Alright, so we celebrated our ‘birthday’ back in February, which is when we decided on the idea, purchased the site, and began the building. That all came to fruition on July 1st when we had our official launch party and will have our subsequent anniversaries.
Months ago, I saw a ‘BGR’s Free Burger for your Birthday’ sign up, quickly typed in my birthday, and promptly forgot all about it. That is, until the lovely month of June rolled around and I received a coupon for a free meal in the mail.
We decided that, in celebration of 50BurgersOrBust.com’s anniversary and my birthday, we would spend the day finding a new food to try and end the night with a trip for a free burger at BGR.
You might remember, a few months back, Angel spoke of her desire to try new foods and a food questionnaire she found. Of the 100 foods on the eclectic list, she had already tried nearly 80 and has continued to look forward to devouring the rest.
Reviewing the list this time, only one option popped out at me, the durian fruit. It is a notorious, foul smelling fruit that can be found in Southeast Asia. Whenever someone says something is an “acquired taste,” you know it’s going to be interesting.
How bad could it really be? Even the Bizarre food host Andrew Zimmern can’t stomach it. Then, he challenged the field producer of his show, only to watch him squirm under the pressure of this intense flavor.
All over Southeast Asia, you can find signs prohibiting the fruit (much like a no smoking signs). The real question is, if it’s that bad, how could you even ACQUIRE the taste? Maybe I’ll be sold in the first bite…
Luckily, being so close to NYC we knew we could find anything. I’ve been wanting to spend some time wandering Chinatown and the durian just gave us a goal.
Of course, that was far from the only sight or odd food enjoyed. As soon as we parked the car and began our excursion, a fruit vendor caught Angel’s attention and a bag of lychee fruit was purchased as our walking snack, or rather, as Angel’s snack as I found the small spiked fruit being a bit too flowery or perfume tasting.
Continuing our meandering walk up and down the streets, we entered my favorite Chinese bakery where I was hoping to enjoy some custard or pork buns, but, since they were sold out, I settled for an almond roll while Angel purchased a bubble tea. From there, it was a mixture of window shopping until we found what we were looking for, a produce vendor selling durian.
Then there it was. The Durian. I picked a “small” 6 lb. one and hoped for the the best. How do you know if the big round sharp spiky thing is ripe? You got me…
Confused as I stared at what looked like a (much) larger version of the already purchased lychee, I stood back and let Angel do her thing. When she was done picking out what she thought was the perfect one, I pointed her to the bright pink colored dragon fruit, a fruit I knew we both enjoyed.
We attempted to pay on the street, but the staff told us that we’d have to go into the mini-mart/ seafood store to finalize the sale. Inside, amongst the fish, the turtle feet once again reminded us that we weren’t at home.
Goals satisfied, and now carrying over 10 lbs of fruit, we hastily returned to the car and the journey home.
On the way home, we dove into the juicy and delicious dragon fruit and read up on how to eat the durian.
Step one: find the stem
Step two: stab the stem
Step three: slice the opening bigger
Step four: pull side apart
Step five: eat but avoid the pits/seed called stones.
Step six: once it is broken apart, there are segments similar to an orange. If you can stomach it, dive in for more.
Heeding the smell warnings and knowing the ‘Warranty ribbon’ was a lie, I wisely stood back and watched as Angel attempted to hold and carve into what looked like a medieval weapon. What followed, I was not prepared for.
The directions for consumption spoke of segments, so I was expecting to find something similar to a citrus fruit or, if teetering on the unorthodox, perhaps a slight resemblance to the insides of a pomegranate. No. This wasn’t even close. This was an ‘Alien Autopsy’ and they were organs.
Straight out of a bad horror movie, I was fully expecting one to begin pulsating… but the smell told me it had been dead for a long time.
The pungent odor emanating off the untampered with fruit wasn’t too bad, just enough to give a hint (warning) of the horrors within…. until you put your nose close. Straight out of the cartoons, I could have sworn I saw a green puff of smoke with a skull and cross bones arise and dissipate as I pulled the durian apart. The smell wasn’t unlike sweet caramelized onions. Ones that had been left somewhere hot for way to long and gone rancid. Ignoring the putrid odor, I dove in. The texture, reminiscent of a pudding, had the produce oozing between my fingers. With two fingers, I shoveled some into my mouth.
Bite one: Sweet… I see why some like it.
Bite two: Onions… I see why some don’t.
Bite three: Rancid… I’m still unsure.
Bite four: I’m DONE!!
It pains me to say it, but, when it comes to food, Angel is far braver than I (with one exception… what exception???). That said, I don’t go down without a fight… even if end up holding and staring at the food for far longer than necessary to build courage.
Hearing her wavering thoughts on the fruit, I decided I had to give it a go myself and she eagerly handed over a chunk of it’s anatomy and gleefully awaited my reaction.
Bite one: Curdled onion custard… I see why this is banned in some places.
Bite two: This… this should be banned EVERYWHERE! I’m done!
That was it. The towel was thrown, I was out for the count and quickly running to the nearest sink to wash any remnants. To my dismay, it was already too late and the smell had seeped in. For a few days, the hand that held the fruit was tainted and suffered a lingering stench.
Not wanting the leftover durian to go to waste, I watched in horror as Angel carefully opened and saved any remaining fruit. She wanted to share it’s ‘unique’ taste with her family and anyone willing and wouldn’t listen to my attempts to dissuade her.
Over the years, Angel has certainly broadened my food experiences. Some have been good (I thoroughly enjoyed the calf brain paste), but most have been bad. I honestly never thought anything would be worse than the bull penis, but the durian surprised me. And, it was that surprise that, for me, made it the worst ‘food’ I’ve ever eaten. As bad as the bull penis was, I knew what I was getting into. I knew it would be horrible long before it was presented in an aluminum serving tray before me. With the durian, I had only heard trivial bits of information about and had no clue what was in store and simply couldn’t imagine any fruit being that vulgar.
We decided there is nothing better to wash out the flavor of durain than burgers so, with my birthday free meal coupon in hand, we headed to BGR in Mount kisco, NY.
I stood in front of the menu board dumb-struck for a second time. That’s when Sean jumped in and pointed out the burger of the month. My eyes quickly darted to the printout taped to the bottom that read “$9.99- Guaca-Mojo burger- Crushed tortilla chips, lime juice, guacamole, BGR’s mojo sauce, and banana peppers.”
With my love of guacamole, I’m always eager to try a new burger, but so far none have hit the spot… until this one!! I think it was because they didn’t just smear it on and make it fend for itself. The was an inspired creation that had crunch and salt form the tortilla chips, the acid and brightness with the lime, the fresh hit of the banana pepper and the Mojo pulled it all together. This was a dish,not just a burger.
I had no problems inhaling it, but it was hard for me to have any shake left for the husband waiting for it at home.
The last time we visited, price was a hindrance, but with the birthday coupon I was able to order my burger, plus a blueberry ‘shake of the month,’ a veggie burger, and one order of fries and spent under $10 bucks. Without the coupon it would have been just about $30, which I think is still pricy for just two burgers, fries, and a shake at a burger joint.
We also hit it BRG at the height of dinner last time… loud and cramped was all we were left with. This time, we snuck in just under the wire. The burger came along with the sound of the lock on the door. Even with the late hour the severs were still up-beat, friendly and informative. All in all it was a much better then the experience we had the first time. It’s unfortunate that I feel like the first time was more typical and not just a bump in the road.
There are some flavors we don’t need to acquire the taste for, but at least we can enjoy the experience.