For years, I have read references to the notorious durian, a Southeast Asian fruit rumored to be delicious, nutritious, and vile-smelling. The idea of it was always highly amusing, one of those oddities of nature that makes you wonder, who was the first brave caveman or cavewoman to chance upon one of these foul, thorny things and say, "gee, I wonder what that tastes like?" But even while living in a mostly-Vietnamese neighborhood in Oakland, I managed to miss out on the Durian Experience.
Yesterday at work, I came out of a meeting with two managers and something wasn't right in the air. I immediately announced, "I think there's a gas leak in the building. We might need to evacuate", and the two young Chinese girls in the billing department burst into uncontrollable giggling. "She brought it", one said, and the other started blushing. "Brought what?..." I started, then my memory for trivia kicked in. "Is that a DURIAN?" Turned out that they sell durian-flavored COOKIES too, which smell pretty strong in their own right. "Oh, I've always wanted to try them!" our Filipina CFO enthused, and took one. My coworker waved the package my way, asking if I wanted one too, but my nausea overpowered my curiosity. "Sorry, I can't handle it." "I'll cover it up", she said bashfully, wrapping her package in double plastic bags, while I felt like a xenophobic coward. (Multiculturalism FAIL, I thought to myself.) Another day and I might have gone for it, just for the experience, but phew. If that's how the cookies smell, I can only imagine what the real thing must be like.