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Don't try this at home

The list of foods I won't eat isn't very long:

(in no particular order)

  1. Uni (sea urchin)

  2. Blood sausage

  3. Head cheese

  4. Insects

  5. Durian


Now the funny thing is I've tried all of these except for one. Can you guess which? Is it head cheese, which is not a cheese but a terrine of the meat from the head, heart, liver and other parts cooked in the head of the animal? No, I tried it and it was like the worse deli meat you've ever had. Was it blood sausage, a sausage of cooked congealed blood? No, it was actually okay, but the whole idea of congealed blood is just not appetizing. Insects? No, although I guess you could argue that when you cover an ant or grasshopper in chocolate it doesn't really count. I've also read that some species of maggots taste like fatty bacon and we all know how much I like bacon. As for uni, I've had it twice; the first time was in college after watching an episode of Taste in which David Rosengarten gushed on and on for 30 minutes about the greatness of uni. My roomie, Joanna and I hit an sushi bar and I ordered a piece. It was the color of orange puke and oozed at me. I took one bite and had to spit it out. I decided many years later that I must have gotten a bad piece, so at Ginza, a pricey Japanese restaurant in Boston, I tried it again. The second time was much better, but the memory of the first still lingers and so uni remains on the list.


That brings us to durian; durian is a fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. It is oblong in shape with a hard spiky shell. It grows up high in trees, like coconuts, and routinely kills a few people every year when it falls on the head of a pedestrian. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian)


Why have I never managed to eat durian? My parents both love it, and when I was 6, a friend of their snuck some in over the Canadian border (back then you could only get frozen durian in the US). I remember the glee of my father, as it is his favorite fruit, as he unwrapped the umpteen layers of plastic wrap and then the oder hit. It has been described in many ways, and honestly words can not capture it fully but “pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock,” is close. I would also add that the gym sock danced in a boot filled with rotten blue cheese. I ran from the room and no amount of coaxing would get me to try a bite. It been a couple of decades since then and I don't know if I would react any differently.


Why am I blogging about durian now? There is a show on the Travel channel; Bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmerim, and all he does is travel around eating things that make Fear Factor look like Mickey D's. In one segment of tonight's episode he went to a exotic food farm where they breed insects for consumption. I watched as Andrew chomped on teriyaki cockroaches, lemony scorpions and fried tarantulas with gusto, and stated that it was all really good. I've watch a couple of episodes and I haven't seen him get grossed out yet. I was thinking he couldn't actually enjoy all of this stuff, maybe he is just hamming it up for the camera. The very next segment, he is in Chinatown in NY, in front of a durian vendor and he takes a bite and gags on it, declaring how nasty it is. He gives it a second try (always try it twice is his rule) and this time can't even swallow it and spits it out.


I feel quite vindicated; if Andrew Zimmerim, a man who managed to eat a whole steamed egg with a 7 day old, half formed duck fetus inside, can't deal with durian, what chance do I have? My family can stop mocking me now.

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