School lunches – around the world

Well, these pictures of schools lunches around the world are definitely worth more than a thousand words! The ones you see here make me hungry!

Brie, green beans, carrot, rare steak and pudding of kiwi fruit and apples is served in French schools 

Brie, green beans, carrot, rare steak and pudding of kiwi fruit and apples is served in French schools.

In France, school lunch is an art form: hot, multi-course and involving vegetables. A meal of rice, salmon, ratatouille, a slice of bread, a salad with celery and carrots, and an orange and donut at the Anne Franck school in Lambersart, northern France

In France (again), school lunch is an art form: hot, multi-course and involving vegetables. A meal of rice, salmon, ratatouille, a slice of bread, a salad with celery and carrots, and an orange and donut at the Anne Franck school in Lambersart, northern France.

A meal of traditional flavours: Brazil's rice and black beans, baked plantain, pork with peppers and coriander, green salad and a seeded roll

A meal of traditional flavours: Brazil’s rice and black beans, baked plantain, pork with peppers and coriander, green salad and a seeded roll.

Rice, a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root and yellow pea soup is the school lunch in Old Havana, Cuba

Rice, a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root and yellow pea soup is the school lunch in Old Havana, Cuba.

In Japan, school children tuck into fried fish, dried seaweed, tomatoes, miso soup with potatoes, rice (in the metal container), and milk

In Japan, school children tuck into fried fish, dried seaweed, tomatoes, miso soup with potatoes, rice (in the metal container), and milk.

Wholesome: Seeded roll, shrimp with brown rice, gazpacho and tri-colour peppers. Dessert is half an orange

Wholesome: Seeded roll, shrimp with brown rice, gazpacho and tri-colour peppers. Dessert is half an orange.

A serving of borscht (beetroot soup) with pickled cabbage, sausages and mash. Dessert is a sweet pancake 

A serving of borscht (beetroot soup) with pickled cabbage, sausages and mash. Dessert is a sweet pancake.

Greek school lunches feature baked chicken with orzo, stuffed grape leaves, salad of cucumber and tomatoes, yogurt with pomegranate seeds and two oranges

Greek school lunches feature baked chicken with orzo, stuffed grape leaves, salad of cucumber and tomatoes, yogurt with pomegranate seeds and two oranges.

Bowls of salad are ready to be served at Delcare Edu Center, a local kindergarten and child care center in the business district of Singapore

Bowls of salad are ready to be served at Delcare Edu Center, a local kindergarten and child care center in the business district of Singapore.

A healthier UK school dinner: Two trays at a primary school in London. The meal at right consists of pasta with broccoli and slices of bread, and fruit. At left are vegetable chili with rice and broccoli, sponge cake with custard, and a banana

A healthier UK school dinner: Two trays at a primary school in London. The meal at right consists of pasta with broccoli and slices of bread, and fruit. At left are vegetable chili with rice and broccoli, sponge cake with custard, and a banana.

UK school dinner of frankfurters and beans, a baked potato, corn on the cob, slice of melon and a box drink 

And another UK meal for kids: frankfurters and beans, a baked potato, corn on the cob, slice of melon and a box drink.

South Indian school children eat off a thali plate which has white rice, sambar (dhal), smoked gourd vegetable stir-fry, curd, buttermilk and kesari, a type of sweet dessert made from semolina

South Indian school children eat off a thali plate which has white rice, sambar (dhal), smoked gourd vegetable stir-fry, curd, buttermilk and kesari, a type of sweet dessert made from semolina.

Lunch in an Estonian school is rice with a piece of meat and purple cabbage. They also have bread and a get a cup of chocolate drink 

Lunch in an Estonian school is rice with a piece of meat and purple cabbage. They also have bread and a get a cup of chocolate drink .

Balanced diet: Italian children get pasta, fish, two kinds of salad, rocket and caprese, a bread roll and grapes (courtesy Sweetgreen)

Balanced diet: Italian children get pasta, fish, two kinds of salad, rocket and caprese, a bread roll and grapes.

In Finland lunch is mainly a vegetarian affair of pea soup, carrots, beetroot salad, crusty roll and sweet pancake with berries to finish

In Finland lunch is mainly a vegetarian affair of pea soup, carrots, beetroot salad, crusty roll and sweet pancake with berries to finish.

School lunch in Alba, Spain (left):  white flesh peaches, strawberries and yogurt melts, cous-cous, broccoli, cucumbers and roasted salmon; (right): Poached apple pears, strawberries and blue berries, boiled swede and fresh garden peas

School lunch in Alba, Spain (left):  white flesh peaches, strawberries and yogurt melts, cous-cous, broccoli, cucumbers and roasted salmon; (right): Poached apple pears, strawberries and blue berries, boiled swede and fresh garden peas.

South Korean children tuck into broccoli and peppers, fried rice with tofu, fermented cabbage and fish soup

South Korean children tuck into broccoli and peppers, fried rice with tofu, fermented cabbage and fish soup.

And then, there are U.S. school lunches…

Thanks Michelle Obama? New school lunch rules backed by FLOTUS have students nationwide tweeting '#thanksMichelleObama' along with photos of meals like this

The backlash is part of the first lady's push for healthier school lunches

What is it? School lunches in the United States stand in stark contrast to the wholesome and in some cases even decadent meals served to kids in other markedly less fortunate nations

School lunches in the United States stand in stark contrast to the wholesome, and in some cases even decadent, meals served to kids in other markedly less fortunate nations.

By the way, did you know that most U. S. schools NO LONGER ACTUALLY PREPARE THEIR OWN MEALS? Yes, they have been outsourced to, primarily, fast food places, and THIS  is what your school taxes are paying for. Happy? Hope not.

This is only “balanced” in the minds of embarrassed parents and school lunch servers, bureaucrats and the lobbyists who have paid them off. Actually, most schools I am acquainted with would just have pizza and soda, although there is a growing backlash, just not large enough.

This is the kind of junk they have been eating all year and we wonder why our kids misbehave, can’t concentrate, are growing fatter every day and don’t know what healthy eating looks like except on government flyers. Will you sit by and let it be the same come Fall? Your kids will likely eat better when NOT in school.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I would like to add at least one: Pathetic.

Feel free to add your own adjectives.

 

Images and descriptions from:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2958640/Photos-school-lunches-served-world-reveal-just-meager-America-s-meals-compared-cash-strapped-nations.html

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Benefits of Reading – Infographic

This infographic about reading is so beautiful and so cool I just had to share!

The Metamorphosis Journal

82 delicious layer, 12 hours of work dedicated to those who adore reading and book. Feel free to share it, and if you wish to make a print of this for educational purposes, don’t hesitate to contact me in order to get a free, print-resolution copy.

benefits of reading

Update: Some people asked for a print of this infographic. But, unfortunately, they had problems with meeting printing requirements. If you wish to have it ready in print, it’s available here on Zazzle. You can change the size as it please you, but please consider keeping the text readable.

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Why do plants grow better after rain than when you water them?

Ever noticed that when you water your lawn/garden it politely says “thank you,” but essentially doesn’t look much different unless it was drought stricken to start? But then it rains, and it’s like the plant version of the “Hallelujah Chorus”! The plants not only perk up, but they practically leap up and suddenly you have new growth, flowers or a need to mow your lawn. Most people notice, but otherwise don’t think much of it, but some of us look at this dichotomy and think “What? Isn’t my water good enough for you? What does rain water have that mine doesn’t, or is it the chlorine slowing it down?”

Well, here’s the answer, and it isn’t the chlorine:

Composition of air

Most people think that air is primarily oxygen, since this is the gas we need to survive. However, the major component of air is nitrogen – 78.09% of it! Nitrogen is completely inert, meaning it the under normal conditions it has no positive or negative effects on our bodies (unless you scuba dive, but that’s not part of this post). Oxygen is only about 20.95% of the air we breathe, with the final 0.96% made up of trace gasses such as carbon dioxide (0.03%) and argon (0.93%).

So what does this have to do with plants? Nitrogen is a natural fertilizer, and when it rains it washes out of the air and fertilizes the plants as well as giving them a drink. (What a cool way God has designed to both water and feed the plants!)

Why doesn’t the atmosphere doesn’t contain a higher concentration of oxygen? It wasn’t designed to, for (at least) 2 excellent reasons:

  • Breathing pure oxygen for extended periods of time leads to oxygen toxicity (and a particular danger for premature babies that is better understood now than in the past);
  • oxygen is a potent accelerant, so if there was a greater concentration in the air, fires would be more common and more intense.

As Bill Nye, the Science Guy used to say, “Now you know…!”

“One Night in Bangkok” – video, back story and lyrics

One of my favorite music videos is “One Night in Bangkok” by Murray Head. The title might raise eyebrows, but it’s not what you think. It is a tale about a world chess tournament in Bangkok and the speaker’s opinion about the location and what goes on outside of the tournament. I am fond of music that tells a story, and this video does it well. (If there are any problems with the video here, just leave a comment and I will do my best to fix it.)

HISTORY / BACK STORY:
The song was originally sung by the British actor and pop-dance singer Murray Head (verses) and Swedish singer and songwriter Anders Glenmark (choruses) on the 1984 concept album for the musical “Chess.” Its music was composed by former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn K. Ulvaeus, and its lyrics were written by Tim Rice and Ulvaeus.

In the musical for which it was written, it is sung by the former American champion, who lost the previous year to the Russian. He is now in Bangkok as a TV commentator on (some say the referee for) the tournament between the defending Russian champion and a new Russian contender.

Tim Rice was interviewed about “Chess” and they asked about the location. He replied that he had noticed that other major world competitions were held in either the great capitols of the world or big cultural centers, while world chess tournaments seemed to be set in fairly unfashionable places or, at least on first glance, slightly odd places for events of such importance.

His aim was to contrast highbrow intellectual chess culture with the distinctly lowbrow attractions of Bangkok. Thus the American actor mocks those who only come to Bangkok for the sexploitative nightlife and other mundane attractions, looking down on what goes on, for he is there for the beauty of the game. This is shown by at least one double-entendre about Chess compared to the Bangkok nightlife -“I would invite you, but the queens we use would not excite you.” After all, it does seem a rather unusual place to have such a tournament if you understand that, at the time, chess was seen as a metaphor for the Cold War superpower struggle.

LYRICS:
Bangkok, Oriental setting,
and the city don’t know what the city is getting –
the crème de la crème of the chess world,
in a show with everything but Yul Brynner!

Time flies, doesn’t seem a minute
since the Tirolean Spa had the chess boys in it.
All change, don’t you know that when you
play at this level, there’s no ordinary venue.

It’s Iceland,
or the Philippines,
or Hastings,
or, or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster,
the bars are temples, but the pearls ain’t free.
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister,
and if you’re lucky then the god’s a “she.”
I can feel an angel sliding up to me.

One town’s very like another
when your head’s down over your pieces, brother.

It’s a drag, it’s a bore, it’s really such a pity,
to be looking at the board, not looking at the city!

Whaddya mean?!
Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town…

Tea girls, warm and sweet, (warm, sweet)
some are set up in the Somerset Maugham Suite.

“Get Thai’d!” You’re talking to a tourist
whose every moves are among the purest.
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble;
not much between despair and ecstasy.
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble;
can’t be too careful with your company.
I can feel the Devil walking next to me.

Siam’s gonna be the witness
to the ultimate test of cerebral fitness.
This grips me more than would
a muddy old river or reclining Buddha!

But thank God, I’m only watching the game, controlling it.

I don’t see you guys rating
the kind of mate I’m contemplating.
I’d let you watch, I would invite you,
but the queens we use would not excite you.

So you’d better go back to your bars…
your temples…your massage parlors…

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster.
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free.
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister,
a little flesh, a little history.
I can feel an angel sliding up to me.

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble;
not much between despair and ecstasy.
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble,
can’t be too careful with your company.
I can feel the Devil walking next to me.

========

For anyone who is interested, here is a link to the Musical: Chess, the original recording (audio, not videos, and has more storyline). A different production from the next link.)

This link is to a playlist which is just the music (the Broadway version is different than the original): Chess – Original Broadway Cast

And finally, here is a link to a review of the musical: AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Online Moon Phase Calendar

Sometimes you just want to know the phase of the moon. Is it waxing (getting larger) or waning (getting smaller)? When will be the full moon exactly? Stop any arguments about whether the moon is full today or not. Or maybe you are planting by the moon and need to keep track of that.

Here is an incredibly cool site with that kind of moon information.

I have created a static image for August 2016 because that image won’t show any other way.

August 2016 moonphase

However, click on the site link and you will see where you can find the moon phase calendar, full moon calendar, and other cool moon information.

Moon Giant website – Today’s moon phase

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The “Woman in the Window”

This isn’t a tale of fiction, or about the 1944 Edward G. Robinson “film noir,” but an explanation of Elizabeth, the woman who watches.

She’s familiar to neighbors, delivery people, the mailman, many who come up our driveway and (especially) the local kids, but they mostly just call her creepy. That’s fair enough because you can usually see her in the window even from across the street. It’s what she does, but not exactly why she came to be here.

We have a two-story, two-car garage, which is our only “attic” since the house has none. Built in the early 1900’s, it once stabled a few horses but was never finished up or downstairs. When we bought our house the garage windows facing the driveway looked sad and naked, so I put up curtains, added silk flowers in vases and, voilà! It looks proper enough from outside that most people think it’s functional space or even an apartment, though I tell all who ask that it’s just storage.

And so I unknowingly set the stage for the entrance of our unplanned “tenant,” the watching woman.

Time passed. One day I wanted to put away a dress form I wasn’t using, so I took it to the attic. I decided to put an old dress on it, and then added a cape, stabilizing its wobbly light wire structure, reducing its chances of being knocked over, and making it look more respectable. I was pleased with the result, and that was that. Then, some months later, it all came to a head.

When my daughter was young a neighbor gave her a beauty school practice head. She had a lovely time with it, but as she grew older she lost interest but still wanted to keep it, so when I took it to the “attic” I affixed it to the form because it seemed the logical place, Elizabeth came into being, and I became a kind of accidental Dr. Frankenstein.

Halloween came around, and on a whim I put her in a window facing the driveway–not so close to the front that she was completely obvious, but not too far back because most people don’t look up often. The effect was pretty much what I had hoped – she startled some and alarmed others. Even when they came up close and I explained her, she was still disturbing.

Part of the effect is the dark blue eye shadow that enhances her large eyes. Light and shadows of the passing day also change how well you see her. Then we have a solar-cell spotlight inside the window that shines up at her at night (it’s the only place we could physically put it), so the shadows cast look very spooky!

(If your computer can play it, set the video’s resolution to HD 1080)

Halloween came and went, and she was left to watch people come and go. However, time and familiarity hasn’t tempered her unsettling influence. In fact, in the last two weeks four people have mentioned her to me with nervous laughs as they glance furtively at her window.

Elizabeth’s debut was gratifying, but I never intended to make our neighbors wonder about us; I just didn’t move her because I got busy. But her continued presence provided unexpected benefits we didn’t want to give up. We have a security system, but that won’t prevent kids (and some adults!) from running up our drive, cutting through our yard and hopping the fence to get to the private street that abuts our back fence. Most of the time stopping them and politely asking them not to do that kept things fairly well in check, but you can’t very well sit in the drive all day! After she took up residence (so to speak) I pointed her out to some of the local boys and how it looked like she was “watching them.” The word got around, and shortcuts dropped dramatically!

I could share amusing stories about people’s reactions, but one was particularly dramatic. One evening our daughter rode home with a friend. They pulled up the drive, she got out, and as she walked in front of the car to the door her friend looked up, noticed Elizabeth in the window behind her, and screamed! My daughter says she doesn’t remember the specifics beyond that since “a lot of people…are scared of her,” but that one was most memorable.

A neighbor suggested putting up a second sign, next to the ADT sign, saying “Watch for Elizabeth, she’s always there,” but that could be a bit heavy-handed, so our “creepy” tenant is now a part of our security system.

You know, if it weren’t for her, I would mount our bat house on the wall facing the drive. It’s not only the best side for mosquito control, but also because it gets the hot afternoon sun that brown bats like. It’s true!

But…then we might have fewer guests, and the newspaper man might refuse to deliver to our door, so for the time being she retains the exclusive status of being our most interesting, if rather unsettling, topic of conversation.

She’s really not that bad. Come visit sometime and I will introduce you.

(Am I enjoying all this just a little too much?)

Creative Sentencing reduces recidivism dramatically

Our legal system has problems, and a lot of it is aggravated by by-the-book, one-size-fits-all sentencing that doesn’t take individuals into consideration rather than having the courage to take the time to come up with common sense, individualized sentences that are more effective than just putting people in jail willy-nilly. This judge is one of my favorites.

Friday Funny: Study claiming psychotic traits linked to conservatism gets reversed–finds liberalism more likely to have those traits

Watts Up With That?

From the friends of Stephan Lewandowsky, and upside-down Mann department

Fromm the movie "young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks. Igor peruses the brain of "Abby Normal" From the movie “Young Frankenstein” by Mel Brooks. Igor peruses the brain of “Abby Normal”

Ralph Dave Westfall submits this story:

Here’s an interesting example of possibly politicized research findings getting blown out of the water: Conservative political beliefs not linked to psychotic traits, as study claimed.

Researchers have fixed a number of papers after mistakenly reporting that people who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.

As one of the notices specifies, now it appears that liberal political beliefs are linked with psychoticism. That paper also swapped ideologies when reporting on people higher in neuroticism and social desirability (falsely claiming that you have socially desirable qualities); the original paper said those traits are linked with liberal beliefs, but they are more common among people with conservative values.

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Man Walking in Costa Rican Jungle Meets Ocelot Kitten!

It’s special being chosen by a cat–even more so when that cat is one of the big cats! Wildlife expert Coyote Peterson learned that first-hand the night he was in a Costa Rican jungle on an insect-research expedition and unexpectedly had an encounter of the up-close-and-purrsonal kind with a friendly ocelot kitten.

Video

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:

>>>>>>>

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.

<<<<<<<

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.

>>>>>>>

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.

<<<<<<<

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.

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