Most of you out there probably weren’t aware that during the summer we were in the midst of a durian drought. Not to worry, the drought is over. For those of you who haven’t been formally introduced to durian or had an official durian experience… allow me to make the introduction:
Durian, commonly referred to as the “King of Fruits” is a tropical fruit that grows on some the oldest living and tallest fruit trees in nature. Durian has 3 properties that make it the King and make it unique: smell, texture and taste.
First off durian has a high sulfur content, which is the chemical that gives garlic, onions and eggs their distinct odor. The potent odor given off by a durian has gotten it banned from public transportation and places like theaters and hotels in Southeast Asia. Don’t be surprised if you hear comments from unschooled observers first encountering durian like, “is there a gas leak?” or “did the cat pee in the corner?” No two durians smell the same and the smell evolves as the fruit ripens as well. It’s this smell that attracts tropical wild life like tigers, orangutan and elephants who are known to savor a good durian.
So if you’ve made it past the smell, now comes the texture. Durian is one of the few fruits having a high fat content like avocado and olives. Durian also has the highest protein content of any fruit. Durian is the total package: fat, protein and sweetness (carbs). No wonder they call it the King. This combination of fat, protein and sweetness give durian the texture of custard when fresh and ice cream when frozen.
It all comes down to flavor and durian is not lacking in that department. In truth, the taste defies all description and any attempt to describe the taste is an injustice that has the potential to deter an individual from having their own durian experience. I’m not going to lie to you, many of the descriptions you will come across regarding the taste of durian is unflattering at the least extreme and hostile at the greatest extreme.
One critic compares Durian to “crème cheese onion sauce and sherry wine” another “its taste can only be described as indescribable, something you’ll either love or despise… Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” I know what you’re thinking, “why the hell would I want to eat that?” I’m not sure I can persuade you with words. Let me just say I equate eating durian with a religious or shamanic experience. The durian fruit is considered a warming food, stimulant and aphrodisiac. It’s funny that the foods that compliment durian are aphrodisiacs as well like nutmeg, vanilla and cacao. When consuming durian, especially for the first time, preparing yourself and the dining environment is a must. Durian can’t be consumed casually like picking up a slushy at the Quickie Mart. A certain amount of reverence has to be shown to a fruit that weighs in at around 8 pounds and is protected by a hard spiked shell. Light some candles, turn down the lights, put on some tribal rythymns and open your heart and mind. Enjoy this brief video introduction to Durian, the King of Fruits: