Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Want to Try a Durian?

I thought I would write my blog early today as my computer work has been slow to come in and could arrive at any moment in full force, or not. I called Roxy this morning as we hadn't spoken all week. We spent an hour and a half on the telephone catching up with each other, plus, we have 30 years worth of catching up to do in each other's lives. Roxy was one of my best friends in high school, but a few years after she married and moved far away, something happened in her life that caused us to lose contact with each other for a very long time. I didn't really understand why until we reunited a few years ago after her mother's death and she explained it to me. Now, we have this whole history together that resumed without seeming to skip a beat, except that we both raised our families into adulthood before resuming the friendship. It is very comfortable, and yet very strange.

While we were conversing, the subject of the durian came up. I was talking about surfing the net, or following links to other blogs. Roxy couldn't understand why anyone would want to read the blog of someone they didn't personally know. I used the example of the durian.

Being the foodie that I am, I had read about durians many years ago and was intrigued by how exotic they must be. I think the first time I read about them was in connection with how many harvesters are killed by falling fruit in orchards where they grow. In my younger days, I used to do temp work in the office of the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. I remember one of the law clerks, Joe Viola, was going on a trip where there was an Asian market. Knowing that I had my own catering business, he asked me if there was some exotic thing I knew about for which he could search. The durian immediately came to mind. He returned sort of elated because at the time, it was so exotic that they didn't have it, but knew what it was and were surprised to find an American asking for one. It was a great quest for him.

A few years ago, Assi Market, a huge Asian chain, opened a supermarket within a mile of my home. I love going there because I find all kinds of exotic produce with which even I am not familiar. They do have durians. Saul and I stare at them every time we see them wondering if this will be the time we overcome our fear and actually buy one to try. So far, a few years have gone by and we have not mustered up the courage. Then, a few months ago, Ari sent me a link to a YouTube video because we had been discussing gospel music and a favorite scene of his from the movie "The Color Purple." I told him I remembered the scene, but not the song because it had been so many years since I had seen the movie. So Ari, expert finder of information that he is, sent me the scene. I just looked up his old email with the link, so if you want to view it, here it is. It is a classic.

Anyway, to get back to the original story, while I was on YouTube anyway, I started to browse through it and just happened upon a bunch of videos of people experiencing durians for the first time.

I spent a very amusing hour looking through some of them and sent links to some of my favorites back to Ari. When I verified these links, I realized that after playing my favorite, You Tube gives you the whole selection. My other favorite is the "Angry Bob" one.

The Swan's mentioned yesterday that they were considering going to Thailand. The subject of durians came up when Ralph said he had tried fermented tofu on one of his trips. Also, they were familiar with the Food Network program, Bizarre Foods. Two of the only foods that defeated Andrew Zimmern, the host of the program, were fermented tofu and durian (and this is a man who can eat live bugs!). I offered to send the links to Ann Marie and Ralph when I told them I could actually get a durian easily and they expressed an interest in tasting it.

So Roxy, if you found this blog amusing or informative, you will understand why I am becoming so enamored/addicted? to the time I spend carousing around the internet and dropping in on people's lives anywhere and everywhere I please. The durian is an example of a casual interest turning into an adventurous quest for more knowledge and information (and there is also a certain pleasure in being a voyeur, I admit). I never know where the path will lead me next.


Ari said...

"Fermented" tofu makes it sound so much more pleasant. Most of my asian friends call it "Stinky" tofu.

Honestly, of all of the various night markets I visited in Hong Kong and Taiwan, nothing can turn my stomach so quickly as the smell of stinky tofu--which usually wafts for about a 10-15 foot radius around any stall where it's being sold.

I'm disappointed, though, that you forgot how (or chose not) to embed the YouTube video directly to your post like I taught you...

Anonymous said...

I remember durian on my visit to Thailand in 2004. It was not served anyplace except in the street markets. The utensils that were used by the street merchants made trying it less than desirable. The hotel had a sign in the lobby indicating that durian could not be brought into the hotel.
I asked Susan, since I am currently in Chicago visiting, and she remembered tasting it on a previous trip to Thailand with Ted. Susan said that that it was a melon and tasted like a strong melon. Ted hadn't tasted it when I asked him.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Durian the one that smells like vomit and looks like a hedgehog? Who do you suppose was the first person to consider eating that? I am so happy to see your blogs getting more and more positive! Could it be the anticipation of the arrival of your grandchildren? I hope that along with all of this food you are preparing for them you are also preparing enough physical activity to work it off!

Ari said...

I hope you don't mind, but I had a few minutes this morning so I logged in as you and made a few changes based on our conversation last night...

I embedded the videos from YouTube, and set it so that you should get a notification email now whenever someone posts to your blog.

If it worked, you should have gotten an email about this comment...