December 17, 2008


What if we could take a sour lemon and turn it into the sweetest, most delicious lemon candy you've ever tasted, make sour cream taste like cake frosting, dark beer taste like chocolate, and then switch it all back and make sugar taste like sand, dried fruit tastes like stale chewing gum, and honey tastes like oil? There are natural plant substances that can do all this---we will experience them and all the interesting and delectable things they do to our taste buds, under the guidance of ethnobotanist Nat Bletter.

Dr. Bletter has 10 years of experience in botany, documenting exotic fruits and vegetables, gathering food in the wild, herbal and traditional medicine, and exploring Asia, South America, Central America, and Africa. He has a Ph.D. in ethnobotany from the City University of New York and New York Botanical Garden, where he researched medicinal plants of Peru, Mali, and the Guatemalan Mayans, ethnobotany, taste-modifying plants, and stimulant plants such as cacao, which has spurred him to start a traditional-ingredient, high-antioxidant chocolate company Pure Origin.

Nicolas Mazzard, manager of Koppert Cress USA, will also give us a brief presentation of the micro-vegetables his company produces, as we sample sechuan buttons, a plant found in Africa that gives a tingling, at times numbing, feeling to your mouth.

NYU Chemistry Department