Durian – less a fruit than a gastronomic “experience”

I lived in Singapore for a while, a delightful tiny island nation off the tip of Malaysia, barely north of the Equator. While there I ate all kinds of wonderful and interesting things, especially the fruit. However, my Singaporean friends told me that my experiences would be incomplete unless I tried durian, although they were honest enough to caution me that most people tend to either love it or hate it. I fell into the smaller “dubious” category.

durian3

I find myself trying to choose my words well…hmmm.  Rather than attempt to describe it myself, let me share from Wikipedia:

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Regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.

The durian, native to Southeast Asia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The nineteenth-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.

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One aspect that is rarely emphasized, because of the focus on its infamous qualities, are the thorns, which are wickedly sharp, but are usually blunted by the time people purchase them, although they are still horribly sharp. Rather like sharp rose thorns on a heavy soccer-ball sized fruit. Ouch! But Wikipedia does have a delightful description of the odor and flavor which, although long, is worthy of reading if you appreciate well written (and sometimes graphic) descriptions of things that are hard to describe, but they will certainly make you laugh! In fact, when trying to read a portion aloud to my son, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak and I had to wipe my eyes.

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The unusual flavour and odour of the fruit have prompted many people to express diverse and passionate views ranging from deep appreciation to intense disgust. Writing in 1856, the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace provides a much-quoted description of the flavour of the durian:

The five cells are silky-white within, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. … as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed.

Wallace described himself as being at first reluctant to try it because of the aroma, “but in Borneo I found a ripe fruit on the ground, and, eating it out of doors, I at once became a confirmed Durian eater.” He cited one traveller from 1599: “it is of such an excellent taste that it surpasses in flavour all other fruits of the world, according to those who have tasted it.” He cites another writer: “To those not used to it, it seems at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately after they have tasted it they prefer it to all other food. The natives give it honourable titles, exalt it, and make verses on it.” Despite having tried many foods that are arguably more eccentric, Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods, was unable to finish a durian upon sampling it, due to his intolerance of its strong taste.

While Wallace cautions that “the smell of the ripe fruit is certainly at first disagreeable”, later descriptions by westerners are more graphic. British novelist Anthony Burgess writes that eating durian is “like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory”. Chef Andrew Zimmern compares the taste to “completely rotten, mushy onions”. Anthony Bourdain, a lover of durian, relates his encounter with the fruit thus: “Its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says:

… its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia.

Other comparisons have been made with the civet, sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray and used surgical swabs. The wide range of descriptions for the odour of durian may have a great deal to do with the variability of durian odour itself. Durians from different species or clones can have significantly different aromas; for example, red durian (D. dulcis) has a deep caramel flavour with a turpentine odour while red-fleshed durian (D. graveolens) emits a fragrance of roasted almonds. Among the varieties of D. zibethinus, Thai varieties are sweeter in flavour and less odorous than Malay ones. The degree of ripeness has an effect on the flavour as well. Three scientific analyses of the composition of durian aroma — from 1972, 1980, and 1995 — each found a mix of volatile compounds including esters, ketones, and different sulphur compounds, with no agreement on which may be primarily responsible for the distinctive odour.

This strong odour can be detected half a mile away by animals, thus luring them. In addition, the fruit is extremely appetising to a variety of animals, including squirrels, mouse deer, pigs, orangutan, elephants, and even carnivorous tigers. While some of these animals eat the fruit and dispose of the seed under the parent plant, others swallow the seed with the fruit and then transport it some distance before excreting, with the seed being dispersed as a result. The thorny, armoured covering of the fruit discourages smaller animals; larger animals are more likely to transport the seeds far from the parent tree.

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I underlined the parts: “…the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop…” and the one about loving it or despising it.

Here is one of many videos (a little long) about eating durian for the first time – reactions run the gamut.

Walnut Spring Moon

I am not a brilliant, or even a good, photographer. In fact, I depend on my camera to do my magic for me, but every now and then something works. I looked out the kitchen window last night and saw the moon behind the early Spring branches of our black walnut tree and was entranced by what I saw.

Hoping to get a picture that somewhat captured the memory, I grabbed the camera, turned off the lights and tried a couple of things, with typically dismal results. I finally turned it on complete manual (except the autofocus lens) and braced myself and…I may just have to write a poem!

I couldn’t decide which I liked best, so I kept them all. Do you have a favorite?

Image

The “Cat Box” is Working

I recently decided to start using a tablecloth in the kitchen because it looks nicer. However, our cat Pixie has a “thing” about sitting on fabric – luggage, laundry, my Bible case, the tablecloth… Then I saw a picture of how someone dealt with their cats getting on their desk, and I was inspired. Here is a picture of my solution (as seen from my laptop).

Pixie's box on table

Stationery box with old hand towel becomes cat’s more acceptable “landing pad.”

 

 

Unmet Expectations, Disappointments, and Getting Over Them

misc_welcome2[1]

Come on in! This is a rare peep behind the scenes. I don’t reveal much about myself often, at least not in this way, but after reading some things I have seen some Facebook friends saying about their ongoing pain from unmet expectations, disappointments, and their emotional struggles, I thought that maybe I should. A bit. Their own confessions seem to be of some help to others, but this post is not even the same category, since it is not an outpouring of angst, but a tale of triumph over my reactions to my disappointed expectations. I generally don’t see how ME sharing this can benefit anyone, and no one has ever seemed to want to listen (that I know of), but I have been wrong before – about a lot of things. We’ll see. At least no one is forced to read this. Meh.

filipino_chinese_christmas_ham_by_chewychua[1]Oddly, in elementary school, I made an OVERT decision to suppress my expectations, primarily because I’d get extremely wound up about holidays and events, then I’d feel let down; I’d also eat stuff that gave me migraines – not fun, either, so I stopped eating certain things and it helped the getting sick part, and moderating expectations helped.

Easter-Eggs[1] Since I had already begun to approach holidays and celebrations with a new attitude, I then developed a stubborn determination to get past the annual disappointment of the empty, superficial “junk” fed to kids and find the eternal (and truly satisfying) “meat” of the matter which, I found out later, most people don’t really think about until they are much older (3rd grade Me: “What do eggs and bunnies have to do with Easter, anyway?”). I even embarked on childish philosophy when, in 3rd grade I recall telling people my favorite quote was “Expect the worst, then the worst can never happen.” It’s warped logic, I know, but what do you expect from a 3rd grader?

two_little_girl_friends[1]Aside from a 6 year hiatus when we were little, we moved fairly often, so some time in high school I eventually (sort of) gave up any expectation of having/keeping/ever seeing close friends again, since getting close to anyone was slow and difficult – these things take time, and I never really had the time in any one place  (and eventually the inclination itself just sort of lost hope) to get past making easy acquaintances. Consequently, I have…not many, plus a small handful of old ones I found on Facebook, but we live far away  (my high school was in another country), are not close like we were, and can’t do the things friends do to keep up the relationship (whatever they are).

That “lonely” disappointment is the hardest to deal with, so I make the most of acquaintances or just helping people with information, since I am thick as a brick at knowing when anyone is really interested in pursuing a more substantial friendship, and am nonplussed when it appears they are (“who? Me? Really? Why?”). That’s actually funny, because I could always read any guy’s romantic interest in me to an extremely subtle degree.

Our mobile existence meant we siblings didn’t even see each siblings_by_junkosakura01-d6w7fcz[1]other much – age differences, frequent social readjustments, school in other countries, and the like – so we rapidly lost the habit of writing (air mail was expensive), or even calling (long distance was also expensive then). However, we love each other and we know it, and seem to have simply accepted it as a part of life. The odd late card, random phone calls, and now Facebook posts and messages, are welcome but not a trigger for recriminations and guilt trips, though I am sure we all secretly dream of dan21904-boxed-christian-greeting-cards-4[1]something more ideal. Me? I’m just glad I have them because they are family and precious to me, and I cherish the memories I have, especially since my “cousin” circle is tiny. Compounding the family connections problem were several years, mostly effectively “by myself”, in a foreign country, so celebrating holidays and birthdays (including my own), was a habit I lost and has been hard to re-establish.

Raft_paddle[1]The disappointment of not being able to make any choice (easy part) and be able to pursue it to fruition without an apparent Divine “Nope. Not this. Door closed.”  has been tough, but I don’t expect many people can relate to that. ANYTHING I wanted to happen RARELY did, and after high school graduation absolutely NOTHING (truly!) I planned to do worked out. This upset me since that was NOT the case with anyone else I knew, so I couldn’t even find anyone to commiserate with! When I tried to make plans of any substance there were always immoveable roadblocks and/or dreadful results/consequences of the choice, so I finally stopped fighting or trying (somewhat fatalistically, I’m afraid), threw away my figurative paddles and just hung on for the ride. If I would have sought God’s will or understood that He had a unique path for me, it would have made it much nicer and more interesting, but spiritual counsel was literally hard to come by where I was at the time, so the constant disappointment was always eating at me.

Eventually, with God’s help as I found spiritual guidance, hard-headed realism, a no-nonsense support group, and developed a quirky sense of humor about my life and myself, I accepted the pain, inevitable losses that all people have, and the many disappointments of life (including those I live with even now) as just part of living in a sin-broken world, but one that is not my real Home.

pity-party[1] I learned that to dwell on them is just wallowing in self pity, which only repels people, changes nothing, makes you bitter, and could hurt others’ feelings, so I almost never mention (or think of) them. I struggle to even write this much, and I haven’t even touched on deeper, more specific and painful disappointments, and I won’t (see the first sentence of this paragraph).

nostalgia-1[1]Some people are disappointed with where their life is and find nostalgia an easy escape. I not only don’t dwell on the past, I don’t even indulge in ANY form of nostalgia – I can’t (won’t?) relate to it because it is ultimately a false memory that can make one’s current life seem depressing and painful, so I avoid it like a hot burner.

I have lost people, pets, places, and lots of things (many of great value) , but I am so grateful for what I have now that there is no disappointment or bitterness there at all. Call me Pollyanna, if you wish, but I am truly glad at how things have worked out, with time, maturity and  my Lord’s help.

It is all behind me! Hallelujah!

grateful_7286c1[1]

Instead, through Divine appointments with people and places, acquaintances and friends-at-the-time, prayer, and seeking the One (Jesus) who is always there, I am grateful for what I have now, what God brings every day, to release any bitterness (it’s called forgiveness), and to take pleasure in every little thing, no matter what I wish was different.

Not that I don’t have worries or anxieties, but now I have a peace that doesn’t make sense and JOY! I live in His present and look forward to my future that He holds in His hands; I do not fear, for He is already there.

peace[1]

Goodbye now, my friends, I now return to my usual style.

The Underwater Tunnel at Ripley’s Aquarium Canada

We visited the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto Canada in March. Very impressive! A friend later asked how long we had to wait long in line. When I looked puzzled she explained that it is so popular that not only is it open until 11 pm(!), but that most of the time you must buy “timed tickets” to guarantee getting in without long lines. I can only think that we were there on just the right day at the right time and the right time of year (it was also cold, wet and dreary) because though it was fairly busy, it was not oppressively so, and there were no lines to speak of.

So here are my four “longer” videos (of ONLY the underwater tunnel) in a playlist. Yeah, I could have spliced them together, but that would have taken a lot longer.  If I owned an actual video camera they would have been higher quality (and there are better videos of this out there), but it’s still a pleasant “trip.”

 

 

Micah Tyler – “You’ve Got to Love Millenials”

This video just got put up and if it doesn’t go viral I will be astonished! It is sung to the melody of “Obla dee obla dah.” Have fun! If there is any problem with watching it, just go to YouTube and search by title.

 

You Might Be a Liberal If …

These cartoons portraying typical contemporary conflicting/ illogical thought were too funny to not reblog. Although not all who call themselves transgender will do such things, too many perverts are ALREADY taking advantage of this and there are stories making the news in spite of political correctness (and there are sites linking to them), although the major media sources do their best to NOT to pick them up for national consumption. There are those who so badly want this worldview to be true that they will ignore and suppress all evidence to the contrary. There’s a phrase for this, it’s called “You’re only fooling yourself.”

… you think adult college students should be protected from hearing or seeing things they disagree with, but children using public bathrooms should not be protected from hearing or seeing things that could traumatize them.

2016 Safe space toonTran bathroom abuse

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Animal Farm – the original 1954 movie

I read the book in junior high school, but didn’t know there was a movie. However it does make sense that there is one. Since one of the candidates in the upcoming American election is a socialist, it is worth sharing for people to watch and consider what the author was trying to say.

For those who care, the comments on the Youtube video I found explain a little about the production. I quote it here for your information.

Published on Oct 28, 2014

Animal Farm is a 1955 British animated film by Halas and Batchelor, based on the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. It was the first British animated feature to be released. The C.I.A. paid for the filming, part of the U.S. cultural offensive during the Cold War, and influenced how Orwell’s ideas were to be presented.

The “financial backers” impacted on the development of the film – the altered ending, and that the message should be that, “Stalin’s regime is not only as bad as Jones’s, but worse and more cynical”, and Napoleon “not only as bad as JONES but vastly worse “. And the “investors” were greatly concerned that Snowball (the Trotsky figure) was presented too sympathetically in early script treatments and that Batchelor’s script implied Snowball was “intelligent, dynamic, courageous”. This implication could not be permitted. A memo declared that Snowball must be presented as a “fanatic intellectual whose plans if carried through would have led to disaster no less complete than under Napoleon.” de Rochemont accepted this suggestion.

In Orwell’s original book, the animals simply look on in dismay as they come to realise that the pigs have become nothing better than the human masters of old.

In a stark departure from Orwell’s book, the film ends immediately after this iconic image with the animals revolting against the pigs.

Music video (rockin’!) – “Uptown Passover”

For those of you who don’t know or pay much attention, Passover is this weekend. As an interpreter, I find myself doing many things , and I have done a Pesach seder (a memorial dinner, if you will, but actually the full version of what the Christians call the Lord’s Supper) or two.

Now Judaism is not generally known for its religious music (even Dr. Laura Schlesinger once said that if you want some really good music, go to the Baptists), but they do know good music when they hear it, and they excel at humor, so here is a wonderfully entertaining parody of “Uptown Funk” by the Jewish a capella group Six13. Some of you will know what they are talking about, but the rest of you will just enjoy the music and start to get an idea of what a Passover Seder (sort of) looks like.

You can’t really tell from the video, but a Seder is long, they read the account of how God brought them out of Egypt, read the Hagadah (the ritual ritual script that guides the whole event), there are some things for the children to do, they wash their hands, drink (and spill) wine, and (finally!) you eat.

BTW, will someone please tell me why you don’t salt the matzoh? Oil and salt are kosher, you know (butter is not the same thing). Or is that just part of the “suffering” paradigm? One night I can understand, but the whole time?

“Punch, Brothers, Punch!”

twainFor those who read widely, those words may have a familiar (even ominous?) ring. Mark Twain was a gifted writer, but this short “story,” if you will, is intended (as much great literature is) to be read aloud. It’s not long,  but it is…entertaining, and worth the unaccustomed effort of loosening up your jaws and tongue to speak someone else’ words and inhabit his tale.

But as you do, please speak “with care,”
for you may become another “passenjare.”

Source: Punch, Brothers, Punch by Mark Twain

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