The Magical Fruit

For a very long time now, I have been toying with the idea of trying something potentially vile. Something so evil that it has been described as akin to the stench of a rotting corpse. Of course, I am talking about durian.

The smell of durian is so bad that it is banished from certain hotels and dining establishments in Asia. You will be fined if you bring it into these places, and they will know you did because durian smells really, really bad–like nothing else in the world, from what I’ve heard.

Why would I want to try this monstrous beast, you ask? Well, as a foody, I believe that I should try everything once. I have allowed myself a couple of passes: balut (don’t click unless you really want to be grossed out) and century eggs. These exceptions are for obvious reasons. When I heard about durian, I couldn’t find a reason to not eat it, other than the stench. I mean, it’s just fruit, right? And people all over Asia are giddy about it, so why not just try it?

Honestly, I was afraid. I’d pass by the odd looking fruit at our Asian market and let my hand hover over it, only to slowly pull it back and say to my inner self, No, not today.I’m not ready just yet…

For some reason, I’ve been talking a lot about durian lately. Probably because I read that Tony Bourdain thinks it’s fantastic, if you can get past the smell. So last night, we went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and I decided to try the durian shake, which is listed on the dessert menu. How bad could it be, I thought. It’s just a shake and it might give me a slight hint as to what actual durian tastes like. Admittedly, this is the wimpy route, but to do this, I really need to take baby steps.

So my husband and I ordered the durian shake and it was soon brought to us in a typical shake container, topped innocently with whipped cream. The waiter stood by, probably out of idle curiosity, to see my reaction. I smelled it. My first response was one of shock. Not because it was that bad, but because it wasn’t what I anticipated. It was familiar. I expected unusual. Then, I tried it. The taste matched the smell. How odd.

So what did it taste and smell like to me? Onions. It smelled and tasted of onions. Andrew Zimmerman, of the show, Bizarre Foods, also said it smelled like onions, although he added rotting and mushy to the description. He also said it tasted like pig pooh and turpentine. He tried durian on his show once (he eats everything mind you), and right after he tried it he began scraping it out of his mouth in disgust. Zimmerman: not a fan of durian.

Personally, I just think the shake tasted like an onion shake. I would never order an onion shake. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t even bad (close though). It was just, eh.

Am I going to try the real thing one day? Honestly, I don’t know. Probably.One day. But not today. But you should. And when you do, please blog about it 🙂

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