What is there to say about the incomparable taste of Durian? Known as the King of Fruits, you may be lucky enough to see one in your local Asian food store. If you do, buy it immediately! Yes it will be expensive, yes it will smell awful, but don't pass up a chance to try one of the world's greatest pleasures.
The durian itself consists of a hard spiky shell, that's extremely sharp to the touch, capable of drawing blood. But inside, the fruit is comprised of lobes of soft golden pillows. The fruit has a custard-like texture to it, soft without being juicy. And the taste, well the taste is something unlike anything else on this world.
Renowned naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described it this way:
"The five cells are silky-white within, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. ... as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed."
-On the Bamboo and Durian of Borneo (1856)
The first thing you will notice about the durian, is the strong pungent odor it produces. You never have to go into a market to ask if they have durian, you smell it as soon as you step through the door. The odor has been described charitably as disagreeable, alternatively as "... pig-sh*t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock." and can actually induce nausea and vomiting in some people. In fact carrying durian is often banned in hotels and public transport in Southeast Asia, similar to smoking.
Durian is native to Southeast Asia, and is grown commercially in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. There are several varieties each with different strengths of smell, color and flavor of fruit.
Durian is polarizing. You will either despise it with every fibre in your being, and avoid it at all costs, or love it with a passion, and seek it out at all costs. Either way if you see (or more likely smell) one at your local Asian market, grab it and try it for yourself!
Fun Fact: Durian is the only fruit that tigers will eat.
Below Aunchalee shows you how to select a good durian and how to prepare it.