I'm a 36 year old librarian who loves to run, read, do yoga and hang out with my friends and family. I ran the 2008 & 2009 Boston Marathon for Team Eye & Ear to support the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Go Team Eye & Ear!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Durian Durian

A couple years ago, one of my co-workers asked me if I had ever heard of a durian. When I said that I hadn't, she launched into a horrific description of the fruit's smell- going so far as to compare it to "rotting flesh" and how it would be unwise to eat one indoors because the durian's mighty stink would hang around for hours. After listening to her, I was equally repulsed and curious to try a durian, but they're not readily available at your local Shaw's. On Sunday, Nick and I were at the South Bay Center, which has a Super 88. Normally I don't have any reason to go in the Super 88; however, something made me think of the durian and I told Nick I wanted to go and buy one. After several failed attempts to find someone who could direct us to the durians, we found a cardboard box full of the spiked fruit sandwiched between crates of dead fish on ice in the seafood section. I picked one up and smelled it, and I could detect a mild inoffensive cantaloupe odor. Since I had no idea how to choose one, I grabbed one on top and asked Nick to carry it to the counter, because it was surprisingly heavy.

Nick was extremely wary of the durian

On Tuesday, I lugged the increasingly ripe (read: squishy) durian into work, and Wednesday afternoon we found an empty office and dove into the durian. At this point, it was so ripe that we were able to cut into the flesh with a plastic knife. Having prepared myself for the worst smell ever, I was mildly disappointed when at first it really didn't smell that strong or bad. I put my nose up close and inhaled, which in retrospect might not have been the smartest idea given the durian's reputation. It smelled like gas. Not the kind you put into your car, but the kind you pass. The texture was like tapioca pudding and the durian tasted like it smelled. Needless to say, I don't think the next drink craze will be the duritini.
Looks like a pineapple, tastes like a foot
After everyone had sampled the durian, the next problem was where to toss it since, due to the smell, I couldn't leave it in the office's kitchen garbage. I gathered up the leaky, lumpy mess, wrapped it in the plastic bag and walked it down five flights of stairs (I didn't want to risk stinking up the elevator with it) and threw it out in a garbage can in Faneuil Hall. Hopefully it cleared some of the tourists out of there.


Anonymous said...

That's the problem with beginners on Durian.

You should never start with a ripe one. Especially one that is so ripe that you can peel through the skin! (never even heard of that).

There are also various kinds of Durian. The ones that are less ripe, came from Thailand and are quite crunchy, are very sweet.

Unfortunately, most people start with the very ripe kind of Durian, which is like you described -- mushy, stincky and actually a bit spicy..

Anonymous said...

Hi - As someone who grew up in Southeast Asia and who has eaten durian for years, I can totally appreciate how it's an acquired taste (to say the least) and can be offensive in smell to people whose cuisine and palates don't include very pungent foods. That said, the disgust and value judgments in what you wrote strikes me as insensitive and narrow-minded. Lots of cultures and cuisines include stuff that can be off-putting to others - fried grasshoppers in African and Thai cultures, yak butter tea in Tibetan culture, haggis from Scotland. But just because we don't like a certain food and cannot understand how others can tolerate its taste/smell doesn't give us license to disparage it. Durian may be completely repulsive to you, but it is one of the most beloved fruits in Southeast Asia. People eat it, organize parties around it, drive dozens of miles to buy the best kind, and call it the king of fruits. You don't have to like it, but please don't write so dismissively about something that is central to others' culture.

Liz said...

Hey, good for you for still being interested and giving it a try. I think we can save "insensitive and narrow minded" to use on someone else. Thanks to the "beginners on Durian" comment for giving a little guidance.

swift said...

Seriously anonymous? If our blogger here tries an exotic food and describes her impressions on the experience, what's it to you? She's talking about a fruit here, not a culture. When you characterize her account as "disparaging," you exercise your right to state an opinion, something that she should be free to do as well. What you're describing is censorship...and like a Durian, it smells rotten.

Doodle Bean said...

Maybe brave 'anonymous' was thinking of that noble country of Duria, which is peopled with notoriously hypersensitive people with comprehension disorders...

Or maybe 'anonymous' just wasn't thinking...

LD said...

I grew up in Vietnam. As I was a child, I hated the smell and taste of Durian. My Mom tried to make me eat it, just like my sister tries to make her kids to eat broccoli. It took me a long time to get used to, and then came to love it. I think Got 2 Trot Librarian has an opened mind just by giving it a try....just like "love" it takes time.... :) Your post comments made me laugh. Thanks for being honest.
I also agree with Swift comment about Anonymous.