May 30th, 2008

Forget the Tupperware—let’s have a miracle fruit party

It’s called miracle fruit, and it seems like something out of Brave New World. It’s not an item engineered by modern science, though, but an African berry that’s been known to Westerners since the 18th century.

Recently it’s become the sensation (literally) at parties where guests pop one in the mouth and then revel in the fact that such low-cal, ordinarily sour foods as citrus wedges, Brussels sprouts, mustard, vinegars, and pickles eaten within an hour or so afterwards become overwhelmingly sweet.

The berry is a dieter’s dream, although it’s very expensive at two dollars or more a pop. And just imagine what it can do for diabetics.

I wonder, though. If it’s anything like my experience with artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, it just doesn’t taste the same as the real thing. There’s something cloying and artificial about sugar substitutes. What’s more, apparently there’s evidence they don’t help a diet but actually hurt it, somehow increasing the desire for other food and leading to weight gain rather than loss:

…[A]nimals are similarly trained to anticipate lots of calories when they taste something sweet—in nature, sweet foods are usually loaded with calories. When an animal eats a saccharin-flavored food with no calories, however—disrupting the sweetness and calorie link—the animal tends to eat more and gain more weight, the new study shows.

And watch out for eating the berry and then drinking wine; it tends to make it all taste like Manischewitz. And eating it and then eating candy is too much of a good thing.

Regrettably, I suspect there’s no free lunch after all.

But the people attending these parties are having quite the time anyway, a real feeding frenzy. Watch out; as Franz Aliquo, a lawyer who hosts some of the festivities, says (shades of La Grande Bouffe, minus Marcello Mastroianni):

“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.

Not together, I hope.

9 Responses to “Forget the Tupperware—let’s have a miracle fruit party”

  1. Sdferr Says:

    Does this work like the skin temperature phenomenon, wherein you chill your hand (say) way down and then feel the sensation of burning by running lukewarm water over it? So sour anything would taste sweet by contrast?

  2. Roy Lofquist Says:

    Not so new. We of the sixties witnessed exactly the same phenomenon after the second joint.

  3. Sergey Says:

    Why FDA banished extract of this fruit (miraculin) to be sold as artificial sweetener? This is simply a protein. It can not be a health hazard even theoretically.

  4. Gringo Says:

    Surely the miracle fruit can be transformed with Miracle Whip and with Jello.

  5. soupcon Says:

    Eaters will get the same insulin spike even if it doesn’t contain any increased glucose.This phenomenon also occurs in diet soda and other artificially sweetened drinks;our brains taste sugar and we get the insulin resistance effect.Ever wonder why people still stay overweight even though they consume plenty of sugar free foods?

  6. Sergey Says:

    People stay overweight because they continue to eat lots of other carbohydrates even when they switch to sugar-free diet. It is mostly American phenomenon: Americans are notorious for sticking to bad dietary habits. Recently I attended a herontology seminar where a cardiologist gave his advice on avoiding cardiovascular diseases. Overweight was named as the leading risk factor, and statistics was really convincing. He pointed out that both Europe and USA has achieved sizable risk reduction during last two decades, they did it by very different strategies: Europeans radically changed their dietary habits, while Americans did it by using medication and regular probing cholesterol in bloodstream. In Finland there is no obesity problem now: they eat more fish and vegetables, olive oil and stop use pork products and fat milk and butter, very popular previously in this really cold country.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    To use the old Hanseatic League standards, fat people are rich and prosperous people.

  8. OBloodyHell Says:

    Hey, we are all decendants of Marie Antoinette:

    We want to have our cake and eat it, too!

  9. Jonathan Daniel (Certified Fitness Trainer) Says:

    Forget the diet, regardless of what we eat we are still not moving around enough.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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