From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

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Disappointed over Durian

This year’s Philippine vacation, the first thing that my husband looked for was durian. He had never tried the fruit and he was very curious about it.  Durian is notorious for its abominable odor that Richard Sterling, travel and food writer, describes as “pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”. In fact, the fruit’s smell is so bad that it is forbidden in some hotels and public transportations in Southeast Asia. Despite its preposterously pungent odor, they say that durian has a mild, sweet flavor that is unique and pleasant to the palate. Well, my husband and I tried it for the first time and we think that much of what is said about durian is just exaggeration.

Durian is not that cheap in the Philippines. Prices range from 300 to 600 Php (8,000 to 16, 000 KRW) (7 to 14 USD), depending on the size of the fruit and where you buy it. (Durian is more expensive in grocery stores.) We wanted to buy the best durian, so the price didn’t matter to us, but Mom told us that the best place to buy fruit (any fruit) is the market. Hubby and I went to Talipapa, near Nepo Mart, and found just the right size of durian we wanted. We paid barely 300 for the fruit; delighted that we were given a discount. The vendor asked us if we wanted to have the durian cut open, because if we cut it ourselves, we might cut the seeds by accident. That will make the durian taste bitter. Hubby was afraid that the durian would start to smell once it’s cut open, and we could be kicked out of the jeepney, so he asked the vendor to teach us how to cut the fruit instead. The vendor drew a line around the spiky skin of the durian and told us to cut through the fruit along that line. The knife should not penetrate the durian by more than 2 inches.

My husband was very excited to finally smell and taste durian. To his disappointment, when the fruit was cut open, the smell wasn’t THAT absurd. Hongo sashimi (홍어회) smells ten times worse, I’m telling you. Neither is it as delicious as they say it is. The fruit is very soft and tastes rather strange. I have to agree with Chef Andrew Zimmern. The taste compares to “completely rotten, mushy onions”. After trying some, no one in the family wanted to have a second round. It was kept in the fridge for days and every time we opened the refrigerator, the smell of sweaty armpit permeated the kitchen. I think the stink of the fruit doesn’t come out the moment you open it, or maybe we bought a not-so-smelly durian… but wait for a few days, and the smell of your durian will most probably make you want to throw it away. I guess that’s what Mom did when hubby and the rest of the family refused to eat the whole thing. Poor forlorn durian… ^^

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Things He Never Taught Me

He never taught me how to ride a bicycle, maybe because he was afraid that I would fall and scrape my knee when he lets go of the handle. He knew I was a fraidy cat. He would not teach me how to ride a bike until he was sure that I was ready and he could let go of me.

He never taught me how to play chess, although he was very good at it, perhaps because he wanted me to learn more important things in life.

He never taught me how to draw, though he was a gifted artist. I used to ask why I couldn’t draw like him. He said I was good at singing, and that is one talent I should develop.

He never taught me to hold my tears like a big girl. He let me cry when I was hurt, sat me on his lap, listened to what I had to say, and let me cry some more… and when it seemed that I felt better, he’d smile and say things that would make me giggle.

He never taught me how a young lady should act, or reprimanded me for wearing lipstick or a mini-skirt. He accepted me the way I am. He was proud of me and what I turned out to be.

He never taught me pride. Instead, he taught me humility. While most parents want their children to be like them, he told me not to be like him and make the same mistakes that he did. He was my hero as a child, but he made me realize that not all heroes are perfect, but all of them “protect”, especially the ones they love.

There are some things my Dad never had the chance to teach me, or maybe he did not teach them on purpose, but I’m grateful that he did not teach me everything I could have learned easily… or I would have forgotten them so swiftly.

You see, Daddies don’t teach you everything. You read between the lines. You learn some things on your own. You learn as you grow older. You learn when they’re gone and then you remember… Oh, that’s what he was trying to instill in me all along.