2008_12_miracle.jpgOne of the bigger food stories of this year was about miracle fruit, a strange red berry that gets chewed and swooshed around one’s mouth for a minute or so, temporarily changing taste buds in the process. For about an hour afterwards, a substance in the berry called miraculin causes bitter and sour foods to taste super sweet. In May, a Times article kick started a mini miracle fruit frenzy. Suddenly, it seemed like the city was awash with miracle fruit services offering front door delivery, with bike messengers headed off in all directions carrying $5 hits of the stuff packed in baggies.

We covered miracle fruit here 14 months before the Times did, and were excited to find out that next week, ethnobotanist Nat Bletter will be talking about (and providing samples of) miracle fruit at the monthly meeting of the Experimental Cuisine Collective. The group fashions science as a focal point for their ongoing conversations about food and cooking. Past topics at the free monthly workshops have included ice cream that stretches like rubber and the sense umami. Along with miracle fruit next week, Bletter will also demonstrate the effects of two other taste-altering plants—the enigmatically named sugar destroyer and toothache plant. Perhaps the next annus mirabilis belongs to one of these little guys.

The bad news is that ECC director Anne McBride has informed us that signup for Nat Bletter’s miracle fruit demo is already well over capacity; meeting max out around 40 people. The good news: the ECC forges on next month with a presentation about compression and carbonization with the pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini and the FCI’s Dave Arnold. The latter is currently on newsstands, appearing in Esquire’s ‘Genius’ issue (he’s also the guy who turned pickles into martini delivery systems). More information, including signup instructions for all future workshops, is available on the ECC’s website.