Let’s step back a moment and take a look at what is simultaneously one of mankind’s greatest gifts and foulest curses: curiosity.
On the bright side, curiosity has led to many of mankind’s greatest feats and innovations. We never would have discovered gravity, learned to fly or landed on the moon were it not for curiosity. But on the other hand, curiosity has pulled us through some awful and embarrassing situations, thumbing its nose at us as we dust ourselves off and gleefully waiting for the next catastrophe to pique our interest, knowing we never learn.
Take this fruit, for example:
This macehead of a fruit is a durian, grown in Southeast Asia. It is a food that, by all intents and purposes, God tried to tell us not to eat. He covered it in spikes. He made the inner pulp look like the castoff of a liposuction procedure. He makes it grow so high in trees that when it ripens and drops, it could knock you out. And, above all, He made it smell. Bad. So bad that in many locales you aren’t allowed to take a durian on a bus or inside certain buildings.
And yet it’s a staple of Southeastern Asian cuisine, even going so far as to call it the “king of fruits.” It’s a paradox that makes me take a look back at this strange creation with a more open mind and conclude one thing: they have to be lying.
Of course they are. They have all these trees infesting their land growing spiked crap bombs and what are they going to do? Tell everyone how miserable the stuff is? That’d be awful for tourism! What you do is capitalize on the unwavering curiosity of man to draw them to your location for the purpose of placing something in their mouth God never intended to be there.
The proof for me resides in an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Zimmern is a man outright paid to place things in his mouth God never intended to be there, and more often than not enjoys it. The durian was a natural draw for his trip to Thailand and while at a durian stand (yes, a durian stand) he asked some locals what they thought of the smell. The adults described it as “very good” or “special,” but there was one little boy in a Gatomon* shirt who they obviously hadn’t taught how to “appreciate” the durian in front of foreigners, holding his nose and running away from the fruit like it was the Bob Dylan Christmas album.
The time came for Zimmern to try it, and that he did. Now this was the time I was fully expecting him to chew for a bit, look to the camera and say how it wasn’t really half bad; that sometimes spiky, rotten-smelling death fruit can actually yield some redeeming qualities and we’d all engage in a cross-cultural, culinary Kumbaya.
He spat it out, right in front of the durian farmer. He never spits anything out.
So yeah, there are some out there who say they eat the stuff and like it; that you could like it, too. I don’t know who pays them off, but they’re liars, every last one of them. When a man who’s consumed the testicles of half of God’s creatures can’t swallow a piece of durian, you’re looking at something evil.
But with all that said, if you offered me an opportunity to try the durian for myself, would I do it? Even after all I’ve said about it?
Probably; and I bet you would, too. Curiosity has a place on its wall to hang pictures of our disgusted faces and, through some strange way we’re wired, there’s a sort of honor in being up there.
[*I don’t know what’s worse: the fact I actually know and retain this crap or the fact that I’m so willing to let you know I know it.]