The beads of sweat on my brow were a constant reminder of the tropical heat. I was in far north Queensland. An Aboriginal healer named Mooksie had shown us poisonous bush plums earlier that day, which, according to my untrained eye, were indistinguishable from the edible kind. So, while I was happy to leave native Australian fruit firmly on their trees, the day was all about fruit. I’ll get to the fruit shortly.
We then traveled as far north as we were allowed to go, to Cape Tribulation. The scenery was breathtaking. The green sugarcane fields stretched as far as the eye could see, and on the horizon there were hills covered with dense lush rain-forest.
We were going to the Cape Tribulation Farm, which grows over fifty types of exotic fruit. When we arrived, the sun felt like it was at its hottest. Under a veranda, which felt surprisingly cool, an assortment of about a dozen tropical fruits sat on a wooden table.
The person working at the farm let us taste each fruit – soursop, black sapote, star fruit, sapodilla, mangosteen, jakfruit, and the most interesting of them all: the Miracle Fruit.
The Miracle Fruit
At the end of our fruit tasting, we were given a wedge of lime and a small red berry which was about the size of a bean. Needless to say, I was disappointed. “A wedge of lime?”, I thought.
We were then asked to put the little red berry in our mouths and break the surface of the fruit with our teeth, and then roll the berry around over our tongue for three minutes.
After the three minutes were up, we were asked to spit out the berry’s seed and bite into our wedge of lime. To my surprise, the lime tasted sweet as though it was covered in white sugar. There was no trace of sourness or bitterness, only sweetness. Mind-bending.
The little red bean sized berry which we were given, and which made the lime taste sweet, is called the “Miracle Fruit”. The sweetness is caused by the presence of miraculin in the berry, which binds to the sweet receptors in the tongue. The effect lasts about an hour.
At the conclusion of the fruit tasting, and much to my delight, we were offered a Miracle Fruit to take home. I put a berry in my pocket, and pondered the whiskey-based possibilities. Immediately, I thought: “I wonder how Jack Daniel’s would taste after eating a Miracle Fruit”?
Our Nissan X-Trail vroomed all the way back to our room at the Sheraton Port Douglas, where a half bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 was waiting for me. As though there was some kind of divine endorsement of my plan, Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis played on the radio on the way to our resort (in case you don’t know, Memphis is a city in Tennessee and Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey).
Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 always has a consistently delicious flavour, with plenty of vanilla, toffee, caramel, wood spices (especially cinnamon) and toasted oak. I often also tend to taste in the whiskey zesty lemon and orange, which would come from the distillate. So, I wondered whether the taste of the whisky would transform if I could not taste the sour and bitter components of the whiskey as much as usual, or at all.
After eating a Miracle Fruit, Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 tasted of crystalline brown sugar, sweet milk chocolate, sultana and super sweet caramel. Perhaps it was my mind playing tricks on me, or perhaps it was my miraculin laced tongue.
If a mind-bending experience is on the cards, and you happen to find yourself in far north Queensland, give the folks at Cape Tribulation farm a visit, and see where your taste buds take you…