In the spirit of following our trend of trying new things, Ellie and I set off to the pasar (market) after school to buy a durian. Some of you might have no idea what a durian is. I myself first learned of the durian while playing Super Mario Sunshine once upon a time.
The durian is a curious fruit. Though it's unique appearance and injury-inducing spikes set it apart from the crowd, the durian is instead famous for its insanely pungent odor. Every time I look at it, I can't help but wonder who looked at it and smelled it and thought it must be good to eat?
I truly cannot put into words a just description of the smell that emanates from the durian. The smell of the durian is so foul that you can literally identify it from a mile away. It is forbidden on public transportation. It is banned in hotels across Asia. When I say that it smells bad, you can just imagine the worst thing you have ever had the misfortune of smelling, inside a dirty gym sock, next to a dirty diaper, covered in rotten onions.
This is the woman who sold us the vile-smelling fruit. When you ask a person to describe the flavor of durian, you are likely to get a wholly unique answer. I have heard everything from stinky-sock garlic-flavored yogurt to consistency and flavor of snot, so you can imagine my excitement at trying one of the only foods that the conqueror of all things nasty, Andrew Zimmern, simply could not swallow.
We thought ahead and stopped on the way home to get noodles, to wash away the taste after eating but failed to consider the ramifications of bringing the fruit into and cutting it open inside the house.
I have to admit that the durian was not nearly as heinous as I had anticipated, taste-wise. At least I was able to swallow it. But the smell? It's still lingering today. I accidentally dropped a bit on the table which subsequently soaked into the wood grain and remains as a reminder of the day that we tried durian.
Welcome to the exotic animal market of Central Java. It takes place in a town about 20 minutes outside of Salatiga, every five days. Row upon row of strange and familiar animals abound as far as the eye can see.
This is a luwak (civet/ weasel). The luwak are famous in Indonesia for their poop. Yes, their poop. During harvest season, the luwak are let out of their cages to feast on coffee beans that are collected after being digested. Supposedly, the digestive process enriches the flavor of the beans. The final product is called Kopi Luwak, also known as the most expensive coffee in the world. If you want to know more about the process, you can watch this video.
This guy is a dukun (medicine man/ healer). He was selling various concoctions and herbal remedies meant to fix a variety of ailments. If you look down between his feet, you'll see an object resembling a black cucumber (it is not). During his presentation, this particular bull part was slowly extracted from the bag and explained to fix a certain male problem.
Remember the tokay that we found in our house? This is where you can sell it for a considerable amount of money, to get made into this stew, which will also "fix" a various illnesses.
Cobra blood is also believed to strengthen virility in the male gender. You can buy a shot and watch it drained from the snake, right in front of you.
Before separating for the holidays, the girls and I hired our trusty driver and made our way past Jogja to the coast. On our way, we stopped at the beautiful warung/ overlook.
Clear water, blue skies and cool water made for a perfect day at the beach yesterday. Not only did I manage to get a little bit of a tan in December, but we got to explore the bounty of tidal pools. We saw sea urchins, a variety of crabs and even an octopus!
So my friend Janis, who was my roommate in England last year, is teaching first grade in...Rockwalll (I think). She sent me an email last weekend because her school is doing a unit on Christmas around the world and being that I am literally, around the world, asked my class to help out. I put together this video, although with the internet speed, it might actually be Christmas by the time it gets there!