Sunday, February 03, 2008
Force Fed on Durian Love
When I was a wee lass growing up in Phnom Penh, one of the signs that my oft-traveling father was nearing home was the kitchen appearance of the thorny sexy durian fruit in all its spiky glory (people die wandering below its trees unaware, just so you know). Much is written about this most-maligned fruit in the foodie world that I needn't bother. Oh OK, I will bother. It's like the foie gras of the fruit world, neatly dividing eaters into two camps: slaves and heretics. Unlike foie gras, the only torture to be endured is the scent; the taste is not unlike heaven.
So when pops came home from his travels to France or the states, we kids would gather around the fruit, giddy with excitement as our taste buds started Pavloving away. Pa would show off his durian brandishing skills with much pomp and circumstance (I'm talking to you, Anthony Bourdain!), deftly prying each compartment gently open to expose plump custardy membranes, each one curled in undisturbed slumber. Then we would devour them, thoroughly, sitting in a circle, until one by one, the custard disappeared. Much more than just the taste, durians to me have always stood for poignant reunions and homecomings, long ago centered around my father, until a few years ago around my younger sister who strayed the furthest from the rest of us (picking her up from the airport meant a trip to the produce section of the 99 Ranch Market), these days around myself when I return home from Argentina.
Long live the durian! Also--you haven't lived until you try my mom's coconut sticky rice with durian pudding. Wanna meet mom?