When Grandma said to take lemons and make lemonade, she probably didn't have synsepalum dulcificum fruit in mind.
But that's what the little berries, often known as "miracle fruit" do. One places a berry on the tongue and lets it disintegrate, so the glycoprotein inside coats the taste buds, and presto - for an hour or so, bitter fare tastes sweet.
Eliot Blume said he held tasting parties with the berries in college, and he's taken that tradition to the EFN Lounge. From 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Friday of every month, starting Dec. 11, EFN plans on hosting "Flavor Tripping" parties, where $12 will buy a berry and access to a buffet.
The berries are imported from West Africa, so Blume said EFN is using an online reservation system, although it will take a limited number of $15 admissions at the door.
"The two questions I get on the Web site are, 'Is it legal?' and 'Does it work?'" he said. "Yes, it is legal, and, yes, it does work."
Does it ever. At a tasting preview, the berry completely defanged Sour Patch Kids candies, making them taste more like Swedish Fish. Rice wine vinegar turned into something like sweet dessert wine. Tabasco sauce retained some of its kick, but under the berry's influence it was downgraded to roughly the level of a Buffalo wing.
Blume said a buffet containing all of those items will be available in a part of the club converted into a "tripateria," along with bites like sugarless lemon cupcakes, mojitos, blueberries and strawberries.
By doing some experiments, the EFN staff have come up with some unexpected flavor reactions, Blume said.
Goat cheese? "Cheesecake. And if it's warm, it has the consistency of frosting."
A mix of lemon sorbet and Guinness? "It's like a chocolate milk shake." Bottom-of-the-shelf tequila? "It's like Patron."
One note about that tequila - the berries may fool the tongue, but the lips, throat and sense of smell are left as vulnerable as ever.
"That's what we have to warn people about," Blume said. "If you hit the balsamic vinegar and the lemons really hard, you might feel it the morning after."