Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I spend inordinate amounts of time watching, reading about and generally seeking out bizarre food-related things. Restaurants working on the cutting edge (Alinea, wd-50, moto, Fat Duck) captivate my imagination, as do strange and unusual ingredients found in nature.
I just watched a segment on Miracle Fruit done by the guys who run Moto in Chicago - a crazy little berry that, when ingested, tricks the senses into tasting bitter as sweet. I'm a little bit of a weirdo in that I really cannot taste "bitter" things...to me they taste spicy, lovely and full - almost savory. The bitterer the better! I was immediately curious and checked out the New York Times and sure enough, this phenomena has been around for a couple of years now but was first discovered in 1725! Explorer Chevalier des Marchais traveled to West Africa and observed Natives eating the berries prior to dining.
So why would you want to eat this crazy thing? Lots of reasons. Miracle berries were put up for inspection by the FDA as a diabetic-friendly alternative to sugar, but was shot down and categorized as being a "food additive" (some speculate this was a coupe staged by sugar corporations - the FDA denies it, but apparently refuses to produce any documentation on the decision. Hm.) Also, the guys over at Moto are pushing for research to be done on how Miracle Berries (actual name: Synsepalum dulcificum) could be used as a solution to alleviating world hunger. So many plants that are available to us (and around the world) are so distasteful to the palate that we will not ingest them - Miracle Berries could assuage the bitter tastes common to wild vegetation and render them viable options to cultures with very little else to rely on.
Intriguing, yes? I think so. Especially with what could happen with them in the future. I can't wait to see what innovative chefs decide to do with naturally-provided options like these. Imagine bartenders running with something like this - already being toyed with at New York City's PDT lounge but not on the menu...yet.
I guess we'll have to wait and see. As for now, I'm sayin...Miracle Berry Sorbetto?! Imagine the possibilities!