June 21, 2009

Adventures in Durian

Alex recently took his parents to our local asian market for the fresh fish.  They came home with this strange looking fruit, in addition to the stinky fish.  (I'm just glad they didn't bring home any of the live snails or crawdaddies.)  It was frozen, and they were told to let it thaw and then cut between the spikes. 

My mother-in-law and I did a little research and found we had a Durian fruit.  The article I found by a south Asian chef left me a bit dubious.  She said that, while it was a delicacy in  Thailand that often caused tussles at the produce stand, it is generally considered vile by those with a less familiar palate.  She warned that the smell would be overwhelming, so she recommended eating it while still partially frozen.   Apparently, that would also mute the taste a little.  The taste itself?  It would be a mix of sweet fruit, onion, garlic, and another suggested it would be perhaps a hint of gym sock.

Duly warned, we cut in.  The spikes are on a woody hull, but it was relatively soft in its mostly-thawed state.  We pulled it apart and found a pocket of cream-colored fruit the texture of custard.  I scooped it out with my hand and dumped it in to a bowl.  There was a huge seed in the middle of it, but it was easy enough to squeeze that out and be left with the fruit.  The durian was roughly divided in to quarters and so we had four of these pods.

We served it up and the reactions were immediate.  My 9 year old cousin declared it vomit; my husband disgusting.  My father-in-law refused to try it until forced, and Alex's cousin took a microscopic bite.  My mother-in-law, our friend and I were a little less sure we hated it.  We definitely tasted the garlic and onion, and we didn't think we liked it.  But, we found ourselves going back to try another bite.  On the other hand, we threw away most of it.  In the outside trash - the strength of the smell was not exaggerated.

It was an interesting adventure, but I won't be among the ranks tussling over the freshest Durian in the Thai markets any time soon.

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