Happy Monday, friends.
It’s well into the afternoon before I’m even finding my blog today, but that’s ok. Some days, especially when you’re the mama of a four year-old, there are other things that are way more important. Like smearing copious amounts of red glitter glue all over paper and thankfully not the table.
We created a memory. A sticky, sparkly one…and I’m breathing thanks for it and for my sweet girl today.
It’s so funny. Every Monday, after I’ve posted, I tell myself that next week I’ll get this all ready to go before Monday.
I never do. Never.
Thus proving to all of you that I am a procrastinator in the truest sense of the word. 😉
Honestly, the weekend was a good one…it was busy enough and I’m still run down enough from being sick…that last night I was tired. I watched tv instead. (And that’s ok…I’m giving myself permission for things like that lately.)
And even though there’s always an elevation in my heart rate when I share a new story, I love handing over this piece of my heart to all of you. Even almost five years after life in Indonesia, that time in our lives still remains such a precious part of who I am. I embrace that, especially on the days when I want rice for breakfast.
This is one of my more quirky stories. I remember writing it at Starbucks late on a Wednesday night two years ago…there was laughter between sentences and a lot of caffeine flowing, and it’s still one of my favorites.
I love hearing from all of you, but especially if you’ve tried durian, I’d love to hear your thoughts. After all…this is just one snarky opinion, written by someone who’s not completely Indonesian.
And there are durian lovers out there…kind of a lot of them.
Enjoy. (And please forgive the quote I used…it may have been the most accurate and descriptive I could find.)
Indescribable, something you will either love or despise…Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.
From practically the moment we stepped into the country of Indonesia, and probably even before, we’d heard about it.
The elusive, unique, all-its-own-kind, supposedly-wonderful-but-often-detested, fruit so pungent it was banned from many places including airplanes, most hotels, and even mass transit systems.
Tell me…after that description, would you have high hopes?
Most people never do. You can smell the stuff just passing by a stall where it’s sold on the street and its hard, outer, spiky shell has yet to be cracked open.
But for some reason, I did.
Have high hopes, that is.
It was rumored to have once been an event on Fear Factor, and that alone was enough to pique the curiosity of this girl who planned to adventure as much as possible during her time in Indonesia.
And not only was it in fruit form, you could buy it in ice cream or baked into bread or it could even surprise you when you bit into a donut.
Believe it or not we didn’t dive into trying it immediately. First of all, a chance didn’t exactly fall into our laps, and it didn’t come squirting out of a donut either…thank you, God, for that. And so we never even pushed for a chance to give it a try.
Maybe it’s because the smell was truly enough for me.
Our opportunity finally came in the spring of our first year.
We had some good friends who were Indonesian, and they wanted us to take us to the Chinatown area of Bandung for dinner one Saturday night. Tobin and I drove our motorbike, following them on theirs, to a tucked-away section of the city I had never known existed, and had an amazingly good meal of pork nasi goreng and pisang goreng with chocolate and cheese. (I actually still think of this night often…that was some pretty good food.)
After dinner we walked around the area a little and decided to go out for “dessert.” (Funny, because I thought the cheesy, chocolate banana qualified as dessert.)
It was quite the bike ride to get to our destination, but they finally pulled over in front of a stand at the side of a pretty busy street.
I’m not sure if I’m excited or not to make your acquaintance just yet.
Our wonderful friends knew what they were doing, and we clearly did not, so we just stood and watched as they paid for one of these large, brown, spiky fruits…an object that I was sure could be of far better use as a piece of sports equipment rather than something to eat.
But if so many people raved over this delicacy, there had to be something to love about it, right?
Our friends took the fruit, which was now cracked open, and offered us some. They showed us how to pull out a section, which we both did so, reluctantly, taking the smallest pieces.
Watching them start to eat, clearly enjoying the entire experience, we put the fruit into our mouths.
Actually, I’m still not sure why it is even classified as a fruit…it tasted like stinky gym socks with a little garlic thrown in there.
And I do believe that was a very kind statement.
I choked it down and, probably-less-than-politely, declined seconds.
And I managed to keep it down, too, which I believe qualifies as a success worthy of some kind of medal. For it was truly that bad and it took all I had to keep myself from losing my dinner on the side of the road.
But the one thing everyone says about durian is that to appreciate it, you have to try it three separate times. Two of my friends even attested to this fact…after three times they liked it.
Honestly, that was hard to fathom after the one bite I had, quite literally, choked down.
Enter time number two.
As a birthday party/introduction to the Indonesian culture for new staff, several girls hosted a fruit party at their house. The party itself was actually a great idea…there are tons of incredible fruits available in Indonesia, and I would never turn down a chance to eat manggis (my favorite!) or rambutan.
After we’d all tried the good stuff, one of our hosts pulled out the durian.
In my head, I’m thinking…this is my second time. Surely it’s got to taste better than the first.
I watched the birthday girl have her first taste, and she swallowed it down like a pro, even exclaiming, Oh, it’s not that bad!
I just figured we’d lucked out and ended up with an exceptionally wonderful piece of this particular fruit, and her exclamation was followed by a few others who ate it and liked, or at least tolerated, it.
The pressure is kinda on here, Mel…
I reached for a bite, popped it in my mouth…and…
Ok, ok, so I didn’t throw up, though if I had let it hit the back of my throat, I’m quite certain I would have lost my breakfast or lunch or whatever meal I’d eaten previous to the party.
That time, I spit it out right into my hand. I didn’t care who was watching.
And thought, What the heck does everyone see in this nastiness masquerading as a fruit?!
It was quite a while…over a year later…before I even wanted to go for my third try. I was pretty much convinced, by that time, that it was pointless.
Some friends and I were at a local shopping mall, and we passed one of my favorite restaurants there, which also served gelato. The workers there were always great about letting us sample the different flavors, and I noticed that there was durian flavored gelato.
Yes, yes, I realize what you are thinking by this point. Durian-flavored gelato is NOT the same as durian. Point well taken.
But if you want a happy ending to this durian-sized fairy tale, this is going to have to be it.
I took a bite.
Of course, we are talking about gelato here. Not some silly, spiky, grayish-brown, somewhat-spherical fruit.
Then I asked for another sample. Chocolate chip to wash the flavor down. 😉
And that, my friends, is where the saga of my life with durian ends.
That third attempt, in the form of an ice-creamish substance, was my last time.
The truth is that I think everything is worth trying once. Or even three-ish times. But sometimes, there’s just no hope, and it’s best to move on to things we do like. Like cheesy, chocolate, fried bananas.
A year and a half later, we left Indonesia. Among the very long list of foods I was sad to leave behind were most of the wonderful gelato flavors available there, my favorite fruits, and many Indonesian foods.
But durian-flavored…anything…didn’t make the cut.
And I’m totally good with that. 😉
The stories I’m sharing are about a place and people who are in my heart forever…I never want to paint a negative image of them or their amazing country. Therefore, I ask for your grace over each word and story. I pray that I share these words well.
The above is an excerpt from Lessons From Indonesia: On Life, Love, and Squatty Potties. All words and stories are my own and are copyrighted through Amazon publishing. Feel free to read them, but please ask for permission before sharing them.