In Search of Analogy: Clam is to Gummy Bear as Durian is to __________

When I was seven my dad coaxed me into eating a clam by comparing it to a gummy bear.  The analogy (or, well-intentioned falsehood) required a stretch of the imagination, but got the clam into my mouth.  And while, even at seven, I understood the “gummy bear perspective” from textural standpoint, I knew had been bamboozled.


Being seven, and my dad being my dad, this was not the first time I’d been convinced to eat something against my wishes, so I took no offense the clam’s complete lack of confectionary qualities.  In retrospect, I was really not surprised at all.  Santa Claus might fly over rooftops, I might be an Olympic speed skater someday, and it might be common knowledge that the uglier dolls get very jealous of new toys so they require a designated playtime so they don’t turn evil, but from the get-go, I knew that this thing would never be a gummy bear.


I also knew, that refusal of the clam would be in vain.  Too many times had I declined a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on my spaghetti, only to find a pile of the stuff appear on my plate.  This was a typical scene at my family table.


In the end, I quite enjoyed the clam and today, I pride myself on being a relatively adventurous eater. (Thanks Dad).   I recount this story because in a month, my daring will be put to the test when I travel to Singapore.


I have this incredible opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia because I was invited to go by my Co-Conspirator of Adventure and Food (an official title), who was offered an amazing job there for three months.   There will be so many stories to tell while I’m there and I intend to do much writing.


I set off on my adventure in March and until that time, I will be reading a lot about Durian.


Yes. Durian.  And I’m a little nervous.


About the size and shape of a football and covered in prehistoric-looking spikes, the Durian fruit is banned and outlawed in many public spaces and by airlines in Southeast Asia.  Growing mainly in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, Durian is famous for its nauseating smell.  Harold McGee, in On Food and Cooking, compares the odor to “onions, cheese and meat at various stages of decay.”    Still, it is one of the most prized and mysterious fruits in the world.


With some research of what lays before me, I have discovered that the stench and retch-producing sulfur compounds exist primarily in the fruit’s rind, while the “custard-like” interior is extremely high in sugar and has a more palatable fruit-like flavor.  Therefore, it’s just a matter of getting past the smell to get the sweet fruit into your mouth.  The problem being that my nose is awfully close to my mouth and difficult to avoid when things are placed in the general, face vicinity.   While the desirability of such a retched smelling fruit mystifies the bejesus out of me, I’m excited to discover why it is coveted by so many.   Either this is a massive scale retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” or there is truly something to be found here.


I think back to the clams and I am in search of a gummy bear-type analogy to keep in my back pocket for when I am face-to-face with the Durian.   If only they weren’t outlawed on planes, I could bring one back for my dad.




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9 responses to “In Search of Analogy: Clam is to Gummy Bear as Durian is to __________

  1. Jackie

    You will be shocked to know that I have indeed had durian and it is not as bad as the rumors, however, it is something I would probably never have again…

    I had this little jewel at Umami (a Japanese restaurant–NOT sushi–which is unfortunately what we realized after we sat down)

    It was served as a pudding-type desert. One of my fellow diners had heard of it before and wanted to see if it really did taste like a dying corpse.

    I have to say, it wasn’t awful….however…..

    it’s an acquired taste.

  2. 1.) SINGAPORE?!?!?! That’s awesome!

    2.) My mom tried tricking me into tasting V8 juice by comparing it to Skyline Chili. WHAT?!?! First of all, even at the age of seven I knew that I did not have any desire to DRINK Skyline chili, and even if I did, the two things are not that similar. I have not had another sip of V8 in over 20 years!!

    3.) I think that durian is one of the few foods that Andrew Zimmern (of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods”) actually spit out. That’s pretty harsh, considering the guy eats grubs and rotten shark. Good luck with that one–can’t wait to hear about it! 🙂

  3. Maureen Brady Johnson

    Marissa…SO EXCITED about your trip. I will be following your blog… Are you there for a short visit or the three months???
    Take care…Be safe.

  4. Matthew Sivulich

    Have a good trip! bring me back something nice.

  5. 1. Use of the word bamboozled – love it!
    2. Can’t wait to see what you get into in Singapore! What a once in a lifetime experience.
    3. Durian. Just do it! Approach it like a band aid you’ve gotta rip off. Although, I hated when my mom would tell me to do that…

  6. adinapatsy

    Marisa being from the medical profession I wont say what that last picture of Syrian evoked but your Dad will know. Visualizing it has settled my decision to never eat anything that looks like an autopsy. Brave brave you! Love your writing! Kriss Ann Loughman (ádinapatsy) my old chihuahuas.

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