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Flavor Tripping in Snider Plaza

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The last miracle fruitWhile Miss Nancy was off in high-falutin’ Aspen, there was still fun to be had in Big D. Saturday night, Flavors from Afar owners Gary and Nancy Krabill invited 30 friends and media types to try Synsepalum dulcificum, the “miracle fruit” that has had people buzzing since The New York Times published an article about it last month. The berry tricks your tongue into tasting sweet instead of sour—jump for a breakdown of the flavor trip and photos of the party.

First up, guests were asked to sample foods like sea beans and salt and vinegar chips to have something to compare post-berry flavors with. Then Nancy Krabill doled out the miracle fruit to the trippers (only one per customer, which was plenty for most of us—one lady requested another when she decided hers “didn’t work”).

Nancy Krabill with balsamic vinegar samplesWe were told to chew the pulp of the berries and let it coat the inside of our mouths. The berry has a grape-like quality to it, very mellow and subtly sweet, but after chewing the pulp for 40 seconds, it delivered a salty kick that ebbed into a slightly sour finish.

There were communion cups filled with Calabrian Viagru and Tabasco, which guests threw back like shooters (one guest was shocked by how hot the Tabasco was; it should be said that the berries take away the sourness of food, but nothing takes the heat out of Tabasco shots). With the berries, Tabasco has a fruity undercurrent that evens out the usually vinegar-heavy taste.

Other hits at the party were tomatoes, which tasted like bon bons; goat cheese, which many thought had a cheesecake flavor; balsamic vinegar, which went down like a night cap; and—above all—lemons.

People lined up at the bowl of lemons like it was the best thing they’d ever tasted. The lemons were delicious, but in a Country Time lemonade kind of way: It had the semi-sour flavor of lemon, but without the acidic zing. Much of the fruit, especially pineapples and strawberries, was so sweet it was practically inedible. Imagine taking a bowl of perfectly ripe berries and dumping 5 cups of Splenda on top. You get the picture.

Gary Krabill and guestsOther flavor failures were red wine, which one guest likened to Manischewitz, and prosecco, which was so overripe and sweet that it tasted as if it had been opened the week before. But it’s worth noting that Guinness goes perfectly with the berries.

For me, the biggest surprise was the salt and vinegar chips. They tasted as if someone had drizzled maple syrup on top. If I hadn’t seen Gary open the bag, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

That’s probably the most perplexing thing about berry tripping—the food looks and smells the same, but once it’s in your mouth, the flavors morph into something unrecognizable.

The Krabills hope to have another miracle fruit event, but Gary says there are about 1,600 orders on his supplier’s waiting list. It’s worth the wait.

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