“Smells like hell but tastes like heaven” and the popular notion that it is an aphrodisiac, the King of fruits in the Asian region that earned fame is known as Durian. Bountiful in the Southeastern part of Asia, Durian is being described as a deadly fruit with its big thorny appearance and very unique scent, that even the mere thought of it causes a mixed reaction.
Despite its unlikely characteristics, this fruit is very well loved by many, especially the people of Southeast Asia. Durian, distinctively grows on countries with a tropical climate, with 9 of 30 species grown to be consumed. It is endemic to countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, but are also widely found in countries like Thailand and Philippines.
Thailand is one of the major exporters of this fruit. Predominantly, the region of Chantaburi is one of the major producers of Durian, producing half of the total Durian output of Thailand. This region also celebrates a yearly event, recognizing the King of Fruits. The World Durian Festival is held every May. In the Philippines, when you say Durian, people will automatically associate it with Davao City. This City in the southern part of the Philippines (Mindanao) is the center for Durian production in the country. It also holds an annual event called, Kadayawan Festival in the month of August, which celebrates a bountiful harvest of fruits and flowers, featuring of course, the famous Durian.
Durian is a seasonal fruit. There are no specific words or terms to describe how this fruit tastes, or even its smell. The fruit is often judged by its strong aroma that oozes and peeks through your nose even if the husk is intact. Some are attracted to its smell, especially those who are addicted to eating Durian, while most people freak out. There’s a hint of bitterness with sweetness, creamy and milky at the same time and an indescribable savory flavor with each bite of the pulp. Those who haven’t tried eating Durian may react negatively upon the mere scent of it, but once you have tried eating a single pulp, you’d want to have another, and another, and another one again.
There are many Durian products that are often sold to tourists, like Durian candies, Durian iced candy, Durian pie, Durian ice cream, etc. But none of these are flavorful enough to compete with the real thing. There’s no other way to taste authentic Durian flavors than to have a bite of the fruit itself. A durian is said to be ripe when the husk cracks open, while others can tell by its smell. The stronger the aroma is, the riper the fruit is. The flavors of this fruit vary from specie to specie. Some could be very bitter with a very small pulp while others have a creamier texture with a hint of sweetness.
It can be very tricky when eating durian. Tricky as how to crack open the fruit and dig your hands between the thorny husk where several compartments with neatly arranged pulps are embedded. If you’re lucky enough to have them opened by a durian vendor, that would be good. If not, you might want to grab a thick pot holder or two to hold up the fruit in a flat cutting surface, then use a big and sharp knife to slice your way through. Most durians have very light lines that could help you find the right spots to slice it open. As you cut through all the lines, open the fruit by pulling the husk apart with the help of the other hand. If not, then cut through again and separate the husk. Be careful when your handling durian. You can open all sides then spoon over the pulped durian seeds in a container, but if you can’t wait for a minute, dig your hands into the durian flesh and have a cream-filled fun while eating.
And yes, the durian scent will stick to your skin for a very long time if not properly washed. For a quick handwashing technique, grab a pulpless durian seed and scrub it on your hands while washing, under running water. This is the antidote to to remove the odor from your hands. By the way, down durian with lots of water because it’s gonna make you feel uncomfortably hot.
Folks, durian is not really deadly. If you’re curious about this fruit, grab a piece of its pulpy seed, rather than just reading or listening to the gruesome and horror stories that are only for the faint hearted.