Miracle Fruit

Several years ago I was in West Palm Beach Florida for a Gourmet magazine sales meeting staying at the Four Seasons Hotel. I just happened to know the chef, Hubert des Marais, from several projects we had worked on together and the first moment I had a break I sought him out so we could catch up. I wanted to see the garden he had planted on the property because I felt reasonably sure it would be unusual. I wasn’t disappointed.

It was filled with all kinds of tropical plants and fruits and I tasted quite a few – fresh green peppercorns still on the vine (just vaguely spicy), the flower of a gingerroot plant which was faintly reminiscent of the root, epazote (as Hubert suggested it tasted sort of like diesel oil) and miracle fruit which is a little red berry like fruit without a ton of flavor. However, it has the property of turning any sour item you taste after it into something terribly sweet.

Then we took a walk on the beach and just before we left the property and the pool bar, Hubert asked me if I would like something to drink. Since the sales meeting was officially over, I said I would like a glass of chardonnay. Well, it took me a few minutes to have my first sip and I thought right away how oddly sweet that chardonnay was, almost like a syrupy Riesling. I wondered if the bartender had given me the wrong wine. Then I remembered about the miracle fruit. I managed to choke that chardonnay down (after all I was celebrating) but it tasted that way for the whole 40 minute walk.

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