Funky, thorny and dangerous. That big green weird looking fruit – Durian. Pungent for those who hate it and aromatic for those who love it. As Anthony Bourdain, chef and TV host, once said that this fruit is indescribable other than “…Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”
Durian is the only fruit banned from flights and hotels.
So, why do we Asians love it so much even when Anthony Bourdain has such an “indescribable” explanation for it? Here are some reasons for you to debate on:
Durian smells like hell but, taste like heaven.
Have you ever tried blue cheese or Chinese stinky tofu? Blue cheese is probably the nearest food product that I can use to assimilate the smell and taste of durian too. (On a side note, I do not consider blue cheese half as delicious as durian). If you have tried neither blue cheese nor stinky tofu, I am sorry but there are no other edible items that I can compare durian to in this world.
As you split it open, you will uncover the most majestic fruit. It’s smooth, creamy and imperialistic colour embodies the unique capabilities of bringing you to both ends on your taste bud. As you slide it onto your tongue, you will experience an unexplainable explosion of taste. Is it an ice cream? No… Is it garlic bread? No… It’s sweet and savoury; both at the same time. How wonderful it is to have the best of both worlds in one fruit, Durian.
Yes, you read it right. I said durian is economical but I don’t mean that durian is a cheap fruit to consume. It is definitely not cheap in terms of pricing. In Japan, a kilogram of durian can easily cost about 30USD. Even producing countries like Malaysia and Thailand have increased Durian prices due to the high demand to approximately 15USD a kilogram for a good variable of the fruit when it used to be at 5 USD a kilo.
Durian is economical in the sense that you don’t have to consume a large amount of it to be content. It may smell like a sewage dam for the haters but for most Asians like me, durian is outstandingly aromatic. It is a smell and taste that lingers in my mind even after days of eating it. And, that means I’ll only crave to eat it once in a blue moon, unlike apples or bananas. Thus, I will be spending once a year to get the best durian despite the many affordable durian buffets that can be found in Klang Valley, some parts of Johor Bharu areas in Malaysia and Thailand.
It is THE KING
If you ever wondered why would this pungent ugly looking fruit be the King of the jungle, you have reached the part that I’ll provide you with an answer. The large size, distinct dragon breath odour and mighty thorn-covered husk make it the King of the jungle. The high price for this fruit could also be one of the reasons for its royal status. Durian’s unique appearance intrigues us further psychologically.
Different ways of eating it
There are multiple types of durians. In fact, there are at least 30 types of durians. Having to say that, there are only about 12 types of durians that we commonly consume. Some of the famous local Malaysian variables would be Musang King, D24, XO and Red Prawn.
Durians are also integrated into our local cuisines such as the ever so famous durian cendol, durian ais kacang, durian ice cream, durian dodol and tempoyak (made from fermented durian). Durian is also a folk medicine. Durian pulp increases body heat to cause excessive sweating while drinking the water poured into the empty shell helps to decrease heat. While in our neighbouring country, the Javanese believes that durians have aphrodisiac qualities too.
Did my explanation make sense to you? Maybe not if you are just not born with this taste for the fruit. Durian is a unique taste to acquire. It is not meant for everyone to consume the King of Fruits and it is totally understandable.
What is your take on durians? Do you hate it or love it?