The Durian Festival here in Jakarta draws thousands of people to buy what looks like a dastardly projectile you would use in mortal combat, during the middle ages. You could just hurl its flesh, and the smell alone would render your adversary immobile. So what is a Durian? Believe it or not, it’s fruit. This fruit is banned in many grocery stores, airports and any other place where the public assembles indoors because it has a God-awful smell. They make everything out of this stinky delicacy; cakes, pancakes, ice cream, cheesecake, pudding, salads and smoothies just to name a few. The flavor of Durian is a mix of sweet, savory and creamy once you cut through its spiky shell.
I remember the first time I walked into a grocery store that sold Durian; I said to myself, OMG what is that smell? Here’s a visual for your olfactory senses, check out of the grocery store and into the boys locker room, minus a year of being cleaned. Yep, that’s it.
You know I am one of those people that when you are in Rome, you do as the Romans do. My visit to the festival was not my first encounter with Durian. My friend Hiroko had given me a dish of Durian ice cream. Despite the fluffy cap of whip cream on top, the pungent order of Durian still plunged its way up my nasal cavity. I took a bite and thought I was going to throw up. I looked at my friend and asked why on earth would anyone want to eat this stuff. What is the attraction? She said, take another bite. I said, seriously? I thought well maybe I haven’t given this poor thing a break yet. Maybe I have to discover what brings someone back for yet another bite, so I did and I took another bite and then another and guess what? I think Mikey likes it! After awhile you don’t smell it anymore. You know how when eat hot chilis, and your mouth and lips are on fire, so you keep eating until your done because if you stopped you feel the pain. It’s kind of like eating Durian. If you stopped eating it you would smell it.
After we had left with the mother lode of Durian powering our vehicle to the next stop of luxury, we landed at the oldest ice cream shop in Jakarta.
My friend Lulu ordered a round of Durian ice cream for everyone. The cashier confessed, I am sorry we are sold out. Sadly, I settled for Mocha. I took my ice cream back to the table and my other friends Emilia and Santi had ordered two plates of what looked like carnival food in the states. It was some rendition of a funnel cake ( a fried puffy looking pastry) with what looked like caramel sauce and something else that look like Ladyfinger biscuits with chocolate sauce. I thought WOW, we are going to paint the town red. Oh cool, I said, what is this?
Santi said, the fried crisps are called Kerupuk Asinan and that caramel sauce is peanut sauce. I thought well this is an interesting mix with my ice cream, and then I dared to ask what the other plate was, given that I already had a false assumption this was dessert. I might as well stick a fork in the theory and call it done! She said this other dish is Otak-Otak. It’s processed fish sticks and peanut sauce. I said who eats this with ice cream? In unison they said, we do. You must try, they said. I was looking forward to landing in Rome sometime soon. Although, I think my plane took a serious detour. Trina, Oh Trina are you awake, we are in Indonesia now. I had already finished my ice cream, so I thought why not. I have to say my taste buds were not happy. They might have been if this bite of process fish food would have followed my boys dirty laundry.
Here’s to all those people who love to know the health benefits. Durian: aids in maintaining optimal blood pressure, helps prevent cancer and anemia, provides relief of insomnia, helps to keep bones healthy, delays premature aging and helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Viola!
So I say, play the “Fear Factor” if you ever get a chance and give it a try. In this episode, you can also maintain a healthy body.