Sep 27

Durian, The Smelly Delicious King Of Fruits

If you have to think about, you don’t know the answer. The answer is durian, and although I have not spent much time in its indigenous Southeast Asia, where it is relished or reviled, I could write a novelette of anecdotes of this strangest of fruits; so strange in fact that durian deserves a classification of it’s very own. I first encountered this space alien oddity twenty years ago as a young man roaming the streets of Bangkok. As if I had not already had enough in the way of strange and foreign sights, sounds, and yes, smells, I noticed a faint whiff of something I had never encountered before. The further I walked, the stronger the odor became, and I could only think that raw sewage was leaking from a pipe somewhere. I turned a corner however and got a frontal assault of both the smell and its source: durian! Dozens of durian split open in half, their pale yellow bulbs of flesh resting in their spiky and dangerous husks (it is possible to bleed to death from wounds inflicted by a durian falling on your head). Alarmed and bewildered, as I had not been since I was a child, I walked on in 40C heat, perplexed and uncertain as to what else I might encounter.

Durian is strongest flavored of all fruits and its aroma is extremely potent. Its taste is rich, powerful, and explodes on the palate, going right into the sinus cavities. It probably tastes better than it smells though, something between very ripe banana, fresh onion, avocado (whose texture it resembles), and well, durian. It is as sweet as pudding and very hard to swallow except in small pieces.
Durian is a fruit that some claim comes not from this world but from heaven (some undoubtedly claim the other place). It is glorious, intoxicating, sublime, and one can spend an hour or even two nibbling on it in contented leisure. One thing is for sure: durian may be many things to many people, but forgettable is not one of them. To those forced to eat durian or who dare to do so despite their revulsion, durian can be unforgiving and the imbiber may regret his decision for hours or even days later. In fact, once one encounters durian it is unlikely that at least some impression of this oddest of fruits will not last a lifetime.


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