Thursday, January 7, 2010
As Asta and I walked into a Hong Kong dessert place I exclaimed over the smell of durian that permeated the place. "I don't think I've ever smelled durian," Asta said, in a tone I could only interpret as proud.
"Get a whiff of that rotting garbage right now," I said. "That's durian."
"That's durian?" Asta asked incredulously. "I've smelled that before. I always thought there was just a lot of garbage in Chinatown."
For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of coming face to face with a durian fruit, it has a very distinct smell that I always associate with my grandparents' garbage disposal. Anthony Burgess wrote that eating durian is "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory."
I wasn't sure if I had ever eaten durian before. I was very familiar with the smell from my obsessive trips to Asian groceries, but couldn't remember actually ingesting it. So since the dessert place smelled like a homeless bellybutton anyway, I figured I might as well join in the fun.
Durian fruit is a whopper of a fruit and unlike any other I have tasted: sweet, creamy, glutinous, strangely smooth and almost custardy. But as Burgess suggested, the taste is certainly impacted by the smell of bootrot that emanates from the fruit. Wrapping it in marshmallow and coconut certainly helped, but it's still a very strange eating experience. Strange but yummy.