Oberlin Blogs

Flavor Trippin'

December 14, 2008

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

I know we're Oberlin College and we're known for trying crazy things.

How about flavor trippin'?

I'm a member of Harkness co-op, a wonderful living and dining co-op that accommodates over 100 dining members. On the weekends, our normal workchart is left in the dust for a new kind of experience: the special meal. In larger co-ops such as Harkness, special meals occur for Saturday dinners and Sunday brunch, and the meal's cooks and cleanup crews are rotating. Every member is required to cook one special meal and aid in cleaning up after one every semester. It's another great opportunity to flex your cooking muscles and to bond together with other members to create a spectacular meal.

This weekend held the last of our semester's special meals, and today's delicious brunch was well-timed. It's reading period, the massive crunch time before finals when the library is open 24/7 and every single class, ExCo and student group on campus tries to fit in one final paper, performance or meeting. I have a movie due by the end of this afternoon for a screening this evening; I got up early to put the finishing touches on the credits. I'm writing this post as it finishes its last processings. Let's just say that I really needed a good meal.

Lunches are served in co-ops at 12:20pm, and by 12:15, there were a number of people gathered around platters of sliced fruits, cheeses, and breads. It looked delicious... but we were told we couldn't eat yet. It is an extremely sadistic thing to show us food and tell us we can't partake. I was ready to dive in. But there was a reason.

The meal's point was two-fold: there was simple, good food, but some of it could be enhanced by miracle fruit, which we had the option of trying.

Now, before you think this was a crazy tripped out drugtastic experience, I have to tell you that I know a lot about miracle fruit, and it's no drug. It came onto my radar over the summer, through a number of food blogs. There is a type of protein in the miracle fruit that binds to our tastebuds and it causes bitter and sour foods to taste sweet. In theory, it could be used as a diabetic or no calorie sweetener, but the FDA hasn't done enough testing on it for it to be incorporated into food products. Think of it as one of those herbal things that may make you feel better though no one has proven it... but more fun.

The meal was, on a whole, spicy or sour; both flavors that would be enhanced by the miracle fruit. There was apprehension and curiosity mixed in with a few people who had tried the miracle fruit before. It's made a huge comeback in the last year or so, among foodies and non-foodies alike, so I expected to see some miracle fruit vets at the meal.

We were encouraged to taste each item first, then allow the tablet to dissolve on our tongues and taste the items again. The members of my table deemed the lemonade undrinkable, the grapefruits mouthpuckeringly sour, the hot sauce unbearable. Someone came around with the concentrated miracle fruit tablet and told us to wait until it disappeared before resampling our food.

About 90% of the co-op had their mouths full, and a hush fell. It was the quietest meal I had been to... anywhere, ever. It was astounding. Gradually, as the tablets disappeared, the taste testing began again. Small murmurs of amazement began at every table as the lemonade became sweeter, the grapefruits simulated candy, and the hot sauce tasted of sweet peppers. Everyone was in awe.

What was my flavor trip like? Well, I actually didn't do it. I live for sour things, and for me, this special meal of lemonade, pickles, sour raspberry sorbet and various fruits and cheese with savory bread was catered for my tastebuds. Making it sweeter would have spoiled everything.

Similar Blog Entries