But after chewing the fruit and rubbing the pulp against the tongue, the berry, known by a promising name — “miracle fruit” or Synsepalum dulcificum — releases a sweetening potency that alters the taste buds.
For about 15 to 30 minutes, everything sour is sweet.
Lemons lose their zing and taste like candy. Oranges become sickeningly sweet. Hot sauce that usually burns the tongue tastes like honey barbecue sauce that scorches as it trickles down the throat.
Through word of mouth, these miracle fruits have inspired “taste tripping” parties, where foodies and curious eaters pay $10 to $35 to try the berries, which are native to West Africa.
About five months ago, a Miami, Florida, hospital began studying whether the fruit’s sweetening effects can restore the appetite of cancer patients whose chemotherapy treatments have left them with dulled taste buds.
“What happens in patients is the food tastes so metallic and bland, it becomes repulsive,” said
Dr. Mike Cusnir, a lead researcher on the project and oncologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Most of the patients undergoing chemotherapy have weight loss. Then they cut further into their diet and then this furthers the weight loss. It causes malnutrition, decreased function of the body and electrolyte imbalance.”
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