Sharing my Experience of Global Travel: with a Touch of UncleDes Humor for Good Measure
Thursday, September 17, 2009
"Why you so crazy for durian? You are Ang Moh. I scratch my head."** A couple of weeks back, my Singaporean friend Irene (and yes, that's pure Singlish she's speaking) asked, when we were talking about what has been called the "King of Fruits", the durian.
Looking like an overgrown lime gone punk, this incredibly spiky (yes: you can be killed by one of these falling on you) fruit, with notable exceptions down the ages (mostly English, I am proud to say) bisects two peoples into the 1/ "love it" (South East Asians) and 2/ "blaaaarggh...barf" Westerner categories. Notable food hard-man Andrew Zimmern being one of the latter (snigger...."Fairy!").
The smell of the thing is very pungent, and the first time I encountered one, my chemist's nose was physically assaulted by an aroma I was trying to put names to, but is most reminiscent of a chemical factory. After a few seconds of trying, I realized the thing's overwhelming odor is a result of a huge amount of strong fruity (ester) components, so what you are getting is the BIGGEST fruit smell you will ever encounter. At which point your brain will either reject the smell ("Aaagh it's too much!") or (as mine did) say "YUM!".
The ones I tried on this trip, and there are hundreds of varieties were a bit grey-looking, not the usual bright green, and the skin on the white seed pods was a little chewy. "It's the end of the season" said Sehar, so we were not in for a huge treat, but the creamy/custardy flesh with its slightly nutty, fruity, mildly sweet taste was still pretty good to me.
Another colleague and I tested out a well-known myth that "If you eat durian and drink alcohol, you will die". The folklore being that alcohol and durian are both "heating" and you will explode and fry your brains.... or some such shit. I'd already committed suicide in Singapore by doing this: according to my friend who has my immense respect as a scientist, but gets an 'F' in biology. As you can imagine, I am typing this from beyond the grave...Woo! Spooky!!!
Safe Travels! Des
**Trans: "Why do you like durian so much? You're a white guy? I'm perplexed."