr. Aliquo maintains that he isn’t in it for the money. (He said he made about $100 on Friday.) Rather, he said, he does it to “turn on a bunch of people’s taste buds.”

    He 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.

    Many of the guests last week found the party through a posting at www.tThrillist.com. Mr. Aliquo sent invitations to a list of contacts he has been gathering since he and a friend began organizing StreetWars, a popular urban assassination game using water guns.

    One woman wanted to see Mr. Aliquo eat a berry before she tried one. “What, you don’t trust me?” he said.

    She replied, “Well, I just met you.”

    Another guest said, “But you met him on the Internet, so it’s safe.”

    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, www.miraclefruitman.com. (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.

    For all the excitement it inspires, the miracle fruit does not make much of an impression on its own. It has a mildly sweet tang, with firm pulp surrounding an edible, but bitter, seed. Mr. Aliquo said it reminded him of a less flavorful cranberry. “It’s not something I’d just want to eat,” he said.

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