Durian

Note the spikes

Durian certainly deserves an entry of its own. If you havent been to asia before you may well have never met the fruit. However for most people who visited Southeast Asia it is quite unforgettable. So let us review the facts:

Fact 1 Durian grows on giant tropical rainforest trees, most are at least 20 metres tall and VERY difficult to climb.

Fact 2Falling Durians may not kill people very often but there are regular reports of broken shoulder bones and clavicles as the big heavy and hard fruit fall on people.

Fact 3 Durian is covered with a thick, spiky and very hard shell. The spikes make it hard to pick it up and the fruit is almost impossible to open with bare hands (Ie without a parang/machete).

Fact 4 Even before you open the Fruit you can smell it many meters away, however once you open it you can smell it half a kilometre away (and I am NOT exadurating)!

Fact 5 The smell is foul. People have long argued about an accurate description to some it smells like dirty socks while others suggest stale sweat in large concentration. Pretty much everyone who smells it comes up with their own description, however what is common to all descriptions is that they mention things which are in no way associated with food.

Fact 6 Dogs will not eat Durian flavoured cookies. Ok, this is a bit random but I tried it when I accidentally bought a pack and not even the half starved neighborhood strays were able to finish the pack of 20 or so cookies.

Fact 7 It tastes foul. Many people will tell you you have to get over the smell and try it because you will love the taste. NOT true, durian tastes as it smells, if you dont like the smell do not try it, it can and will make you physically ill. I have tried this out, and regretted it for the rest of the night.

Fact 8 Durian causes high blood pressure.

Fact 9 This one would actually be an advantage in the good old days but these days many people would disagree. I think this last fact is the key in figuring out why people ever actually bothered to eat the thing despite the many obvious hints that they should not. Ok here it is: Durian is fattening. It has around 1400 calories per kilogram, by comparison cooked white rice has about 950 calories for the same weight, and it is often blamed for the epidemic of obesity in counties like Singapore and Malaysia.

Ok, so as you may gather from the above list, I am not a friend of the durians. But the facts are still facts. There is only a small disclaimer I would like to include. For some bizarre reason a small percentage of westerners and a much larger percentage of locals like the durian smell and taste. I can not explain it. Someone once tried to explain to me that it is like blue cheese for Europeans, it smells but they love it anyway. I find two problems with this explanation, for one thing no one tries to tell you blue cheese doesnt smell, not even the people who do like it. Second problem is that I dont like blue cheese…

However, not to be all negative. IF you are in the vicinity of Durian and you find that you actually like the smell of the thing, than by all means do try it because you are probably one of those 10% of people who like it and get addicted to it.

Segments of the eadible part of a ripe durian. Did I mention the texture is mushy and guey?

Ps: Local people say you can not mix Durian with Alcohol or you will die. This is a myth. I have tried and didnt die. However the durian alone was able to get my stomach to feel like I had food poisoning this occurred within seconds of eating it and persisted for hours. A friend who tried it at the same time experienced the same effects.

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3 Responses

  1. Or your stomach was feeling heavenly:

    “An apparent provision of nature, however, much assists the inhabitants, as the causes which produce bad crops of padi seem to favour the various fruits of the country, and thus are the people afforded means of living. Then, the luscious durean, with its odoriferous perfume, is a great benefit, although its heating propensity causes light fevers to be prevalent. These ignorant people of course look upon the incident as a special intervention and compensation of their God.”
    – Charles Brooke, Ten Years in Sarawak, vol. 1

    • Charles Brooke is the second Rajah, he lived in a Longhouse a bit too long 😉

  2. Actually, it smells very different than it tastes to me. The smell is strong and pungent but not foul or unpleasant. Tastes mainly sweet and vanilla-custard-ey but that greatly simplifies it. Actually smells good now that I associate that smell with something positive. But, yes, I’m one of those Westerners who like it.

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