One of the best parts of traveling in the tropics is the fresh fruit. The weird fruit (see: dragonfruit), but also, the fresh fruit. Actually fresh. Literally, they picked it this morning fresh. Like coconut.
Back home, coconut water’s having a bit of a thing. It’s a good $4 or so dollars for eight ounces of coconut water in fancy packaging, which supposedly will do all sorts of awesome health things to my body. I am a skeptic as to the second part of that sentence. As for the first part? I’m pretty sure I got more than eight ounces in my coconut–seriously, you slurp one of these, it’s good for a meal–and then they cracked it open and pointed out that there’s this thick, semitransparent gel-like layer on the inside that you can scrape off like icing.
The shine you see? That’s the gel you scrape off. Over here in the West, they haven’t even figured out how to package that as an overpriced It food yet.
And then there’s durian. Which I had no intention of eating. Everything you’ve heard about the smell, well…it’s not so bad when they’re not open. I’ve used latrines that are worse. But when somebody cracks one, fresh, it’s like the smell wants to excavate your nostrils and stew them in the garbage pile behind a garage. There’s this motor oil tinge to it that just won’t go away. And the inside looks, weirdly, like a small animal’s brain has been encased in a giant prickly seed pod. So I wasn’t going to eat it, but apparently, it was durian season.
And my relatives insisted that I just hadn’t had good durian, that fresh durian would totally change my mind. And I was on vacation. And you do things on vacation that you don’t normally do. So yeah, I ate it.
Durians awaiting the chop
Inside the durian
Texture-wise, it was really creamy. It looks like it’ll have fibers when you pull it out, because bits stretch like pizza cheese strings, but on the tongue it’s just smooth and thick, sort of the consistency of pudding. So that was good, but then it gets to the back of your throat and that motor oil acidity hits you, and there is no person on earth who can keep holding their breach when that happens. So you inhale and oh, man, it gets worse. It’s like sucking from an exhaust pipe, with the mental disconnect that the smoke feels like yummy pudding but tastes like the worst.
So I ate durian. Not ever going to again.