Before I die, I shall eat a durian


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.


About Joyce

40-year-old university advisor, 10-years married with two small children, trying to do it all and have it all and still manage the occasional social interaction through the wonderful world of blogging.
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10 Responses to Before I die, I shall eat a durian

  1. Oh, I loved this! We are on the same wave length though I have never heard of this durian fruit that you speak of! But I totally catch your drift! I love how you wove this tale…something so simple yet something so large!!!

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks, Melissa! I always wish I had found a way to travel before I had little ones. I was so tied up with other things that I never got around to it. And now it will be a little while. Sometimes I just wish I could get out of here and go do something different.

  2. Sofia says:

    Hi Joyce! I was brought up with durian so i feel quite indifferent about them. My boyfriend, however, even though he is so open minded with all other foods, this is something he cannot stand. Other people think its a gift directly from god. Its strange how one fruit can stir up so many passions.

    • Joyce says:

      Oh, yes. I hear there is a great divide in opinions on this fruit. My husband’s boss is from the Philippines and says that his relatives bring out these fruits, he runs in the other direction before the smell hits him.

      May I ask where you are from?

      • Sofia says:

        Sure! I’m half Indonesian and Spanish and also Australian. However we lived in South East Asia for a number of years so I can bear a durian 🙂

      • Joyce says:

        I read an article about durian a while back…about 100 years ago someone on the US east coast tasted and loved this fruit. He sent a train car loaded with them to a business associate on the west coast with instructions to turn them into ice cream and sell the ice cream. The west coast associate sent a cable askign to send more, as the first load had rotted in transit. This scenario was repeated a few more times before they realized that they had not communicated about the smell 🙂

      • Sofia says:

        Hahaha I can just imagine the surprise!!! 🙂

  3. anggitacy says:

    Ow, you should! Specially Durian that just fell to the ground, very fresh, more fragrant, more sweet. You can find it in countryside, and wait underneath the durian tree *use helmet. Thats fun. 😀

    • Joyce says:

      Some day, I will do just that! I was reading someone’s really funny blog about the durian…he was saying that everything about this fruit tells you not to eat it – it grows high up, it’s really sharp and spikey, and that smell. Perhaps it’s an act of rebellion to eat one 🙂

      • anggitacy says:

        Yes, if you watch bizzare food, Andrew said the smell was like smelly socks mix up with union, imagine that. I think its bit true. When i was kid, i hate it so much. I dont even want to talk with my dad after he ate it. But, when i grow up, i love it like crazy, may be because i am Indonesian. Exotic fruit. And kind of hard to find the right Durian, some of it taste bad. If found the right one, its soooo heavenly. 😀

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