There are lots of things I love to do with lemons, including making limoncello and using them as a natural cleaner, but eating them raw is usually not one of them. They’re too sour for me, although I know some people who love to suck on them.

But there was one time when I ate a lemon and it tasted as sweet as candy. I had been treated to something that contained miracle fruit, a West African berry that temporarily alters your taste buds and makes everything sweeter.

It was an astonishing experience. After having a wonderful meal, our host at a private dinner gave us some lemons to taste. They tasted exactly like lemons. Then we ate something containing miracle fruit. After a short while, we tasted the lemons again. They were sweet, like candy. It was amazing.

We also took a sip of the wonderful red wine we had been drinking with dinner, and that had changed too — but not for the better. The taste of the wine was decidedly unpleasant.

What was so amazing was that neither the lemons nor the wine had changed. It was our taste buds that had been altered for about 30 minutes or so. Once the miracle fruit wore off, our taste buds went back to normal and so did the taste of the lemons and the wine.

There’s now a coffee shop in Chicago called Berrista, which has a menu built around this miracle fruit, or miracle berry as the restaurant refers to it as. The shop is using the berry as an ingredient in a small madeleine cake, which customers eat first. Their taste buds are altered so there's no need for sugar and artificial sweeteners in the restaurant's foods. Donuts, baked without sugar or artificial sweeteners, taste rich, waffles don’t need to be drenched in syrup to be sweet, and low-fat yogurt tastes like cheesecake.

The evening I tried miracle fruit, we talked about how this could benefit people with dietary restrictions like diabetics or even those trying to lose weight. Chef Homaro Cantu of Berrista sees it as as that and much more. According to Smithsonian magazine, Cantu sees it as a solution for hunger in the developing world. Bland or bitter foods that are digestible but not considered edible because of their taste could be made palatable.

If I hadn’t tried miracle fruit for myself, I might be skeptical. But after the experience I had with it, I can see that there’s a lot of potential here. It's exciting.

Have you had the opportunity to try miracle fruit and its miraculous transformation of taste buds? What was your experience?

Related on MNN:

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.