project omniherbivore: durian

I’ve always been curious to try eating a durian. For those of you who haven’t encountered it, durian’s a fruit that’s popular in Southeast Asia; I think I first encountered it on an episode of “That’s Incredible!” in the ’70s, where somebody described it by saying it “tastes like heaven and stinks like hell.” I am particularly fond of this Jan Chipchase photo of a karaoke bus; the second of the forbidden things it represents is durian.

This weekend, I went to my friends Maegan and Leo’s wedding up at Seattle. They had a very impressive banquet at their reception: several dozen dishes, many of them made by their friends, including Ethiopian vegetarian food, a roast whole pig, nasi goreng, and… a durian. It was under a glass dome, but anyone who got close enough to it got a whiff anyway; as promised, it smells like a particularly horrible dumpster full of rotting garbage. But I grabbed a scoop of it, put it on my plate, and immediately shoveled it into my mouth, whereupon as promised it became sweet with some curious savory notes, vaguely floral, and delicious. Then I wiped the remainder off my plate with a napkin so my plate wouldn’t smell like it any more.

Conclusion: I’d happily eat it again, but I’d have to make sure my nose was plugged first.

In other news, I’m doing a couple of panels at this weekend’s Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD: a Q&A with the astonishing C. Tyler, and a critics’ roundtable with Rob Clough, Sean Collins, Gary Groth, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone and Bill Kartalopoulos. It should be fun–come say hi if you’re in the area!