Saturday, August 20, 2005

Is that a gas leak, or a durian?

I tasted a durian today for the first time. After years of hearing about the legendary stinky fruit, I finally met one in person.

I was at Whole Foods and right near the doors, there was a very tall, frighteningly thin woman handing out samples of durian. Well, she wasn't just handing them out - she was really sort of evangelizing about them. Her zeal for durian was of a manic level only usually seen in TV preachers and Ron Popeil.

Because she was by the open doors, the level of stink wasn't too bad, but it was definitely there - a funk that smelled like a powerful gas leak mixed with poo.

But I had to try the durian, so I forged on. She made me take a taste, which had a powerful gas-leak flavor. Not good. Then she MADE me take a second, which she said would be so good, sweet and creamy, it would erase the first. Not so. The second was about 30 percent better, but still nasty enough to make me look around for something else to sample.

She asked me how I liked it. I said "As long as there is cherimoya in the world, I don't need durian."

Oh my. Those were fighting words. She was outraged .

"This is BETTER than cherimoya," she shrieked. "Much better!! Cherimoya is nowhere near as good as durian, and durian is much better for you."

I scurried away to buy other vegetables and overheard her telling people, among other things, that the wonderful durian could raise your seratonin level. Whatever.

But there are many durian fans out there. Here are some links to durian fansites.

Durian On-Line Homepage. This one mentions farting in the first paragraph. Hm.

Durian Palace. With links to articles about durian-flavored condoms and a durian that sparked a terrorist alert in Australia.

Wikipedia has to weigh in, including some bits about how one can get killed by a durian if not careful (by one falling, not by consuming one).

A westerner tells his tale of converting to durian love, though he mentions another possible way to die by durian.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Los Angeles Tofu Festival

Some of the day's offerings.

This photo would have been better, but I had to shoot around someone who just would NOT move...

My kind of event. Lots and lots of tofu and mostly vegetarian. A place where tofu is the star, not a dirty word.

The Los Angeles Tofu Festival kicks off Nisei Week in Little Tokyo (also known as J-Town) downtown Los Angeles. The event is a benefit for the Japanese Service Center. It is about 50 booths selling tofu-based or soy-based food items, plus entertainment and vendors. This year's theme was "Tofuzilla," so of course I had to buy the t-shirt.

Me, Mr. Snackish and food-loving vegetarian friend Martha met to take in the festival. It was a nice warm day, not blistering hot. We even got a little breeze a few times.

We walked around and sampled the food. We didn't have anything amazingly good, but a good time was had by all.

Smoked tofu salad with lemongrass was pretty good.

These folks were having a great time making onigiri sushi.

This guy was eating something that I didn't get to try, but looked great - really fresh tofu with strawberries, strawberry-orange sauce and sliced almonds.

2 creative items - tofu chili in a bread bowl and tofu spam musubi, a Hawaiian treat.

Dessert - red bean paste in a tofu crust.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Too funny to pass up

Go to this Chowhound post and click on the link. The attached pdf file has some of the worst writing I have ever read on a menu or off.

By the time I was done reading the description of "Sweet Fire and Ice," a restaurant in New Orleans (hint: they have 25 different cheesecake-flavored martinis) I had lost my appetite.

Overblown, adjective-stuffed, repetitive - it is an English teacher's worst nightmare. Made me laugh. Your mileage may vary.