Beware the Durian

Last week I was able to visit my bestie, Sondra, in Portland for a couple of days. It was a much needed girls weekend of catching up and quality time. Whilst away from my coastal bubble, she treated me to three new things I’d never tried before; chocolate ribs, durian crème brulee, and sake. (I vaguely recall I may have had sake at one point during a karaoke night several lifetimes ago, but that night is hazy, to put it politely.)

Anywhoo, the ribs were DELICIOUS, and the warm sake was delightful.

And the durian….well, the durian was…a new experience.

I’m a die-hard fan of crème brulee, so it was an easy choice. The waitress tried to explain in stilted English, that not everyone likes durian. I smiled and said, “How do I know I won’t like it if I don’t at least try it?”

She nodded and agreed and brought out our order. Meanwhile, I quickly googled “durian” to find out what would have warranted a warning.

“the smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage.”


Welp. I still held to the idea that I can’t say I don’t like it if I don’t at least try it.

The presentation was lovely with an edible pansy, and the sugar crust was yummy, as expected. But the pudding base with durian was unfamiliar, strange. It wasn’t the consistency of a dairy pudding base, but probably coconut milk, and the durian itself was savory, rather than sweet.

I ate about half of the dessert before I came to a conclusion that durian must be an acquired taste. It wasn’t bad, per se, nor was it delicious. It was simply unusual and difficult to classify. I probably wouldn’t order it again, but I deeply respected that the Nudi Palace had traditional ingredients that were probably difficult for folks from Southeast Asia to find from home whilst in Portland. I imagine it’s a favorite comfort dish for people when they need a taste of home and some durian, which you’re not going to find at many establishments around town.

Dinner with my bestie was a wonderful treat, and then we headed to the store to pick up more sake (and Girl Scout cookies) and take home for some girl talk.

About half an hour after I ate the durian—the trouble began.

The burps. Not just any burps, but the burps from durian hell. Rotten stanky death burps as though Beelzebub himself were farting out my mouth.

I couldn’t tell if it was an allergic reaction to an unknown fruit, or if I’d just eaten too much. A couple of times I rushed Sondra down the aisle, worried I was burping a trail of doom that would point to us both as we lingered near the wine row.

Worse, as I stood at the register and the cute guy handling our sake got chatty, checking the weather report, and asking questions, I kept trying not to burp in his face. I’d smile, chat, then inhale my hiccups, hoping I wasn’t inflating myself…but couldn’t bear the thought of wafting on him with “rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage”. He has no idea how close he came to the pit of hell.

I burped for the rest of the night. Poor dear Sondra.

The rest of the trip was awesome. We went for a short walk in the snow, and made a trip to Powells. I was so excited to be near a book store after months on the coast that I completely forgot about my Powells ban, and bought a couple of books. I found the version of the Book of Kells research book I’d previously ordered from Amazon, but my order was cancelled by the seller. Dangit. But found it at Powells for just a couple of bucks more. Back to the research.

We stocked up on food and went home, where she made the most amazing pumpkin bites (so rich and decadent) then we curled up and watch Sense8. A perfect day, indeed.

It felt like a two day vacation, because that’s what it was. I didn’t realize how badly I’d needed some girl talk and down time until I drove home feeling so refreshed. In fact, I felt so much better when I got home, I started wondering what I need to do differently to keep myself from burning out.

In the last couple of months I’ve been driving hard, pushing like there might not be a tomorrow on the horizon for my writing. Panic work. The very real reality of needing to go back to a paying job looms on the horizon, and I’ve been burning at both ends to try and get as much done as I can before that bingo point occurs.

I hadn’t realized how exhausted I was, until I took a small break. I know I can’t continue at the pace I’ve been going, but I also know, I might not have much longer to be doing what brings me the most happiness and satisfaction…it’s a tight race to get the books completed, before I’m not in a position to be able to write full time again.

There’s also something important to be said about spending time with people I love. I need to make that happen more often. That quality time in very much needed and appreciated.

Thank you, Sondra. Thank you for being such a huge supporter. Thank you for being my friend for the last hundred years. Thank you for encouraging me to slow down, breathe, and be in the moment. I love you. I’m grateful for you. I appreciate you for all that you are.

And thank you for surviving the durian burps…that there, is true friendship.

Author: Athena

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