The past week at create-a-cook has been Around the World in 5 days. We all chose recipes that we hoped would introduce the kids to some new things. On my side in savory they made Picadillo, Paella, Salad Nicoise, Jerk Chicken. Chicken Mole, Moroccan Kebabs and couscous, and a couple of stir fry.
We hadn't chosen a field trip yet for the week when I suggested maybe Super 88 would be a great place.
I took R over on Wednesday to show her around so she could lead the troops though on Thursday.
Super 88, for the uninitiated is a local chain of Asian Grocery stores that carries an enormous range of fresh produce, live seafood and every imaginable pickle, chutney and chow chow ingredient.
I walked R through the produce explaining the yard long beans, the various peppers and mushrooms, the Chinese Chive, Thai eggplants and Dragon fruit.
I tried to find the elusive bottle of 'Essence of Giant WaterBug' that I saw on my last trip. What? You've never had Giant WaterBug? Shame on you! Here, try some Giant Waterbug curry.
They did, however, have a bottle of Durian Essence. More on that later.
We wandered down towards the live tanks and I showed her the box of live conch and Blue Crab. The tanks were full of Tilapia, Giant Carp and a few other fish I didn't recognize. The case of cut fish had one labeled 'Giant Head Fish'. Talk about understatement.
I took her over to the meat section and we talked about the Asians being the original recyclers. No part of the animal was ever wasted. There were a few items in these cases that I thought would surely make the kids who were already wary of touching raw meat go right over the line to land of vegetarians.
We saw packages of Duck Tongue, Chicken feet (seasoned and not), tripe as well as another cow stomach that looked very different more solid less netted, pig heart, pig ears, intestine, and my personal favourite package was....Cock's testicles. What do you do with an entire package of cock's testicles? Make poppers?
I remembered that one fruit was kept over in the meat section and I led her towards the case.
I explained the Durian fruit, the smell like that of putrid flesh, how it is banned from airplanes and hotels because of the stench. Of course, we bought one. We also picked up a Dragon fruit and some fresh lychee for the kids to try back at c-a-c on Friday.
Friday, back at c-a-c, I went in to each classroom when I arrived and asked how everyone liked their trip. The girls had tried bubble tea. Some loved it and some were disgusted by the big tapioca balls. They all pointed to one of the girls and said I should have seen her face when she unknowingly sucked on the straw and got a huge pearl in her mouth. They ate lunch in the food court, some trying Indian, some Thai. R said that they looked at everything but that it was hard to keep them all together to explain about all the things. She said once they found the candy aisle it was all over. I had mentioned Pocky to some of them and they couldn't wait to tell me that they had bought them and thought they were yummy.
After lunch before we started the second session I gathered the troops in my kitchen to try the fruits. I started with the lychee. B had made a fruit salad with a vanilla syrup using canned lychee and the kids all hated the lychee. I didn't want their first,and potentially last, impression of a lychee to be from a can. I explained that like eating a peach from a can and then eating a fresh peach, both the taste as well as the texture would be very different with the fresh. I showed them how to peel them open and then told them not to eat the seed. There were a few pulled faces and a couple wanders over to the trash can, but quite a few of them 'got it'. They realised the difference and commented that they really liked the fresh lychee. Score 1!
Next I explained the dragon fruit, showed them them the gorgeous inside. We sprinkled it with lemon juice and I peeled off the beautiful fuscia skin and handed out chunks to the hands waving in front of me. Approval all around. The general consensus was kiwi flavour and texture. Not bad. Score 2!
I saved the best for last. Hoping to appeal to the 11 - 13 year old love for horror and all things disgusting, I talked about the smell of putrid or rotting flesh. Hoping to appeal to their sense of the forbidden I explained about the banishment of the fruit from public places. I passed around the whole fruit for them to smell the outside and to press on the spiny outside to feel that it is soft inside. The range of response to the smell of the outside was very interesting. I like the the smell and consider it sweet as did some others, some thought it just smelled 'gross', the teen word of choice. Others didn't smell much at all. I laid it down on the cutting board and sliced my knife through it.
"Is that how you cut it?" they asked.
I told them I had no idea as I had never had one either. I kept saying you only live once, you have to try everything. I twisted the fruit open and showed them the chambers full of seed and custard inside. "Cool!" was the cry. I passed it around for everyone to smell it. I have to say that the smell is indeed pretty disgusting although I really didn't get putrid, or rotting flesh. Perhaps the length of time it traveled or it's ripeness had something to do with the smell we got. Everyone made faces and winced as it was passed around.
"Alright! Who's going to try some?"
No hands were raised.
"Come on you guys, you only live once, let's try it!"
R went and got some spoons and I scooped out some custard and scraped it on to spoons. One brave soul put her hand out, then two, then three. Finally after the first person tasted it and didn't gag all 20 hands came in for a scoopful of the fruit. I can't say I would need to eat it again. Rather like goat cheese can sometimes taste like a goat smells, with Durian fruit the first taste on the tongue is of a very sweet custardy pudding, the aftertaste however, is quite a bit like the cut Durian smells, a bit rotten, a bit stinky and not a thing I feel a need to repeat.
But proud! How proud I was of 20 sheltered eaters raised on take-out and restaurants who had never heard of paella or picadillo before this week eating Durian fruit.
Damn! What next liver?