Tag Archives: foodists

Miracle fruit: turn lemons into lemonade


Photo credit: Wikipedia entry for "miracle fruit"

“Hey, do you want to take a flavour trip?”

What started as a pretty normal Sunday afternoon quickly became a mind-bending taste excursion featuring the much-touted miracle fruit. The science of it isn’t fully understood, but researchers think that active compounds in the fruit bind to your taste buds and alter the way that you perceive sour food. Rather than sour, you taste sweet. The miracle fruit is often cited as a way to make healthy foods taste good to a population whose taste buds have been conditioned to crave sugar.

I’m less interested in reaching out to people with maladjusted tastebuds, and more interested in science experiments. Which, in this case, meant raiding the fridge and finding as many sour things as possible.

For some semblance of controlled data, I checked my taste buds before eating the miracle fruit. Lemon? Sour. Lime? Tangy, reminiscent of gin and tonics past. Mandarin orange? Slightly sweet, vaguely tangy, slight honey notes.

The fruit itself is pretty non-descript. It’s pink, with a thin skin and a slightly gelatinous pulp surrounding a hard pit. It tastes sweet and tangy, though I wonder if even the taste of the fruit is altered by its taste-changing properties.

A minute after eating the fruit, I took a nervous taste test. Lemon? Egads! It tasted like a vehicle for pure, unadulterated sugar. Kind of like ordering a lemon drop martini, ignoring the vodka and lemon juice, and licking all of the sugar off the rim. Times ten. In fact, it was too sweet for me – it made my stomach do fluttery little flips like something weird was going on. Which, well, was a pretty accurate reading.

The lime was less sweet than the lemon, though still a mess of syrupy sugary sensation that slid down the back of my throat. The mandarin orange still tasted like a mandarin, but with an enhanced honey finish.

From there, it degenerated into raiding the fridge for anything and everything. Lemon juice? Like sugar water. Dijon mustard? Like honey dijon. Balsamic vinegar? Like a balsamic reduction, super sweet and syrupy. White vinegar? Like a mellower version of itself, almost like rice wine vinegar. Worcestershire sauce? Still spicy, though slightly sweeter than normal.

Mango chutney tasted surprisingly like spicy ketchup. Which, really, is not surprising when you consider that ketchup is a vehicle for sugar.

And teeny tiny grape tomatoes plucked off the remaining vines from the summer gone by? Like teeny tiny pockets of honeyed syrup, exploding in my mouth and finishing with the savoury umami-ness of tomatoes.

Things that it didn’t have an effect on: tahini and peanut sauce. They both tasted normal, because there isn’t much acid in them. Therefore, there was no change in their perceived taste.

The only downside? My sweetness receptors are completely exhausted. No chocolate for me, at least for a few days.

And finally, an observation: the more acid that’s present in a food (for example, lemons and the flavour-bomb grape tomatoes), the more marked the sweetness effect is. It was definitely weird, but not so weird that I wouldn’t try it again. And you’d better believe that the next time, I’ll be armed with an arsenal of sour foods and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.


…And more strategy and stamina

I wrote a post for Foodists about the world of judging food competitions. I’ve been training for years. Read all about it here.

If this is bad, I don’t want to be good.

Sometimes, the universe is subtle and coy. And other days, it literally hits you over the head and asks why you have your eyes closed.

I was walking home last night and had an insatiable craving for a grilled cheese sandwich. Now, I went on a grilled cheese kick about a month ago, where I couldn’t get enough of artisan sourdough, whole-grain mustard and a delicious mixture of Gruyere, Emmenthal and caraway Havarti.


Last night, I was craving a grilled cheese sandwich made of Wonderbread and Kraft Singles. Thankfully, the grocery store was closed. Another disaster averted.

And this afternoon on Ye Olde Twitter? @fizzpoptweet asked people to name their top guilty pleasures. Okay, universe, I get it. Guilty pleasures.

Read more about it in my post for Foodists.

Provenance series at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks

Check out my Foodists post about an upcoming six-part series at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. If you’ve ever been confused about where your food comes from – and why it even matters – you should sign up.

Tales from the underground, Foodists-style

I had the pleasure of eating at an underground restaurant a few weeks ago. The article is a mash-up of my and Kevin‘s writing, with Nancy‘s photography. Get the low-down here.

Of Birthdays and Tiny Bites

I wrote a little somethin’ somethin’ over here at Foodists, congratulating Tiny Bites’ Karen Hamilton on her blog’s first birthday – and the launch of something even more exciting.

I’m just clucking around

For today’s shameless plug, I point you in the direction of my latest post on Foodists. It’s about chickens and stuff.