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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Love Affair With Durian

Durian, durian we love you. The Durian is native to Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Durian is a malay word meaning lots of thorns. We call it the King of Fruits. They say 'its either you love the durian or you hate it', but for me, I do eat it but I can also live without it.

The most notable characteristic about the durian is its pungent smell and distinctive taste. Some of my foreign friends say it smells and tastes like cat vomit. That's revolting, isn't it? They get a slimy feeling with goose pimples and rapid heart beat when holding the flesh. Some feel instant disgust and cannot stand the smell. Durians are banned from hotels and resorts. I guess the smell can create havoc once it gets into the air-conditioning system. The smell is a nice aroma to us and we regard the taste as heavenly. It is creamy, tastes like sweet butter scotch with almonds and better still should be a little bit bitter, like wine. It is 'finger-licking' good!

Everywhere I go, I see durians, durians and more durians! This stall in Petaling Jaya is having a durian promotion. The banner says "Eat Until You Get Full" at RM 9.00 for lower grade and RM 15.00 onwards for premium grade durians. The varieties available are Kampong Durian (Village Durian), D24, Tacka, Juiji, D96, Raja Kunyit (Tumeric King), Udang Merah (Red Shrimp) and XO.

In this stall under the shady trees, there are comfortable tables and chairs to sit on and helpers to select and open the durians for the diners. We took only durians for lunch. The owner even provided salt water for detox. If we don't want the salt water, we can order coconut water. Other fruits like rambutans and mangosteens are also sold here. Some people believe that eating durians is very 'heaty' to our body, therefore it is good to eat mangosteens or drink coconut water to 'cool' it down. These stalls enjoy very good business because many Malaysians love durians.
When I was little, eating durian was a family affair. You need some skills to choose good quality durians. When selecting durians, for example, you need to pick up the durian, observe closely, smell it, shake it and listen carefully. Strength is needed to open the fruit and you need some cloth to protect your hands from the sharp thorns. Usually, the head of the family or the guys will prised open the durian using a parang knife or chopper. But then, some mothers can do that easily too! After the durian is succesfully opened, everybody would have fun eating and sharing the durian.
1. Do not overeat. It is a very uncomfortable feeling.
2. Do not drink alcohol immediately after eating durian. Your body may not be able to take it.
3. Not recommended for people suffering from diabetes or high cholesterol levels.

Other ways of eating durian
1. Durian ice-cream
2. Durian confectionery like cakes, dodol, biscuits, candy
3. Fermented durian called 'tempoyak' is eaten uncooked, cooked or used to make curry
4. McDonald's came up with 'durian shake' some time ago but it has been discontinued now.
5. Some people eat durian flesh with rice for lunch/dinner
6. Chilled durian is very tasty but there will be a lingering odor in the fridge
7. Durian seeds can be boiled and eaten

Something to ponder
If a durian fell from the tree onto your head, there will be serious head injuries caused by the spikes. However, we also have a malay saying, "durian runtuh" which means that getting a fallen durian brings forth unexpected fortune.


  1. I enjoyed this post. I've never heard of durian. It's hard to tell if I would like it or not. My husband doesn't like the smell of cantaloup before it's cut open.

    I had to laugh about McDonalds trying durian shakes. I have a friend who lives in South Korea, and she says the Pizza Hut pizzas are not like the ones in the U.S. They use ingredients found and liked by people there.

  2. I like the taste of durian but the smell is something you definitely need to overcome (which some people can't). This is one tree that is not recommended for the home orchard. Imagine getting hit by a durian as you putter about in your garden. LOL.

  3. Very interesting, I'd never heard of them. I'm a curious as to how someone would actually know what cat vomit tastes like, however :)

  4. I can even smell it from the first photo!!! ha ha... I love durian especially those bitter sweet ones :-) But everytime after taking them I drink lots of water to avoid sore throat and 'heaty' body. Taking mangosteen helps too.

  5. Sue,I don't know why McDonald's discontinued the durian shake because many of us love it. Can it be the difficulty in getting a good durian vendor or the cost involved? I don't know. For beginners who wish to try durian, I recommend the Thak Durian because the flesh is sweet and tasty. It is also less smelly.

    Spotofgardening, you are right! Actually, some people pinch their nose tightly shut during the first attempt at eating durians. About the fruit falling, actually we have an old wife's tale that the riped durians will usually fall during night time when there is less chance of anyone walking around in the orchard, therefore they are 'considerate' enough not to hurt us. How true? Well, I'm not sure. LOL.

    Dirtdigger, you have a point here about the cat vomit. Frequently, this has been the actual expression and words of exclamation from a beginner who hates the smell when attempting to taste the durian. I guess, the smell itself is enough to lead a person to imagine that the taste will be just as bad.

    Stephanie, you are right. I guess durian lovers like the bitter sweet ones.

  6. Sue, actually I mean Thai Durian, not Thak. Sorry for the typo error.

  7. The more unusual it is, the more some people want to eat it. I like learning of exotic (to me anyway) foods.

  8. Autumn Belle, I've never heard of durian. It's very interesting.

  9. Donna, Kaija. Do try it. If you worry about the smell, eat it outside you home, e.g. at the stall selling it.

  10. I wonder how many people can eat as much as you can ! It really takes a lover of durian to have that feast!!

  11. Yes, I agree with you when you mentioned that its a love or hate situation. I love durians but had stopped eating them for years as they are so heaty and cause sleeplessness in the night.

    Don't know whether you know this, Durians are pollinated by bats. When they don't - the flower falls to the ground and it's one durian less.

  12. Sunshine Girl and James, Thank you very much for the comments and interesting information.

  13. Belle.., Life is not complete without durians.. haha. Two bakuls already this season. Every time I see notice at hotel lift "no durians please" .. I feel like opening bakul after bakul of durians right at hotel lobby!!...
    Enjoy Durian Fiesta!

  14. Bangchik, Yes! I do agree with you.

  15. I love durian, Autumn Belle. Crave for them. Learn that the season is nearing the end. However the current heat is too strong and I am afraid of falling ill with sore throat. That always hit me after a feast of durian. In fact, after taking rambutans from the Putrajaya Floria Fest, I can feel that my throat is uncomfortable. But it's really tempting when looking at the photo you posted. Yum, Yum!!

  16. Sukhipanna, the funny thing is that durian season usually coincide with the hot season! Sore throat is a very common 'after effect' after a good durian feast. I will drink coconut water or a cooling chinese herbal drink. However, for the love of the durian, the pain is worth it, I guess.

  17. I too, enjoy the taste, but the smell is something else. And like you, I can take it or leave it. My grandmother though, who is from Russia and has never heard of, or eaten durian before moving to Canada at the age of 80, loves it.

  18. Hi, Tatianak. That's an interesting story. Regarding the smell, I'd like to add that we use a squeeze of calamansi juice on tea to wash our hands so as to remove the smell. It tends to stick on our hands and breath too!

  19. Oh my god. I am Chinese and my stomach is churning just thinking about it! BLECH!!! Definitely an acquired taste. My Caucasian husband, who loves to eat anything, could not even handle it. My mom loves durian and when we were little, we would make her eat it in the garage. I can still see her in the dark garage by herself, sitting on a footstool, wearing a heavy coat, and savoring her durian. funny stuff!!!

  20. Wendy, thank you for telling me about your family's experience. This is very interesting. I guess if your mom is in Malaysia now, she will definitely love it because durians are in season now and people are eating durians everywhere, e.g. under the tree, at home, near open air eateries. We even have durian eating marathons, promotions and contests at car parks!


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