Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Domino's & Durian

"I have eaten bizarre foods all over the world from turtle feet to pig brains, but durian fruit is the most disgusting thing I've ever put in my mouth." - Andrew Zimmern

I've left the dust and traffic of Jakarta for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I'm running on an hour's sleep and the chemical after-effects of a week-long Ambien addiction.

As the taxi was driving me to the hotel, I spotted a Domino's a few blocks away and the craving for it would not leave me be. After checking in, as I walked down the street from the hotel, I smelled what I thought was an over-full dumpster rotting in the tropical sun, but in fact it was this guy selling the infamous durian fruit out of the back of his small van:

The durian is legendary. It's a tropical Asian jungle fruit that has evolved a noxious odor and sharp spikey shell as a biological defense against animals eating it. Leave it humans to ever think of putting it in their mouths.

In all my travels to Asia, I had never eaten durian so I HAD to buy one. But I was freaking starving and was worried about polluting my empty stomach with such a toxic substance. I walked up to his van and tried to negotiate buying a small bite-sized sample but he would only sell me a whole one at over one kilogram (2.2 lb). Fuck it. I'd get my pizza and if I had money left over I'd spend it on durian.

You have to imagine what this stuff smells like. It is so stinky that the 20 foot perimeter around this man's van reeked to high hell --- REALLY --- like rotting garbage. That's the best description of the durian's smell. It's so bad that there are "No Durian" signs like this in hotels all over tropical Asia:

During lunch I was actually nervous and thought of abandoning the plan, but after I finished the pizza and was walking past the van, I couldn't resist. He cut me up a kilo's worth of durian for only $4.68. Not bad for a putrid after-lunch snack! I sat on a concrete slab next to a closed Japanese restaurant and proceeded to try it.

The shell is so spikey that I had to be careful not to cut myself when handling it. Those are some serious spikes. Good job, evolution!

The fruit itself has the texture of a dead animal's decaying flesh and is the color of medium-yellow urine. It's a bit slimy. The stink began to emanate toward my nostrils and I thought about turning back and leaving it there on the sidewalk. Then something came over me and I fingered up a small piece and shoved it quickly into my cake hole before I could hesitate. I chewed slowly, thinking about what was now on my tongue.

I am actually surprised that it didn't taste SO bad. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not GOOD, but far from deserving all this legendary status when judging by taste alone. It has a slight jungle-like skunky flavor that hits the sides of your tongue kind of like jack fruit, durian's less-stinky cousin. The taste is so far from anything I am used to that I cannot think of a comparison to any other food. But god damn, this texture was just gross! But I forced myself to take a second bite and that was it. Enough. I left it by a pile of trash like nature intended.

The worst part of durian is your burps afterward. For hours your burps smell the same as that guy's van: like hot garbage. I'm glad I have bragging rights now but I probably will avoid it in the future.

I had Durian in KL last year in similar circumstances. Goddamn weird stuff but has to be tried at least once in your life.
I love you Lonnie Bruner.
Well done! I thought you had balls eating pickled pigs feet on the dock at Smith's Island.

When you travel, you go all out. Don't lose sight of the sailing trip!!
I'm so jealous. I've been wanting to try durian for years.
They also sell durian-flavored ice cream and cake here. GROSS.
"I left it by a pile of trash like nature intended."

This is why your blog rocks.

My daughter is fascinated by Indonesia so I am absolutely positive that some day I'll have to try Durian Durian too. Maybe when I'm Hungry like the wolf. O jeez, I really just said that. I think I'll leave this comment anonymously.
'Bout damn time LB.
Durian! I only know a few people who have tried it, but I have to say, the reputation of the durian as most horrible fruit in the world just really makes me want to try it. I mean, you know it is going to be bad, but you have to find out exactly how bad, right? Curiosity is a horrible thing.
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