Since chocolate cake is hard to come by in China, I celebrate my birthday with durian, or in Chinese, liú lián. I forgo the candles. While shock value bloggers have given this Asian delicacy a bad rap, I like it. My nose is smell-blind to it. Actually, the odor of durian doesn’t even make my Top Ten Worse Chinese Smells list. That list would begin with Stinky tofu. The smell is sour and thick and somewhat fermented, almost as menacing to your sinuses as a Covid nose jab.
Another odor on the list of worst Asian smells would be the fumes of mugwort permeating from a Chinese Traditional Medicine Hospital or Blind Massage.
Enough with the smell already. What does this odoriferous fruit taste like? The texture of durian is squishy like guacamole. The taste is almondy and creamy with a tinge of onion. It’s like marzipan packaged in a spiky football, one with the same girth and weight as an unshelled coconut.
Durian isn’t cheap or photogenic. These two sections, from the day-old rack, cost about 30RMB. And just what could you have purchased instead of a delicacy that resembles large bug larva for thirty RMB?
Instead of two pieces of durian, you could get a haircut.
Or two bowls of noodles at a tourist attraction.
Or six local beers or three bottles of imports.
Thirty RMB will also get you five street potatoes.
Or one jar of bootleg Skippy.
Or, about one of everything at a road-side hiker stand.
Thirty RMB (yuan) is about six American bucks.