Monday, February 16, 2009
Let us now pause for a rare food post.
I'd had durian once before in my life, maybe seven years ago shortly after we moved to Jersey City. There was (unfortunately since replaced with a Target) a huge international foods store with six or seven ethnicities represented, including Indian, Filipino, Chinese and Japanese. I remember vainly trying to convince Linda to buy the bull pizzle, a coiled thing that I'm sure stretched out a good two feet unfurled, to no avail. In any event, one day I bought a durian.
It was a bit disappointing. It also, though no olfactory paradise, wasn't the stinkfest I'd been expecting, smelling only mildly foul (Those readers more familiar with the old Dafeldecker label than the fruit can remedy that situation here) However, the taste was kind of bland. I could get the sense of how a good sample was likely to taste, but it was a faraway glimmer.
Recently, however, I learned that durian was being served, scooped out of its rind, in Chinatown at the corner of Grand and Bowery. Glen, a co-worker who lives near there, brought in a container today.
Durian does well when kept in a freezer, never actually becoming frozen, but acquiring the texture of frozen custard (it has a custardy texture anyway). You can slice off clean hunks of it, carving around the sizable seeds. Its taste has something of papaya to it but also a kind of tang that's unique, possibly off-putting to some. But if you can get past that, and the smell of the fruit (which can range from not bad at all, like today's sample, to utterly offensive), it's positively ambrosial. Even better than Marmite.
Early nominee for Food of the Year.