Treppenwitz, after discussing how to hard-boil an egg, delves into other eggs.
He mentions thousand year old eggs. And balut.[Balut, in case you did not know, is a fertilized duck-egg, nearly hatched, with a ducky embryo inside. In the Philippines it is considered a delicacy.]
I do not wish to discuss balut, seeing as Treppenwitz has already done so in more detail than I think healthy. Obsessively, yet.
Instead, I wish to speak of durian, which is also considered a delicacy and is also available in the same places as balut.
The name durian means 'spiky thing' in Malay and Indonesian. It is the king of fruits. A large foot-ball shaped globulous husk, covered with spikes, hides segments of a creamy, pudding-like consistency, very reminiscent of vanilla custard with a touch of almonds. Intense. Delicious. Addictive, even.
It smells like an open sewer.
It is rank, disgusting, and penetrating. The smell carries.
A very bad attitude, for a fruit.
One night I followed the smell for ten blocks to see where it came from. It turned out to be from a small blob of durian in the gutter at Vallejo and Stockton streets. If you are familiar with San Francisco you know that the small blob had to compete with several other smells in that neighborhood. Powerful smells.
It won. It knocked their socks off. The other smells stood no chance.
It was a fiercely pugnacious little putrid blob.
The first time I found durian in San Francisco, I took some over to the South Philly where a friend worked. "Thank you, that's very interesting, good bye!" - I was thrown out.
I called Pak Djim, and asked if he liked durian. "Oh yes, bring it on over".
As I entered his restaurant two customers on the mezzanine hurriedly paid and left. His teenage American daughter announced that she would wait the next three hours in the car out in the parking lot. His wife turned green and soon joined the daughter.
But himself, a cook, and I - we enjoyed it immensely.
A few years after that I took some over to Sam's late at night. Mohammed, at the deep fryer near the door, who had not noticed it while it was in the plastic bag, spent the next half hour wondering loudly and franticly, whether the neighbors' toilet had busted. Several regulars politely tried it before hurriedly paying for their pizza and leaving. Some gagged.
Then Louisiana Tony came happily swaggering in - ran smack bang into the wall of durian reek, and staggered back out looking hurt and confused. He cannot recall that evening in any way.
When I was still working at Fweebinc in Menlo Park I once brought a ripe, heavy, durian to work. We hacked it open in the kitchen after five. A few seconds later the facilities manager came running in, from two buildings away, convinced that there was a gas leak. Only once he was in the kitchen did he remember that there were NO GAS LINES IN THE ENTIRE OFFICE PARK. He "politely" declined to try the fruit.
One year, when Savage Kitten came over (this being before she moved in with me), I took a tupper-ware with durian out of the refrigerator and brought it into the living room. I opened it. I had scarce time to blink before she escaped to the kitchen, locked and bolted the door, and announced that she was not coming out until that frightful thing had been disposed of. She was adamant. She was outraged. And she was utterly determined to never ever smell whatever it was again. I was evil for exposing her nose to it - whatever it was. Indeed, I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself, and she couldn't wait to meet my relatives to tell them that I kept decomposing space-aliens in my refrigerator, pervert that I was. A degenerate, cruel and disgusting. A sadist. A monster, inhuman and very nasty. Utterly, completely, entirely.
"ISN'T IT GONE YET??!?!?!?!"
I have not eaten durian since.
So highly prized is durian that people will stake out each others orchards, ready to pounce the moment a ripe fruit falls. It is used in iced drinks, puddings, sweet-rice taffy (dudol durian), fermented as a side-dish, and stirfried with chilies and garlic as a sambal.
So thoroughly loathed is durian that hotels and buses will not permit it inside, airplanes will refuse to let it on, and people will hurriedly cross the street in busy traffic if they see someone coming towards them carrying a fruit. A bottle of durian atjar given to a friend can turn his wife into your undying enemy. Your girl friend will move the refrigerator against the kitchen door if you offer her any, and it will take half an hour of heavy straining to get it back against the opposite wall.
I highly recommend it, and you should really try it sometime.
Expand your horizons.
Oh, and it's probably kosher.
Labels: ClayStreet, FOOD, Indo food, Savage Kitten, SK-vol. 1