Miracle Fruit

July 20, 2010

I remember an episode of CSI: New York titled “Forbidden Fruit” in which the murdered victim was found dead at a party in which people were eating foods that normally are avoided because they are unpleasant tasting. The detectives found out that the people at the party had consumed a Synsepalum dulcificum berry, AKA “miracle fruit” from West Africa that alters the taste buds. In this case, it allowed the victim to ingest dangerous levels of drain cleaner without knowing it due to the altered taste buds. The episode showed the head detective biting into an onion and declaring it tasted sweet.

Now, I believe the writers did twist the truth a little bit writing that episode, as Lindsey claimed that it makes bitter foods taste sweet, but most research, although not all, I have seen says that the berry makes sour foods taste sweet, not bitter foods. In my experience, I tend to agree. Another flaw with the clip is that she did not tell him not to break open the seed of the berry, as so many warn against. Still, this clip does a pretty good job explaining how it works, though I remain skeptical that one could drink drain cleaner.

Miracle Fruit recently crossed my path again when I was reading a blog by the Mad Fermentationist titled “Miracle Fruit Sour Beer Tasting.” Reading about his experience, I decided that since I was kind of talking about taste that I would get my hands on some Miracle Fruit Tablets and try it out myself because it sounded fun.

One thing I should point out that the TV clip got right is how dangerous it can be to alter your taste buds, even for a little while. Taste buds are there to protect you against potentially harmful foods, as you will not ingest something that tastes bad to you. This helps to protect you against some poisons and harmful bacteria.

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One Response to “Miracle Fruit”

  1. Angel Says:

    I don’t know what would put me in greater danger: loss of smell or lose of taste. It’s a toss-up between a gas leak or rancid meat.
    I haven’t experimented with drain cleaner & miracle fruit, but my guess is that (even if it tasted slightly sweet) it would burn going down your esophagus & into your stomach. Gasoline would probably be the same way. It made for a good episode of CSI, though. Thanks.


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