Durian – The polarizing fruit
The Durian is one of the most polarizing and controversial fruit. Take the name of ‘durian’ and you can divide your audience into two instantly. Those who swear their love for it and those who will vanish at the mention of it.
Anthony Bourdain calls it “indescribable, something you will either love or despise…Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”
Food writer Richard Sterling has written “its odor is best described as…turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.”
In Malaysia, durian farmers wear helmets to protect them from a potential spike-bomb. Malaysians also believe that durian is an aphrodisiac. When the durians fall, the sarongs go up, goes a Malaysian saying.
The fruit’s flesh is sometimes eaten raw, or is cooked and used to flavor a number of traditional Southeast Asian dishes and candies. It’s also used in traditional Asian medicine, as both an anti-fever treatment and a aphrodisiac.
The durian – shaped like a rugby ball is so spiky that it can prick your hands if you are not careful. It is banned from flights, hotels and trains in most South east asian countries. Carrying a durian into closed or confined spaces can get you lot of attention and scowls or eviction.
There are durian lovers in Singapore who can have a meal of only durian. They will travel far and wide, to get the top grade durians on offer and savour the custardy durians.
A durian lover knows it all – how to identify the best durian from the colour of the exoskeletion, the angles of the spikes, the texture of the flesh etc. They will swear that it has the wonderful flavor of sweet, savory and cream all at once and it is not so disgusting after all.
And those on the other side of the fence will spit, scowl, squirm and make their aversion evident to the point of puking.