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Taste 'Miracle Berry' That Turns Sour to Sweet at East Village Event

By Serena Solomon | March 26, 2014 7:30am
 "Miracle berries" are known to mask the sour taste of lemons and limes.
"Miracle berries" are known to mask the sour taste of lemons and limes.
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Robyn Lee

EAST VILLAGE — Turn lemons into lemonade — or at least trick your taste buds — at a party in the East Village this Wednesday.

A networking event at the Village Pourhouse, on Third Avenue at East 11th Street, will feature "flavor tripping," in which people eat a special berry that can flip a bitter or sour flavor into a burst of sweetness.

Attendees will receive "miracle berry" tablets intended to make beer taste like liquid chocolate, turn hot sauce into doughnut glaze and lemons into candy, organizers said.

"Instead of throwing the normal open bar and networking event, we wanted to throw something that is interesting and engaging," said Kelsey Silver, whose company Eventurously is co-hosting the flavor-tripping soiree that's aimed at developing community in the startup world.

"It's a little more exciting conversation than, 'It's going to snow tomorrow.'"

Those who buy $10 tickets will receive two miracle berry tablets along with a range of food and drinks to test their magic, Silver said. All participants need to do is pop the tablets into their mouths, let them dissolve and then experiment with flavors.

The effects of each tablet or berry last for as long as 45 minutes, according to supplier Charles Lee, from MBerry. The Arizona-based company sells the berry, which is also known as sideroxylon dulcificum, in either fresh, tablet or plant form.  Some MBerry products are stocked in Garden of Eden grocery stores in New York, Lee said.

The miracle berry, native to West Africa, has been changing the sensation of taste for centuries. It broke onto the New York food scene in 2008, with flavor-tripping parties popping up around the city, according to The New York Times.

The berry's flavor-masking agent is a protein called miraculin, according to nutritionist Cathy Wong. It alters the size of sweet receptors on the tongue so they respond with a sensation of sweetness when they come in contact with acidic or bitter foods.

In addition to serving as a conversation piece at parties, the berry has also been used to aid dieters, giving sugar-hungry taste buds the sense of eating something sweet without the calories. It can also be a useful tool for parents in the dinnertime battle over vegetables with children, according to the MBerry website.

"People are using it as a dietary supplement. They put it in their coffee," said Silver, who added that 100 people had signed up for the event as of Tuesday.

The flavor-tripping event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 at the Village Pourhouse at 63 Third Ave. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased online or at the door.