Miracle berries (or “M” berries as they’re called on the tough streets) are a magical fruit that turn your taste buds upside down; when eaten, miraculin molecules bind to your flavor receptors and confuse your entire mouth, causing foods that would ordinarily be perceived as incredibly sour (or spicy, depending on how they’re prepared) to instead taste super sweet. It’s possible you’ve already seen internet videos in which people consume this mystical berry in tablet-form and then proceed to eat things like lemons, yogurt and even vinegar (all in the name of culinary LOLs); while those kinds of basic flavor-tripping experiments are all well and good, I thought we’d take it to the next level by seeing what would happen while flavor-tripping at this year’s Village Voice Choice Eats.
In order to be certain the tablets were working, the very funny Bronwyn Isaac of The Frisky accompanied me as a non-flavor-tripping constant. We started our journey with beers, and it became pretty quickly apparent that the tablet I’d eaten a few minutes earlier had already kicked in, because it turned my Stella into a glass of sparkling cider. IT WAS TIME TO GET TASTING.
We started off with Genuine Superette’s Baja slider, which was dressed with Cotija cheese and a jalapeno mayo, both of which set off my temporarily impaired taste buds and told me that (although there was a trace of heat left from the jalapenos) I was eating a dessert burger. You might think that sounds disgusting, but I actually didn’t mind it; I’m big into those weird sweet ‘n savory combinations, and this more than achieved that odd balance. (Bronwyn wasn’t very into the burger, and I wondered if she’d have been more into it had she been flavor-tripping. WE MAY NEVER KNOW.)
Other bizarrely sweet-yet-savory items we both tasted (and liked, though for different flavor reasons, clearly) included Queens Comfort’s scallion + bacon mac ‘n cheese, the grilled bacon w/ peanut butter and jalapeno jelly from Quality Eats, the “Reubenese” from Boomwich (ft. pastrami, sauerkraut, Chinese mustard and a pretzel roll), the spicy cold noodles from Spicy Bampa and the mussel tacos from Black Ant. (I attempted to sample almost everything, but (as usual) I boycotted the shrimp rolls from Luke’s Lobster because WHAT EVEN IS THE POINT?!)
You would think that after about an hour of eating what were essentially savory desserts (thanks to the flavor-tripping effect, of course) I’d be in the mood to break away from all the sweetness, but you’d be wrong, because the sugary booths were calling my name VERY LOUDLY, the loudest being Doughnut Plant’s adorable tower of bite-size donuts; there I ate a glazed pistachio mini donut, and it was a refreshing feeling of “Finally! This tastes sweet because it’s supposed to!” Other highlights from the *actual* dessert genre included the cupcakes from Butter Lane (they never disappoint, really…), chocolate babka from Breads Bakery, and (despite having already tasted all of the available flavors because I go there ALL THE TIME) the ice cream from OddFellows.
Other observations: some places did run out of food before we could get to them, but that just kind of always happens at food events like this. (Also, we wished more people had been taking advantage of the space to dance // THE TUNES WERE GOOD.)
At a certain point I hit a wall tasting-wise, and Bronwyn had to get going to a comedy show in Astoria, so we called it quits. Would I recommend flavor-tripping to the average Choice Eats-goer? I mean, it depends! I had a fun time doing it because I go to this event every year, and I felt like I could afford to change up my angle this time around. If you want a completely accurate sampling of what’s out there, though, then maybe save the M berries for another time. (Or if you’re a champion eater, sample everything once and then go back for seconds after popping a tablet!)
Have you flavor-tripped before? What did you think?! (And where should we flavor-trip next?!)