Today was a last lab. Well... more like a last lecture that took place in the lab room. Weird? Yes. Fun? Hells yeahs. For my ethnobotany class the last lecture was a "Food lab" aka party. We ate at least one thing from every (edible) plant family we learned about over the course of the semester. Most things were delicious... one thing was not. It smelled like vomit, but no self respecting botanist, or botanist-to-be, can approach any edible fruit and pass judgement without trying it at least once. Apparently this is the rule... or so my TA told me. Sounds like a good rule. How can you fully study and understand something unless you give it the benefit of the doubt?
The fruit I sampled was Durian (Durio zibetninus). The durian is the fruit of trees of the genus Durio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows and linden trees. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits," the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique (insert repulsive) odor, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the color of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale-yellow to red, depending on the species. The hard outer husk is covered with sharp, prickly thorns while the edible flesh within emits a distinctive odor. This odor is regarded as either fragrant or overpowering and offensive. The odor of the ripe fruit is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Due to the unusual odor, the durian is forbidden from certain establishments such as hotels and public transportations in Southeast Asia (because it'll make you want to die). The odor has prompted many people to formulate evocative descriptions with views ranging from those of deep appreciation (I'd really like to meet this person) to intense disgust (general response).
Upon my challenge to eat this 'delightful' specimen I promptly plugged my nose, swallowed my pride and ate it. Immediately I gagged on the warm custard like consistency and repulsive flavor. But I swallowed it, bringing tears to my eyes. The taste was somewhere between rotten meat and vomit mixed with a hint of death. It had to be the most disgusting thing I've ever placed in my mouth, let alone eaten. I've licked some gross shit in my days... but never have I ever felt like I was going to throw up my intestines as a gag response to something. If ever I had to design an initiation for someone, this would be it. Perhaps that's why I was challenged... in that case, I suppose I've been hazed into the botany family of flowerly love. Hell yeah. Today I'm a bad ass.