30 May 2006

Close encounters of the Durian kind


I've had a few helpings of durian in the past. But it was not the actual fruit. It came as candies and sweets as pasalubong. True to its smelly reputation, even the candied variety has the unique ability to make my officemates' noses twitch. Inspite of that, I did like the candies.

I did not think much about having durian in Davao. In fact, I was even 50% looking forward to it in the first few days. But the build-up of this treat, like it was an event all by itself, made me feel cautious as the dinner to Em's place neared.

So I was glad to have a durian product first before the actual fruit. After one of our hearty dinners, went to Blugre', a local coffee shop that offered Durian coffee. Hmmm... intriguing. Everybody except the locals in our group ordered this concoction. Cheers!
It smelled and tasted ok. It actually tasted more like coffee with a hint of durian candy. I was enjoying my cup when I felt a pulpy consistency when the cup when I was four-fifths done. Intrigued, I slurped the remaining pulps, munched, and swallowed.

I was perspiring soon enough. It was very uncomfortable. I don't know if it was the remaining coffee that had a concentration of sugar and cream that hit me (I perspire profusely when I eat candies and sweets), or the power of the durian itself. At any rate, the group had a field day about my sweating session. Aaaargh.
When we visited Princess Em's house for dinner, I was delighted not to see any trace of durian on the table. Just watermelons and mangoes. But when everybody was already contentedly finishing up the remaining seafood tidbits on their plate, some yellow, roundish things were served on the table.

Everybody stared at me, with smiles on their faces.

One of our companions (a local) took some and took huge bites. "This bright yellow variety is the best one!" he declared. It would be foolhardy to refuse because it might offend the host, so I took one. So did our other companions, who haven't had durian before too.

It's best served refrigerated, so I took a moderate-sized lump, ready for this challenge. After the others took a bite off their smaller portions, I had mine. It had the consistency of soft ice cream. But the taste ... I cannot quite place it. It's difficult to describe. But I knew then and there that it will take a while for me to finish off my piece. It was not that wierd actually, but I can tell you it's no orange or pineapple or watermelon either.

After some time, I finally laid down the seed on my plate. When asked if I wanted another, I respectfully declined. Incidentally, I did not sweat profusely as with the coffee version, though I read in wikipedia that durian does cause sweating.

It was a unique experience for me. I'm not picky with my fruits. I even chomp down on an occasional chesa, the yellowish fruit that I'm not really fond of. But the durian is quite something. It must be an acquired taste.

I think I will settle for the candies for now. But if the occasion calls for it, I will take the challenge and eat a lump. Hope it will come fresh from Davao, though :-).
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