Miracle Berry Tasting

The Harvard Crimson covered one of our many miracle berry tastings that we’re hosting this year. Be on the lookout for one in Annenberg this spring.

The article is below and here.

Students Taste Miracle Berry
Food Literacy Project asks students to experiment with their taste buds

“Bite it,” Trisha R. Paul ’13 said, “and let it swirl around your tongue for a few minutes.”

As Calvin K. W. Chin ’14 popped a crimson-colored, almond-shaped berry into his mouth, his friend James D. Carey ’14 cautiously nibbled on a wedge of lime.

“Whoa, I could eat a whole lime, dude,” Carey said, grabbing another wedge from the platter.

Under the dim chandelier lights in Winthrop dining hall, students gathered last night to try synsepalum dulcificum—more commonly known as the ‘miracle berry’—a small fruit that makes sour foods taste sweet. Native to West Africa, the berries contain a protein called miraculin that binds with the taste receptors on the tongue and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids.

Sponsored by the Food Literacy Project, the event allowed students to play with their taste buds by causing apple cider vinegar to taste like “the nectar of God,” as Rupak K. Bhuyan ’13 put it.

“Miracle berries react chemically with saliva and make sour things taste sweet,” said Paul, who serves as Winthrop House FLP Rep.

Paul and Elan Q. Nguyen ’13, the Lowell House FLP Rep, cut lemons, limes, and kiwis into bite-sized slices and arranged them on an oval platter next to a bowl of apple cider vinegar and plain yogurt.

After coating their tongues with the berries for about two minutes, students tried wedges of limes and lemons, scoops of plain yogurt, and even spoonfuls of vinegar.

“The lime has a Sweet’N Low aftertaste,” Julian Moll-Rocek ’12 said.

“And the yogurt tastes like sweetened yogurt,” Christa M. Simone ’12 added.

But the miracle berry did not show its miraculous effect on Shyam S. Vichare ’12.

“My tongue is about to get destroyed because of all the acid,” he said, squinting his eyes as he took a lemon out of his mouth.

“One of the goals of FLP is to teach something new to people and cultivate awareness and appreciation for food,” Nguyen said.

In the past, FLP has hosted a spring roll workshop, a top chef competition among the Houses, a chocolate tasting, and a dining hall kitchen tour.

—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at janeseo@college.harvard.edu.

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