After dinner in Ilsan last Saturday, we had the dessert with the infamous fruit that had been thawing all day in Brant’s window. He had found it at Carrefour and had excitedly been telling me about it for a while.
We had to eat it outside because Brant didn’t want the smell in his apartment. We found a table outside a convenience store. Brant and I got the biggest knife he had and some spoons. I didn’t know how to open it, so I just carved into it and pried it open.
The insides were creamy and custardy with pits that looked like avocado pits.
I had my first bite of durian.
I had been wanting to try this for years. I had heard horror stories of how the smell and taste were pungent, strong, sickening — it’s banned in public spaces in Singapore.
The way Tony Bourdain described it was sort of like stinky cheese, like kissing your dead grandmother. Others have described it as cream cheese, onion sauce, sherry wine. More graphic descriptions compare it to “eating vanilla custard in a latrine” or “pig shit, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock,” sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray, and used surgical swabs (Wikipedia). The variety of descriptions comes from the fruit itself having different odors based on where it’s from and its level of ripeness.
I personally was prepared for anything — except the sweetness of it. That’s what was unsettling for me. Stinky is good. It’s good for cheese. It’s good for doenjang. Add sweet to the mix, and it’s freaking disturbing.
Everyone had a different idea of what it tasted like. I wish I could remember everyone’s description. My best comparison was how a banana daiquiri tastes after you vomit it.
The cool thing for me was that Eun Jeong was gung ho about trying it. She was actually excited. I didn’t know she was the adventuresome type for food. But she said it was fruit. Fruit’s not scary. She had to see what the big deal was about. “Besides,” she said, “My friends say it has a lot of protein.”
So she enjoyed big gloppy spoonfuls of fruit protein.
We wanted more, so I cut it into quarters, which reveals more pockets of custardy nastiness.
This made Brant very happy.
He was in a state of ecstasy or revulsion.
Even his fiancee Terra had a good time with it.
I had to stop after a while because if its richness and, yeah, it was starting to make me sick. Eun Jeong said she was glad to try it but didn’t want to try it again.
That was last week.
Today, she said, “I forgot what it tasted like now.”
“Do you want to try it again?”