There is this grocery store a short distance from my house called the Hong Kong Market, and it’s one of those “authentic” places that smells horrible and has all kinds of weird food products for sale. For example, their meat departments consists of all kinds of whole fish just sitting in these big cardboard boxes. It’s also the only place where I can buy various types guts, chicken feet, duck heads or a big container of blood. Now since I am a pasty white guy, I usually only go there to buy pasty-white-guy things like oolong tea and shitake mushrooms, but over the weekend we had some company and were feeling fairly adventurous, so we bought this giant prickly fruit called a durian.
If you haven’t heard of a durian, it’s probably because they are banned in most public places because they smell absolutely horrible, and as a result are kept in the freezer of my local Hong Kong market. They also are roughly the size of a football and look like the business end of some sort of medieval weapon. But apparently, many people view these things as a delicacy and some say that they actually taste really good, despite the off-putting smell. So anyways, we purchased one, brought it home and let it thaw out on the deck for a while.
After a few hours, we got a big knife and cut it open, and lemme tell you, people aren’t kidding when they say it smells absolutely terrible. In fact, the most accurate description I can think of to describe the smell is three-day-old wet garbage. Now many people might not even want to taste something that smelled like that, but against my better judgment, I scooped out some of the glop from the inside and tasted it.
To say this stuff tasted bad is an understatement. Instead, I would say that one experiences several different tastes while eating a durian. My taste progression went something like this:
- Three-day-old wet garbage
- Three-day-old wet garbage with some sugar on it
- A sweet, rotten onion
- Back to three-day-old wet garbage
As you can see, none of the four taste sensations I experienced are tastes that I enjoy, but I could also say that they are tastes that I had never experienced prior to last weekend, for whatever that’s worth.
Overall, a durian ranks #2 on the list of the grossest foods I have ever eaten, with sea urchin roe from a sushi place several years ago still holding down the #1 spot. So what am I saying with all this? Nothing really. If you really want to go eat a durian, knock yourself out. But don’t say you haven’t been warned.
This has been Andy sayin’, “Ahh, engineering. Where the noble semi-skilled laborers execute the vision of those who think and dream. Hello, oompa-loompas of science.”