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say it with me now, “om nom nom”

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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.


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!

The mimosa. A delicious blend of fruit & alcohol that transforms even the most mediocre of brunches into an experience nothing short of magical. But alas, there are times where maybe perhaps a little bit of drinking might not be in the cards. Perhaps your hangover dictates brunch, but the thought of another drink, well, let’s just say you don’t want to think about another drink.

The solution is simple: Faux Mimosa. In addition to the dilemma above, it can be applied to a number of other problems as well. Perhaps you have that teetotaler friend, or worse, a decidedly non-teetotaler friend who gets whiny and annoying. Maybe you have a sister or niece *just* shy of 19 and you want to be the cool older sister (or cool aunt) without all the baggage of being arrested for serving alcohol to someone underage. How cool would you be to have her pals over, as you bemusedly observe the pitch and slurredness of their gossip rise over the course of the evening, so sure they are that this is the real deal. I would warn that you might end up providing crash space.

So imagine my delight in finding this recipe:

Faux mimosa.

Side note: while the Fish House Punch looks like it might be pretty good, you’d think they could come up with a better title. Really. Or just run with it and garnish with fish heads.

This gem comes to us via that 1977 classic Sharing Our Best, a collection gathered by the Devil Worshipping Green Mountain Deputies Association of Vermont. The Devil Worshipping part isn’t explicitly addressed, except for THAT HUGE UPSIDE-DOWN PENTACLE ON THE COVER, which couldn’t possibly be a gross oversight.

Faux mimosa.

We begin our Champagne Mocktail odyssey.

Buy local . . . soda.

I like to buy local whenever possible. Turns out Polar makes its soda, like, 10 miles that way, so it’s extra fresh and better retains its vitamin content. That’s how that works, right?

I decided to squeeze my own orange and grapefruit juice, since I really don’t drink these things anyway and didn’t want to surrender the fridge space. These are also locally-grown oranges and grapefruit. I just love going orange-picking, they have this great farm right in Westborough.

Citrus. Decidedly not local.

I’m just kidding. Citrus plants don’t grow in New England.

In an awkward proportion, to get a cup each of orange and grapefruit juice, it took 3 oranges and 1.5 grapefruit. I think this probably changes depending on season, specific varietal and origin of your oranges, though the grapefruit proportion seems as though it would be a little more reliable. As a frame of reference, 1 orange = 1/3 c juice and 1 grapefruit = 2/3 c juice.

The remains.

The easiest way to get juice out of citrus is with a citrus reamer. They’re cheap, extremely effective, and feel like way less of a pain in the ass than one of those little cup things. Also, you can strain the juice as you make it, which is convenient. Just poke it in your fruit there, mess up the insides, then let the juice drip into the sieve, and presumably the bowl underneath. Last step is to squeeze the orange/grapefruit around the reamer and rotate.

How to ream out an orange.

Get out your finest $5 Ikea pitcher.

I actually do love this thing.

And pour your non-alcoholic champagne.

Ginger ale.

Faux mimosa.

Faux mimosa.

Looks like a nice witbier, eh?

Faux mimosa.

Pour into your completely inappropriately-shaped glass.

But mimosas are for girls. Girls with names like Kelli and Brittany. Let’s girl this up a bit, shall we?

A 3 on the girly scale.

Well, that’s nice, but Kelli and Brittany would kinda feel like you aren’t trying. Put some fruit in there, bitches love that shit.

On the girl scale, perhaps a 6

Okay, we’re getting close. Let’s just go all out.

Kelli and Brittany would totally drink this.

Drink on, ladies, drink on.

This was a bit sweet for my tastes, so I recommend excluding the extra sugar—it just felt so sticky sweet, it was much more refreshing after I diluted a bit with seltzer water. I also think there’s a little room for experimentation here down the seltzer water path, it makes for a dryer-tasting “champagne.” This inordinate sweetness is why you’ll notice I went from making Mock Champagne to Mocktail Mimosa. It just describes it better.

Faux Mimosa
from Sharing Our Best by the Green Mountain Deputies Association (1977)

Feel free to make this low-sugar or sugar-laden according to your preference. Serves 8.

1 liter ginger ale
1 c grapefruit juice (1.5 grapefruit if fresh-squeezing)
1 c orange juice (3 oranges if fresh-squeezing)
1 c water

Mix. Chill. Text Kelli and Brittany and see if they’re doing anything.

nutrition summary (1 serving with diet ginger ale): 23 calories, no fat, no fiber; about .5 weight watchers points