After years of sampling a variety of local cuisine, I finally ate my first durian.
The durian is the hedgehog of the fruit world in both size and shape. Most prominent is its covering of large, solid thorns. That, and the smell, which can be described as somewhere between Epoisses cheese and my teenage son’s gym shoes. Which he wears without socks.
Despite this, I was looking forward to giving the durian a try. My assumption was that given its popularity in Singapore and cost (nearly $45 USD each) there must be some delicious treat inside.
That assumption was incorrect.
My colleagues and I purchased a durian and the shop proprietor sliced it open using a machete. Once opened, the durian revealed five sections with objects that looked like enormous banana slugs. Unfortunately; they also had the texture of a banana slug. This is considered the “good part” of the durian.
“So, what do I do?” I ask my colleagues.
“You just break off a piece and eat it.”
“Yes, just break it off and chew it. We’ve been eating this since we were children.”
“Ok. I’ll give it a try,” I say as I pinch an inch long chunk and throw it into my mouth, chewing quickly.
“Well, do you like it? a colleague asks with a suggestion of hope in her voice.
Normally, in this situation, I would take one for the team, put on a smile and say something neutral like “interesting flavor”.
But the taste of the durian compelled only one response: “This is awful.”
To which I repeatedly received this polite reply: “It must be an acquired taste.” Then my friends dug into the durian like it was cotton candy.
Now certain things in life I consider an “acquired taste”: the automotive styling of the Prius C; any music by Psy; the Philadelphia Phillies; Zumba and recumbent bicycles are just a few examples that come to mind. The durian? Definitely, NOT an acquired taste. In fact, I’m not sure which marketing agency the Durian Fruit Growers Association is using, but they are doing an outstanding job.