Saturday, July 02, 2011

Orient excess

Two angles on greyish-pink Brits in unfamiliar climes, each of them to some extent food-related. The first is from Stewart Lee’s most recent TV show:

And then from AA Gill’s Table Talk collection, a discussion of durian:
Inside, the flesh is marmoreally slimy, some say silky. Personally, I think it’s like lost babies who have been drowned in baths of whey. The flesh clings to the stones like putrefying muscle. You have to suck and nibble. Few Westerners manage that twice... It defies categorisation and nothing so marks the yawning gulf between hot East and cool West as this strange, misbegotten Caliban food – a vegetable that thinks it’s a cadaver.


expat@large said...

I think AA Gill is far too lenient on the evils of the durian.

Richard Lloyd Parry said...

Compare Alfred Russle Wallace in 'The Malay Archipelago': "Its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience."

Tim F said...

I think most would agree that the durian tastes better than it smells. The question is whether the taste is special enough for you to have to put up with the smell. But if it encourages wordsmiths such as Gill and Wallace to attempt - and ultimately fail – to describe it so eloquently, it's doing a service.