Field of Science

Durian - Love it or leave it

Unless you have traveled and delved into the culture of SE Asia, you probably don't know a thing about durian. Durian is often called the stinkiest fruit in the world and my Thai friends tell me durian "tastes like heaven, but smells like hell".  Here's what TPP knows based on his experiences with durian. It is true the fruit has an odor that can best be described as similar to the smells wafting out of a sewer, a not uncommon smell in SE Asia. The fruit is a big spiny capsule about the size and shape of a smallish rugby ball, and this isn't the part you eat. The largish seeds are surrounded by a thick, creamy yellow-colored fleshy aril, the reward for seed dispersers, presumably primates and other arboreal mammals. Not sure who among our family tree finds the odor attractive? Apart from the fruit, the fleshy aril is not all that unpleasant to eat; it has a firm custardy texture with a sort of mild cheesy flavor, but rather insipid. It is not as horrible or as disgusting tasting as many people have made it out to be, but it is not on TPP's list of preferred tropical fruits either. TPP has seen durian for sale just once in the great Midwest, frozen (and no idea how it holds up to that) at the famous Jungle Jim's grocery north of Cincinnati. So TPP thinks that durian isn't as divisive as people make it out to be, although my Thai friends truly relish it and were happy to eat my share.   
 Image courtesy of Yun Huang Yong, Wikimedia Creative Commons. 

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