I have a lasting curiosity and love of tropical fruits, the weirder the better. Some of this comes from all the time I've spent at ECHO in Florida, where I learned that the apple of Adam-and-Eve fame was more likely to have been a rose apple. And even though I draw the line at larvae (see this post), I love trying new foods and am fairly adventurous that way. And tropical fruit, WELL, what more delightful way to explore new flavors?
Imagine a giant spiny fruit that stinks, like sulpher and onions gone wrong. Stinks so badly that it's banned from some hotels and buses in Indonesia. This same fruit tastes like a custardy piece of sweet heaven. A fruit that polarizes the population into two camps, those who passionately love and whose who completely abhor. I had heard about durians for years, and had wanted to get my greedy little hands on one so I could see for myself this dichotomy. My friend Becky (super healthy lovely raw-foods-only) confessed once that she loves durians, and also told me that you can find them in the freezer section at the local Asian grocery store. The first durian I bought became the centerpiece of a potluck soon thereafter. Yes, half of us loved it, half hated it.
Being recently back from the tropics and yearning for any sign of spring and any break from the blandness of Ithaca in early March, I took a durian over the Becky's house a few days ago. Her small daughter also loves them. We cracked it open and gleefully devoured the ice-cream-like deliciousness inside. There are five pods inside, each with a few large seeds. It was frozen, so the smell was minimized. I can imagine it's a whole different thing on a hot day in the sunshine.
Look at this thing. Who was the first person to say "hmmm, this big spiny thing that fell out of the tree and smells weird...let's EAT it!"