B2 Reading Gapped Text Exam 13

Tongue trickster

Never mind the tongue twister – here’s the tongue trickster.
Frank Parsons reports on the craze for a strange type of fruit.
Imagine drinking a glass of pure, freshly-squeezed lemon juice with nothing added. It’s enough to turn your stomach.

I watch as one-by-one they down the drink, tentative at first, and then smiling broadly as they declare, “It tastes just like grandma’s lemonade.”
Fifty or so people crowd around a table on the rooftop terrace of Larry’s small but swish apartment. I edge my way forward and arrive at the table that positively groans with the array of food piled high.

My host appears at my shoulder, and says, “Here, have this.” This turns out to be a small red berry about the size of a blueberry, but slightly elongated, the shape of a coffee bean.
He looks at the expression on my face. “It’s known as the miracle fruit. Just put it in your mouth,” he instructs, “and chew it slightly to separate the pulp from its seed.

I obey his command and then discreetly spit the remains into my handkerchief while his glance is averted.
“Done?” he asks, turning back to me. I nod. He grabs a glass of the lemon juice from a passing waiter and offers it to me. “Now drink.” I take a small sip, and close my eyes. The guests are right.

My host states knowingly I have experienced first-hand the phenomenon of the Synsepalum Dulcificum, or the Miracle Fruit. This small berry has the amazing effect of causing bitter or sour foods to taste as sweet as sugar candy.

When it comes into contact with acidic foods, like vinegar, it starts to behave like a sweetener.
A native fruit of West Africa, the fruit was discovered by western explorers around 1725.

Left uncultivated, the miracle fruit grows in bushes reaching six metres in height. It produces crops twice yearly, usually after the rainy season, and has attractive white flowers.
Despite being around for centuries it is only in recent years that the miracle fruit has been cultivated as a potential sweetener. There has been some albeit limited interest from the diet food industry. Not only that – the fruit can aid patients receiving medical treatment that may leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

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