It’s pretty stupid calling it a weekly challenge at this point, considering that it has been more than 6 months since the last one. But hey, I’ve got a series going, even if it’s inconsistent, so I’m sticking with it, with added quote marks to indicate that I know it’s not so much accurate!
Anyway, today’s post is about a challenge we actually completed ages ago, but that I totally forgot to post. We’re coming into durian season again here. The supermarket is getting a bit smelly, and the smell reminded me that at the end of last durian season we tried this famous fruit.
If you’ve ever lived in or visited South East Asia, you are very likely familiar with durian. But if you’re not, durian is:
regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk(Wikipedia)
The smell is intense. So intense that malls, hotels, and all sorts of other places around Asia ban them entirely. People seem to smell it differently, and it has been described as ” rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage”. The Engineer picks up the turpentine/gasoliney smells. I, on the other hand, definitely get the rotten onions. Lovely.
The soft flesh is (apparently) a rich custard with an amazing flavour. But as you will see, I am not convinced!
We were not game to purchase a whole durian. They are huge, and expensive. So we don’t have a picture of our own. But the internet has come through for us with this great shot of the thorny beast:
Instead we bought a small portion of the durian flesh from the supermarket, tried not to totally stink out our car, brought it home and dubiously cracked open the small packet. We were left with this (plus a bit more, but this was more than enough):
We took a small piece, and one by one we tried it. I bravely went first. After a quick sniff, I was not convinced I wanted to, but for the sake of the blog, I persevered and got it in my mouth.
As you can see. I did not love it. In fact, I was rather toddler like in my extreme distaste, and I was not afraid to show it. I am proud to say that I did not spit it out.
The Engineer was next. He was a little more brave, more stoic (as usual), and a little less expressive. But he was also less than enamoured with his first taste of durian. After trying and not hating durian chips, I think he was expecting something more pleasant. But the real thing just doesn’t compare!
The problem with writing this post is that the taste is virtually impossible to describe. I would love to give a good wine-label type description of its flavour, with notes and hints and all, but all I can really say is that it doesn’t taste as bad as it smells, as seems to have been the case in many of our challenges (see dried cuttlefish, century egg). It’s a bit sickly sweet, like a jack fruit. But with some other weird and wacky flavours that make it rather less nice (and I am not a big fan of jackfruit!) It is possible that we got a dud one – we had no idea how to pick – but after that first taste, it will be a while before we’re back.
Basically, if you want to understand durian, you will just have to come to Asia and try it yourself! If you can, I would recommend finding someone local to help you select a good version. It might help! (though I also suspect that even the good version would not be my bag).
Writing this has also given me a great idea. You may have seen Pucker – a great compilation of kids trying lemons for the first time (if not, here it is).
What about babies trying durian? Or even adults? If our facials are anything to go by, you might get some good expressions!
Hopefully this is the start of a renewed interest in writing this blog. But with the wee one due to arrive in less than a month, I am making no guarantees. I have got a couple more challenges up my sleeve though before the big challenge of parenthood begins. So we will see!