Miracle Berry: Fruit Dropping Party

Hey, psst…wanna by some Miracle fruit tablets? Have you ever heard of the Miracle berry and the hallucinogenic games it can play in your mouth? This is the coolest thing! The Miracle berry is a fruit originally grown in West Africa and has been used for centuries but of course the word of mouth spread only after the European dropped in for a visit/invasion. This berry makes sour foods taste sweet.

The berries contains a glycoprotein molecule called miraculin which coats and binds to the tongue’s taste buds when eaten. Science has extracted this molecule and successfully created a edible tablet which does the same thing than eating the fruit. Scientists have made the tablet yet they still don’t know why the phenomenon occurs. The one thing they know for sure is that miraculin messes around with your taste bud receptors.

Ever since I read about the Miracle Berry I have been so eager to try it. After some online shopping I found miracle fruit tablets at a very reasonable price. Finally the packet arrived in the mail. Right away I sent out an email to invite a select group of friends to my Fruit Dropping Party.

Why is it called that? Best guess I have is you are meant to eat acidic food so I assume is is a play of dropping acid? Such parties are also nicknamed flavor tripping parties. Let me assure you miracle fruit tablets are not a drug and are perfectly legal. It is however a subject of controversy as well, see last paragraph.

We were a party of 8 guinea pigs for this tasting experiment. Everyone brought a food to contribute. We all took a tablet and let it dissolve in our mouth, making sure we swished it around the whole tongue. The tablet itself tasted quite sour ironically. Then we all felt a earthy/powdery residue on the tongue. Someone volunteered to take the first lemon bite. It worked! We all jumped on the acidic buffet. See Karyn here bite into a lemon…

It was the strangest food spread I had ever seen: oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, tamarind, unripe mango, tomatoes, strawberries, pickled vegetables, sourdough bread, goat cheese, sour cream, salt and vinegar chips, salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, a sour candy called Toxic Waste, red wine and Guiness.

Not everyone reacted the exact same way to all foods but all found foods unusually sweet. A lemon still tastes like a lemon…just really sweet. Same for all other citrus. Tomatoes and unripe mangoes were so sweet ans strawberries were almost to sugary. The sour cream, the bread and goat cheese only had a slight effect but there was an unusual sweetness to it. Vinegary foods were less tangy but still had a bit of kick to them. The toxic candies were still sour..perhaps because it is a chemical sourness? Guiness had a more chocolaty taste to it. Bit I think the biggest shock for all was red wine: it tasted like Kool-Aid made with 5 cups of sugar, it was unbelievable.

We just ate in amazement for about 40 min until we started noticing the effect of the tablets was slowly wearing off. The effects can last between 15 to 60 min. At this point some guest were really happy I had bought antacid tablets. You flavor perception made be different but your stomach sees no difference! Oh boy! Many had a slightly sensitive stomach the next day. But it is totally worth it once to try. We had such a blast.

I highly recommend this experience. It is not expensive so get some and have your own Fruit Dropping Party. Just make sure to supply a bottle of antacid tablets too!

By the way Miracle Fruit tablets are great for those lacking appetite due to the metallic taste resulting from chemotherapy. Diabetic patients and dieters can use it as a way to calm a sugar craving without the calories or playing with their sugar levels.

But the US government has put a stop to any such research. It is legal to grow,buy, sell and consume Miracle berries on their own. It cannot be added legally to foods though because the FDA suddenly decided to classify it as a possible food additive instead of a food (as first planned). Why? Well there are stories that the sugar industry was not to happy about the whole situation. All we do know for sure is that in 1974 the one company developing miraculin for the diabetic market had to close its doors when the FDA slapped the food additive label. Such a label involves years of research and a whole lot of money, more then the Miraculin Company could ever dream of having. Did I mention too that it is a fact the offices of the Miraculin Company were ransacked not log before the FDA stepped in? Hmm, make your own conclusions.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Dinner in a Can

There is a weird fad going on. Canning foods that do not belong in a can. This started off when a friend sent me an article on canned sandwiches – Candwich

So I had to go online and find other items that do not belong, in my mind, in a can….enjoy or be grossed out! This is not a post about weird foods in a can, just weird canned normal food.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Space Soda

Yes, I even managed to get a Thursday’s Thingamajig post out of my trip!

I was quite amused with the space food displays at the National Air and Space Museum, particularly with the soft drink cans. Think about: someone actually sat down and thought up of a way to drink soda safely in space. Safely? Did you not know opening your normal can in a spaceship could be a question of life or death? The science info was hard to find and I don’t claim I would a science court case with my findings, but…

– If you had a coke can outside the space ship the pressure of space and your can would not be compatible. So uncompatible your can would explode into tiny aluminum shrapnels. Imagine now these fragments flying and damaging shuttles or space suits, not a place you want a tear in your outfit!

– What about opening your can in the shuttle? I am copy pasting this one…If you sensibly open the can inside the pressurized cabin compartment then the gas escaping from the can’s ring-pull will project the can in the opposite direction. Of course, you usually hold the can firmly tight when opening it, and so the whole system of yourself and the coke can is shot through the cabin. Eventually you figure out how to point the top of the can straight up and position your feet on the ground. You can open your can and absorb the pressure with your legs. Then you then come across the problem that the ring-pull is not perfectly symmetrical. The gas escapes from one side faster than the other. The coke can may twist from your grasp, spraying liquid sugar in a Catherine Wheel of gunk. Alternatively, you may be the one to start spinning.

The picture above depicts the 1st of 3 total attempts to drink soda in space. According to Wiki in 1985, Coca-Cola and Pepsi were launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-51-F. The companies had designed special cans (officially the Carbonated Beverage Dispenser Evaluation payload or CBDE) to test packaging and dispensing techniques for use in zero G conditions. The experiment was classified a failure by the shuttle crew, primarily due to the lack of both refrigeration and gravity. But on the lighter side of space, floating “soda balls” did provide a source of entertainment for the astronauts.

Only thing confirmed here: Coke and Pepsi will do anything to reach marketing’s new final frontier: SPACE.

Vacation Eatz: Washington DC part 2

Yes part 1 was just the was my evening arrival and morning. This post is on the afternoon and evening. OK so it’s like 100 F in a big city. Hello museums with lots of A/C. I did 2 museums (quickly) that day. The first one was the National Museum of American History. Lots of fun and important exhibitions reviewing the past influences and happenings that shaped the USA.

One totally unexpected but fabulous exhibition was Julia Child’s actual kitchen from her home in Massachusetts. Apparently she donated it to the Smithsonian in 2001 when she moved to California. Julia cooked in this kitchen for 42 years! This kitchen alone influenced the way of eating of a whole nation. I stitched pics together to give the best 3d effect I could, bare with the imperfections.

She was apparently a knife fiend. And lots of copper pots too.

Next museum was the National Air and Space Museum. Here you will see the history of flight and space exploration attempted, failed and achieved. It is a hugely popular museum with lots of people. Be prepared! But it is something to see. I card less for the flight part but really enjoyed the space side.

And yes even this museum had food items on the display menu! There was the occasional brief comment on airline food and a statue of a ‘stewardess’ holding a tray.  Ice building totally unrelated but wanted to show you the pic. It was near my friend’s house.

Now space food….on display…was unexpected. Coke, Pepsi, brownies, nuts,prepared stews, fruits. The upper left pic above this text is the kitchen on Skylab. Little teaser: tomorrow’s Thursday’s Thingamajig will be related to space food so come back to see that.

On Apollo 10, semisolid foods became regular items. With a supply of chicken, ham, and tuna salads, along with breads contained in sealed, nitrogen-filled packages, the astronauts could prepare fresh sandwiches. Beginning with Apollo 13, a canteen was added to the astronauts spacesuits that would allow the crew members to drink while they worked on the moon. The Apollo 15 astronauts carried apricot food bars for a snack during increasingly long work periods on the lunar surface. Each astronaut meal was individually wrapped in foil and color-coded.

Back on earth it was time for supper. My hosts decided to take off the beaten path all the way to Fairfax Virginia where a favorite Thai restaurant of theirs is: Cee Fine Thai Dining. How can we not like this place CEE is Cheap Ethnic Eatz acronym too.

It really was a great meal, if not a bit too SPICY (OMG) even for me. I am not new to Thai but this was hot! Thanks god for the Thai Ice Tea (dairy calming down the fire). All 3 of us are foodies and all 3 of us wanted to taste everything. That suited me just fine! We ordered Tom Yum Soup, Jacketed Shrimp and Pot Stickers for starters. Entrees were Drunken Noodles, Panang Chicken Curry and one I cannot remember but it was seafood mix. If you are in that area I recommend this restaurant.

Keep on checking daily….

Thursday’s Thingamajig will be related to space food.

Friday’s post begins the North Carolina leg of my trip.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: what the heck?

Back to our regularly scheduled program….almost. I skipped last week’s Thursday edition as I was on vacation. So many food items I bought on my dining room furniture now and pics to sort on the USB key (food trip post coming, be patient). This week I am back but not to introduce you to some new/unknown kitchen gadget. Oh no! This week I will show you 2 pictures of food products I encountered on my trip that made me shout out : “What the Heck”? I am using the nice word online, I did use the bad ones in reality.

Item no.1 Apple juiceS

A bottle of Minute Maid Apple Juice…with apple juice concentrate from how many countries? US, Argentina, Austria, Chile, China, Germany AND Turkey. What? Talk about globalization and saving a buck to get cheaper outsourced juices. What are the farming, pesticides and labor laws in those countries?

Item no.2 100% Pure Natural Syrup

Served with my pancake at Cracker Barrel. OK this one I had to laugh so hard. The print is too small on the bottle but it does say 55% Maple syrup and 45% Cane syrup. I mean come on…I am from Quebec, the Kingdom of Maple syrup. I eat my pancakes with 100% Maple syrup, period!

We actually have a Quebec slang for the fake stuff: sirop de poteau

…which translates to pole syrup – as in the old wooden telephone or electricity poles – meaning diluted maple syrup or corn syrup imitation (like the Aunt Jemima stuff).

But wait till you find out what I did do with that syrup! I will tell you very soon in a future post…but my friend literally FLIPPED OUT on me and looked around in shame to make sure no fellow Southerner should have witnessed my sacrilegious action!

Incidental Cream Cheese Noodles

Welcome to the third International Incident Party! This month the theme is NOODLES.

International

I decided this month to go completely off the beaten track. I wanted my dish to be exclusively about the noodles and nothing else. Today we will be taking a look at food chemistry, or more precisely molecular gastronomy, and even more specifically a hydrocolloid recipe.

What does hydrocolloid mean? A hydrocolloid is defined as a type of mixture in which one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another by means of  water. Examples of hydrocolloids agar-agar, carrageenan, gelatin and pectin. Yes your Jell-O dessert is a hydrocolloid. Hydrocolloids are employed in food mainly to influence texture or viscosity, usually to gel or thicken.

Now get out our Methyl Cellulose out and let’s play because this is the hydrocolloid we will use for the recipe. Methyl Cellulose is a thickener and emulsifier  that forms a viscous solution or gel. Now here is the really weird and cool part: Methyl Cellulose sets when hot and melts when cold. Bet you did not expect a chemistry class in a food post now did you!

So back to noodle making. We will take a non-solid substance, in this case cream cheese, and mix it with Methyl Cellulose in a water solution to gelify it in the shape of a noodle. How cool is that! On to the recipe….

Cream Cheese Noodles

370 ml cream cheese
160 ml water
1.3 grams Methyl Cellulose

  1. In a saucepan heat water to 85 C and vigorously whisk in the Methyl Cellulose.
  2. Add to room temperature cream cheese and stir well to combine.
  3. Place bowl atop an ice bowl (lots of ice and cold water) and whisk until cream cheese mixture is at 10 C
  4. Store for 2 hours in refrigerator.
  5. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or the like.
  6. Bring to a boil 2 liters of water and let simmer.
  7. Pipe in cream cheese  to make noodles.
  8. Drain as soon as the noodles have become firm, about 30 seconds.

And……it did not work 🙁 Oh well I guess my first attempt at real molecular gastronomy failed. They keep their shape until you touch them though. And since I have been so busy and I literally finished my first try 30 min before the time this will have to do for the posting. Will definitely try again though!

Out comes a new pan to cook some with plain old regular pasta….served with cream cheese on it lol.

Here is the list of the party goers!

And also remember to stay tune for next IIP in July!

Wordless Product: Batter Blaster

At $6.99 for about 7-8 pancakes its not worth it regularly…but it was fun to try. They were good but too much sugar in the batter.