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The holidays are finally over. For the last two months you’ve put as much deliciously rich foods and mediocre cookie plates as can fit in your mouth at any one time. Upon returning to work, you’ve discovered that your work slacks are a little tight, and you’re considering eschewing your creative and unique New Year’s resolution in favor of the old “lose 20 lbs” standby, because while cable knitting looks really cool, who has time to make anything big enough to be useful?

No worries, everyone else is feeling it too.

Now that family commitments have been satisfied and friends are finally back from where-do-your-parents-live-again, it’s the perfect time to get everyone together for a party to celebrate the end of the bustling season and the beginning of two miserable months before March even begins to tempt you with hints of Spring. What better way than to flavor trip?

Miraculin is really nothing new to dedicated foodies, who probably read This NYTimes Article last year, or considered purchasing some from ThinkGeek. If you are not a dedicated foodie, or do not read the New York Times, good for you! Here’s a simple breakdown of the deal:

Oh hai thar, miraculin tablets!

Miraculin is a chemical derived from the Miracle Fruit of exotic West Africa. It “tricks your tastebuds into thinking sour and bitter foods are sweet.” I can’t imagine that exact sentence hasn’t been used like, a bajilion times, so I put it in quotes, even though I’m not entirely sure who I’m quoting. The experience lasts 20-40 minutes, during which time lemons taste like sweet lemonade, Tabasco has a chocolatey overtone, and sweets taste the same as ever. It is legal in the United States and most other countries, and is not a drug in the sense that your mind is not affected, just your tastebuds. I’m not sure how Mormons might feel about that, so please speak up if you happen to know. There has been talk of using it as an aid to diabetics, in a fashion similar to Stevia, but the process in the US has been held up by red tape, and I suspect that the lingering after-effect stymies the actual practicality of this idea.

Flavor tripping makes a great alternative to the standard “drink beer until we’re drunk” model of throwing a party, and gives an easy (and relatively inexpensive) focus—each serving costs about a dollar, and citrus fruit should be flooding in from Florida any day now. And it’s good clean fun!

But what makes it especially relevant to this time of year is that diet thing. Instead of feeding guests brownies and cookies,* it’s fruit, and tasty enough sneak a few vitamins into someone’s day. Even after the effects have worn off, the lemons and limes can be used for drink garnish, and don’t be surprised if you see a cohort unpeeling an orange or snacking on carrots later in the night.
*(Okay, you can still make your famous brownies, I understand)

Magic pill.

We had a flavor tripping component to our Halloween party a couple years back, and it went over very well. Everyone agreed that grapefruit are simply HEAVENLY on the stuff, and we sampled various sour beers and all but emptied my condiment shelves. I managed to convince 30 or 40 people to take the pill all at once, waited until it was in everyone’s mouth and announced “Haha, that was acid. Enjoy the light show, ladies and gentlemen!” I would not recommend making this joke around family or children, lest you instantly earn the scarlet letter of drug-addled hippy on the fast-track to self-destruction.

Here is pretty much the only relevant shot I have from that totally righteous party. Featuring myself as Lydia the Tattooed Lady, and Sarita as one hot secret service type.

Tasty lemons

On a completely unrelated side note, even a year out, and I’m still really proud of that costume, even if my entire torso was sticky for the first two weeks of November.

Moving right along, below is a list of items that we found especially interesting under the exotic hypnosis of the Miracle Fruit:

  • Lemons, naturally
  • Limes, and though I usually like sour foods anyway, this is the only time I have ever enjoyed a lime
  • Grapefruit, which tastes like a delicate blend of manna and angel’s breath, with notes of the flutter of a dove’s wings
  • Carrots, sweeter than you think!
  • Tabasco, and be careful not to eat too much because it is very delicious
  • Vinegar, which is a real trip
  • Guiness
  • Sour Beers

There were many other beers being a-sampled, but I only managed to try a couple. Make sure that everyone knows to coat their tongue as the tablet dissolves on it. I let it dissolve in the middle to tip of my tongue, which meant the lemons tasted wonderful until the juice made it down on the sides of my tongue and gave me a rude awakening.

Another warning: be careful if you’re prone to heartburn. While your mouth will be flooded with sweetness, you’re still swallowing a whole lotta citric acid (or vinegar, or spicy foods), so BEWARE.

It worked.

Do tell: have you tried the stuff, or are you of the “oh, I always wanted to try that” camp? What delights did you find in your cupboards?

shameless plug: the dishes pictured are for sale on my Etsy site: Aleta’s Kitschen.

ENLIGHTENING FEEDBACK


Kalie, who I’m assuming is Mormon, answered a pivotal question I posed:
Mormons love it! We just can’t do the whole sour beers and Guiness thing!

  1. Becca Said,

    I’ve heard of the pill, but it wasn’t too high on my to try list since I kinda like sour foods…but it might be fun to mess with people. And I can think of a family member/friend or two that I’d love to use the acid joke on. Hm, maybe… a few might not ‘come down’ when I told them I was joking…

    And I love the plates – but I have way too much stuffs in my kitchen as it is and we will be downsizing this year when we buy a house so I can’t add more when I’m supposed to be paring down :(

  2. Kalie Said,

    Mormons love it! We just can’t do the whole sour beers and Guiness thing!

  3. Kim Said,

    I am in the “want to try it but keep forgetting to actually buy it” camp. New Year’s Resolution?

  4. kate Said,

    apparently i have been living under a rock and have not heard of this! very interesting, i like Kim’s idea and i may have to add it to my resolutions to try :)

  5. Nomi01 Said,

    Ohh what an awesome idea for a party!

    And that costume is really nice.

  6. cc Said,

    I talked a bunch of people into trying it last year – so much fun. Citrus is the obvious hit. I actually really enjoyed oranges and balsamic vinegar, not because it made a drastic sour/sweet difference, but because it made them taste like SUPER AWESOME versions of themselves.

    Oh, and this one is pretty stupid, but another fun thing was unsweetened Kool-Aid powder. Deeeelicious.

  7. SteffanyF Said,

    I watched a Law&Order episode that centered around this rowdy group of teenage heirs/heiresses, millionaires, and various troublemakers that had parties where everyone ate miracle berries followed by various disgusting elixirs, and someone killed a girl by feeding her bleach at one of the parties.
    Gruesome.

  8. Katrina Said,

    Like Kate, I’ve been living under a rock too. These sound fantastic! I think I’m going to order some and host my own tastetrip party.

  9. stephchows Said,

    I’ve never tried it… and would be half scared to… yet half totally wanting to :D

  10. Mr. P Said,

    I am DESPERATE to try this. Desperate. I have heard about it many times, but can’t get the Miraculin in the UK.

    LOVE your costume. You look amazing!

  11. lo Said,

    Oh, gosh. Have heard of this, but really haven’t known of anyone to have tried it. I am SO having a party this year on Miraculin.

    You’ve been missed, my dear. I’m very glad you’re back.
    Happy 2010! Looking forward to more adventures with you in the new year.

  12. Robin Said,

    I’ve seen the plant in our local conservatory, but I’ve never tried it. I would love to try it!

  13. Nicole Said,

    These are a total blast!! Such a fun party thing! I have to second the unsweetened Kool Aid, it’s awesome, as well as the vinegar (we did Salt and Vinegar chips, delish).
    Along the lines of citrus, I highly recommend kumquats! They taste like delicious little alien gummy candies! Already planning on doing it again, and for anyone looking, ThinkGeek.com has them in their store.

  14. Cate Said,

    We have an all night art party in Toronto, and somebody had set up a pop-up art exhibit in a bar to give out miracle fruit packs (seed, plus vinegar and lemon and lime slices) and make it seem like a weird infomercial (hard to explain). I didn’t know you could get packs of the pill. My boyfriend is a high end bartender and after trying it he wanted to develop a tasting flight of cocktails to be used in conjunction with the fruit seeds. This is serving as a reminder to me to remind him to get on it!

  15. wasabi prime Said,

    I heard about this and have been eager to try it. It sounds like a food nerd druggie party, but that’s why it’s so freakin’ awesome!

  16. Apollo Said,

    Okay that costume is incredibly awesome. I might steal the idea. Even though I’m a dude I’m pretty sure I can pull that off.

  17. Kelsey Said,

    I am definitely going to have to try this out!

  18. Sabrina Said,

    I got these a while ago, and everyone that’s tried it has eaten limes and lemons to the point of a serious stomach ache. I’m not inventive enough to think of other options on the fly, though, so you’ve given me big prospects.

  19. Kathryn Said,

    I am mormon and I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with tricking your taste buds. I’m also diabetic, so very interested in using it as an artificial sweetener.

  20. Chefjen Said,

    We loved the vinegar and lemons of course……hot sauce. It was fun to make the kids taste, they really got a kick out of it.

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