~Shudder~. David Leo Veksler/CC BY 2.0

Exploration isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes, in order to experience new things, you have to face down some long-held fears. For a lot of people, this is especially true when it comes to food.

I’m a fairly adventurous eater, but my greatest food fear has long been durian. All of my near-miss experiences with the notorious fruit (passing it in a market, watching braver gourmands than I partake) had sent me running. I know that durian is eaten all over the world, and is especially popular in many Asian countries. From Singapore to Hong Kong to Thailand, durian is simply not that remarkable. But that pungent smell and dramatic reputation really had me convinced that it was horrid. To me, it smells like a rotting corpse, and even when you manage to get past the threatening spiked shell, the edible flesh looks like a bleached human liver. If David Cronenberg invented a fruit, this would be it.

But thanks to some enthusiastic prodding from my coworkers, and in the spirit of Halloween, I finally dealt with my fear head on, and ate some durian.

My first bite didn't go well.
My first bite didn’t go well. Atlas Obscura

After failing to swallow the first bite (the fruit’s much ballyhooed odor more than lives up to the hype), I kept down the second, though just barely. There’s a sweetness to the custardy-flesh, but I found it buried under an unrelenting flavor of trash rotting on a humid summer day.

While durian had me fighting back waves of nausea, a number of my gathered coworkers happily dug in, taking huge bites. More of them than not, even those also trying it for the first time, were really enjoying it. One person said it tasted like “sweet onions,” while another thought it had a texture “somewhere between well-done eggs and custard.” It was fascinating to watch such opposite reactions arise from the exact same experience.

In the end, while I didn’t much enjoy fresh durian, I’m happy to have gotten over my fear of it. I’ve come to a better understanding of a fruit that much of the world enjoys, and opened myself up to the possibility of trying things like durian candy (it’s entirely possible that durian might taste better to me when prepared). It might sound a little cheesy, but it’s always nice to be reminded that trying something new really can expand your world.

That’s my story. Now we want to hear about yours! Fill out the form below to tell us the story of how you overcame your greatest food fear. We’ll share our favorite answers in an upcoming article. ‘Tis the season to celebrate getting over our irrational fears, together.

If you have a food fear of your own to share, head over to our community forums and tell us about it!

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