Monday, June 8, 2009

A Question of Firsts: Durian

We're all bound to ponder the questions which yield no answer, such as "if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around does it still make a noise?" or "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" And though in theory these questions do have answers from a logical stand point, they continue to create moments of zen as one wrestles with them, never truly finding an answer.

I too contemplate these questions, but my questions are questions of "firsts." For example, who was the first person to think a Durian would be a good thing to eat. If the weapon like exterior didn't look inviting enough the putrid smell should have detoured any further advances. If I was the first man to discover a durian I would have thought that they would have made wonderful weapons. With their naturally spiky exoskeleton. I would have launched them with some sort of catapult or trebuchet, or just waited in the trees for my enemies to walk past and dropped it upon their heads. Perhaps the first encounter with a durian was a near death or possibly fatal incident. Walking mindlessly through the forest, a spiny, dense, head sized object falls from the trees (nearly) smashing an unsuspecting passer by in the head. At what point during the pain and bloodshed, and not to mention pungent smell did one think, "Wow that really hurt and it smells gross, but MAYBE it taste delicious."

Perhaps the first encounter with said fruit was not as destructive and violent. It could, and probably was, a chance encounter while wandering through the forest and finding these objects on the floor. However I would have thought the smell would stop any normal person from deeper inspection. The wise comedian Demitri Martin once stated that "whenever we investigate smells it's always something nasty, it's never,'What's that smell? OH! Cookies!'" Resonating with that idea, why would you, upon discovering the smell was not in fact cookies continue to the point of thinking of "even though this smells gross I wonder what it taste like?" A normal reaction to strong and offensive smells is not to try and see if it taste good but to throw it out, which in the case of durian may have resulted in yet another head injury.

I like to think that durian and it's acceptance as a edible treat is proof that though alcohol did not exist in early human history, since the beginning of time "Truth or Dare" and like games have played a major role in culture as well as the idea that our ancestors must have been as dumb or dumber than we are to have tried things which defy logic. Here's to you, durian and the bravely stupid person who first tried to eat you.


Thedude said...

Or it could have been a guy who was just really really hungry and realized after stomaching it down the first time it wasn't so bad once you cut it open

smboi69 said...

as an anthropologist, ive studied many of mankind's idiotic ventures. although not my specialty, evolutionary anthropology has given clues as to why people look and act the way they do.

while delving into the intricacies of the human tooth, there was a question as to how early man knew what to eat. example: potato. disgusting, tumor-like thing excavated from ground=food/future french fries (freedom fries for conservatives)? not my first thought.

intelligent looking professor replies simply w/ a chuckle: "they watched what animals ate". apparently, pigs like to dig things up, so probably while hunting wild boars, potatoes were discovered and hey, why not try them? probably the same with the durian. the odor can be sensed by animals up to half a mile away!

if you look at it all from an evolutionary standpoint, it kind of makes sense. awful (or attractive depending on your taste) smell that is really strong = distinctive/effective way to lure animals to spread your seeds = human mimicry = 99 ranch market sales of "king of fruits".

either thats the explanation or animals failed to make maces out of them due to a lack of opposable thumbs and upon giving up thought "fuck it. maybe i can eat it?".