The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

The Durian Column

In the last few days, I’ve had pig’s neck, ox’s tail, steamed frog legs, and of course chicken feet. But far and away, my most courageous gustatory adventure was eating durian.

On the outside, a durian is a green, spikey rugby ball of a fruit. If it fell from a tree onto you, you’d probably die. I guess the Autumn chestnuts of 32nd Place no longer seem so intimidating.

Once open, the smell is overwhelming. Supposedly, Hong Kong has banned people from taking the fruit onto mass transit for fear that it would crack open, exposing riders to an aroma somewhere between a rotten papaya and a gym sock.

Even more than its appearance or odor, the most other worldly aspect of the durian is the taste. The adjective normally attached to its flavor is the unhelpful “indescribable” Of course, this was why I had to try it in the first place. I’d venture to compare durian to pungent, gooey cheese soaked in sherry. But, I enjoyed it. I’ve also heard the taste—equally accurately—described as custard that has passed through a sewer

Also, not unlike Pepsi and Pop Rocks, I’ve been told that if you eat durian within hours of drinking beer, your bowels will explode. Thankfully, it appears that this is an unfounded culinary legend.

Though to end on a note of caution, if any food secretly contained Martian seeds that resulted in an alien exploding from one’s stomach, it would certainly be the durian.

Maybe I just got lucky.

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4 Responses

  1. chezshay says:

    Sounds cool,what great experiences. Can you show us what it looks like?

  2. Adam says:

    I second the call for a cool photo of durian – preferably at sunset in the talons of a large bird of prey with a rainbow in the background.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Oh Chris, I LOVE durian! But it’s true, it’s certainly not something to be proud of, nor is it something you can eat freely in public. It’s weird. When I eat it, I almost don’t even notice the smell. Well, I *notice* it but it just seems pungent, not necessarily foul. But when I come home to it, it’s certainly not pleasant. Of course, the kind I mostly get in New York are the frozen and boxed kind in Chinese supermarkets – I’ve only had the rare pleasure of eating fresh durian only a handful of times, at most, during my lifetime. Sweet for you!

  4. Janet says:

    Dude, even I won’t eat durian. My parents tried over and over to “help” me acquire a taste for it, but they failed miserably. I think I have pictures of hotels in China that have notices with a picture of a dog with a red circle and slash through it and below that, the same thing with a durian.

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