A while back I was speaking with a colleague who had lived in a number of exotic locales, most recently Singapore. We somehow arrived at the subject of the exotic durian fruit, which I had just read about. “God, I love ’em,” Mike rhapsodized, and told me stories about this pungent fruit and tried his best to describe its flavor and texture.
I told him about my husband’s encounter with a durian hard candy taken from a bowl on his boss’s desk. As my husband stood there discussing his work, he casually unwrapped a candy and popped it in his mouth, only to spit back out seconds later as his boss shook with laughter.
“What did it taste like?” I had asked him, intrigued.
“Ass,” he answered.
I don’t care. I want to try an durian.
Also known as the king of fruit by its enthusiasts, this fruit is eagerly sought and consumed by the throngs of people who adore it, even as it stinks up entire city blocks in Asian countries. The texture has been described as turning into something like ice cream in the mouth, while the flavor has been approximated to either almond flavored custard (by fans), or dirty socks (by foes). Its scent has been compared to that of rotting onions, or rotting…something. “Smells like hell, tastes like heaven,” they say.
Last night I went online looking for this mysterious, elusive fruit, because my friend Mike is down, and I want to give him one as a gift, and maybe even get one for myself. These critters are hard to come by. A Facebook tip led me to Ebay, where I found not the fruit, but a four-pack of seeds that ships from Thailand.
I entertained visions of giving Mike a potted durian tree, and perhaps even planting one in my own yard.
“We’re not growing a durian tree,” my husband said.
I asked my mother if I could grow one on her property.
“Not in my back yard,” was her answer.
My husband is struggling to make sense of my obsession with trying this fruit. I don’t know how to express to him that maybe it is not the fruit, but the enticing, unfamiliar world that lies on the other side of these oceans. I want to get out from behind this desk and go somewhere that has monkeys and rainforest and open-air markets selling spiny fruit that smells. I want to explore ancient ruins. I want to swim and hike and sleep under mosquito netting.
Well, maybe I can do without the mosquito netting. The threat of malaria may be altogether too exotic for me.
Maybe I want the fruit because I can’t have it. Not now, anyway. For now, I must be content with my Pinterest board where I affix all the sights I will someday visit. The cathedral in Dresden. That walled city in Mexico. The village in Italy. The architecture in Barcelona. The volcanos in Hawaii. And a fruit stand in Malaysia.
I want to get away from here, cross the ocean and see new sights, even smell new smells. But for now, I change the diapers and do the laundry and go to work each day, dreaming of my someday, and make myself an expert on places that I have never seen, but desperately wish to visit.