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All about traveling & living in Indonesia.

A fruit from southeast Asia distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk.

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Durian: It's not *that* stinky.

  • Aug 12, 2009
  • by
I'm not gonna lie, I use to HATE durian with a passion when I was a little kid.  Maybe it was the way it smelled to me then (some say that it's comparable to sweaty gym socks, but I've grown so accustomed to it that it's actually kind of fragrant to me now), or the way it looked (the shell looks like Spinies from Super Mario, and the innards look like brains with a giant avocado seed), or its texture (it's like biting into a cream puff... only without the puff part), or its unusual taste (sweet, plus a taste that can only be described as durian-y as there's nothing else like it). 

Though my family loves durian, I tried it once when I was like, 5, didn't like it, then went through most of my life without consuming it again.  This was probably mostly because durian gets such a bad rap and is so stigmatized around here (yes, I used the word stigmatized to describe a fruit).  Durian is just about as stigmatized as a fruit is going to get.

My parents told me that back in the day in Asia, or at least China and Vietnam, besides getting beaten with sticks and rulers when students misbehaved, students also had the pleasure of kneeling on durian shells.  Uh, yeah, pretty painful.  I'm sure that this still happens in really, really rural parts of Asia.  That's one reason to hate durians -- its hard, spiky shell.

Can you imagine kneeling on these?

Another reason that durian is so stigmatized is because of its odor.  Believe it or not, not all people in Asia like durian.  The odor of durian is so offensive to some that signs are posted in subway stations in Singapore that prohibit the consumption or carrying of durian on their trains.  My mom use to always buy my siblings and I banh mi sandwiches to bring onto flights so that we don't starve, and she always made the point of telling the person making them to not include the pickled vegetables as the smell may offend other passengers, but uh, something tells me that durian takes the cake on most offensive smelling food.  By about a landslide.  Through Googling, I found all these amusing signs.  What's the fine for bringing a durian onboard anyways?  That's what I really want to know.

And I'm not sure how mangosteen ended up on this sign.  I mean, mangosteen never did anything to anyone besides be fragrant, delicious, and rich in antioxidants.  Hmmmmp.

Hard hat area.
Apparently, those signs are up in some parts of Asia like "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" signs are in the States and the smell of durian is just as offensive as smoking and pets.

Well, geez, it's just a fruit.

It wasn't until the past year or so when I decided to be a more adventurous eater that I decided to give durian a whirl.  I was offered a piece when I was in Hong Kong and decided, "Why not?".  I took a bite, chewed, swallowed and thought, "Hey... this isn't half bad!"  I ended up spending the rest of that trip hunting down durian desserts.  I had durian cream puffs, durian cake, durian with sago, durian with grass jelly and durian tarts. 

In the States, durian is readily available in many Asian supermarkets, like Ranch 99, if not fresh, then prepared and frozen.  Though I like durian now, fresh durian is still not something that I'd go out of my way to eat in the States.  There aren't street markets here where the keeper of the fruit stand will cut a fresh durian and prepare it right away for me, and I'd only want to eat it fresh, not frozen, so getting from the freezer aisle of an Asian supermarket is out of the question for me.  But, ya know, if there's fresh durian readily available and prepared... it might as well be in my belly!

My Asian friends always poke fun at me and tell me that I'm really, really white washed for an Asian person.  Well, when we hit up the Asian snack and dessert cafes, I show them who's really Asian... By ordering durian dessert.  Half the time, the cafe's out of durian and my friends are thankful.  The other half of the time, though, they hate me and move over to the next table as soon as the dessert comes out if they can.  Take that.

Mmmmm... Durian :)

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June 02, 2012
Banning a fruit? Sounds like one of Bloomberg's dictatorial "protection" measures.
March 29, 2011
It's funny, I used to hate durian when I was little too!! But as I got older, I started to enjoy it and will eat it when ever I get a chance! Last year, I had 2 very good durian experiences, one was eating it right off a street stall in Singapore, and the other was eating it in a restaurant in Japan deep fried in batter, both were delicious!!!
March 29, 2011
Whoa, I've never had deep fried durian before, but I want to try it! Whenever I make it to Hong Kong, I love having it cut fresh in the street stall on that one street full of fresh produce. I've grown to like it so much that I might even change my +4 rating to a +5... :D
March 27, 2011
Fascinating review. I never even heard of this before. At first glance if you asked me what I was looking at I would guess some creature that resides at the bottom of the sea and not a piece of fruit. I doubt I would have the courage to try it but maybe if somebody paid me enough..... I am not very courageous when it comes to sampling exotic foods. But thanks for expanding my horizons with your excellent review. Think I would rather know a little about it than eat it.
March 27, 2011
Glad I could enlighten you! If you get the chance to try it, I say at least take a nibble! This stuff is amazing to me. I can't guarantee that you'll like it since I know some people who can't stand it (I don't get them!), but at least you can say you've tried it, and who knows, maybe you'll end up liking it :D
July 11, 2010
Funny and informative review. I love the photos. I didn't realize that there were actual places that banned fruit. That's fruit prejudice! LOL!
July 11, 2010
Thanks, Orlok! They're banned from tight-spaced public places, too, like various modes of public transportation, for obvious reasons.... ;)
September 17, 2009
Durian? Hate durian? Lol... you are an alien! I love Durians. The BEST!!! Durians in Indonesia are great and a lot cheaper than in Malaysia and Thailand.
September 17, 2009
Well, to be fair, I think most people start off not quite liking durian, but then slowly acquire a taste for it. I thought durian was cheap all over Asia! My parents just discovered that a local Asian market is selling fresh durian. It's pricey though. The frozen one is $1.99/lb and the fresh one is $5.99/lb. There's such a huge contrast between the appearance, and I'm sure the taste, too, of both of them.
September 17, 2009
I grew up eating durian, I have never heard it as an acquired taste. The smell is really the draw as those who truly like durian will have a tendency to smell their hands after eating durian & washing up! :)
September 17, 2009
Whoa, that's awesome and kind of hardcore! Most children I know don't eat it, and the people who I do know who eat it said that they acquired a taste for it in adulthood. I don't eat durian too often, so that conversation always comes up when I do eat it :P
August 14, 2009
It's the texture that gets me more than the smell. That mushy, custardy (and not in a good way), juiceless combo does not make for good mouth feel. But yet I continue to give it the benefit of the doubt and take at least one open-minded bite every time it's offered. Who knows? Maybe I'm just having a delayed reaction and could actually grow to like it one day :)
August 14, 2009
Yeah, the texture really got to me as a kid. I thought I was eating brains! But it has recently been growing on me. Maybe you shouldn't eat it straight; you should have it with grass jelly, as ice cream, cake, and according to @Sharrie's review of strawberry ice cream, durian is even available in gelato!
August 16, 2009
Durian tastes like onion custard. I really enjoy lychees and aloe vera juice.
August 14, 2009
ha ha! I am actually very familiar with this fruit. It is tasty and delicious but it sure smells bad. Even when one makes it into candy form, it still stinks. Give me Fugu anytime than this LOL! great review as usual!
August 14, 2009
Thanks! Whoooa, you like the taste, but you think it still smells bad? Maybe my memory of liking durian is a little hazy then... :P Heck, if there's fugu around here, I'd rather try that than durian. Sounds way more thrilling! :D
August 14, 2009
Oh... and apparently I was commenting on your Durian review at the same time you were commenting on my Lychee review! OMG! :)
August 14, 2009
We've got ESP!
August 14, 2009
Hey, you beat me to it. I was going to review Durian too! I love Durian (it's second on my list after Lychee) I have yet to see an American eat and love Durian though. As a kid, I have to admit that I actually didn't start liking it until about the 3rd time eating it. But I've since been addicted to it. In Vietnam, they have a saying that Durian is "so stinky that the flies won't even come near it" :) I disagree! Hail to the "King of Fruits!!!" :)
August 14, 2009
I don't think I've ever actually seen a non-Asian person eat durian before. And I don't know... I'm pretty sure that I've seen flies hovering over durians before! Yes, durian is totally the King of Fruits, might as well just give it a crown or a belt :P
August 14, 2009
No, it's Literally given the crown of "The King of Fruits" ....Seriously! Don't believe me? Google "King of Fruits".
August 14, 2009
I didn't know that, that's awesome!  I still think it should get a crown and/or a belt.
August 13, 2009
Now me wants some durian!! :D
August 13, 2009
Psssst, Ranch 99... Oh, and it'd be handy to have a butcher knife, too ;)
More Durian reviews
Quick Tip by . April 26, 2010
King of tropical fruits. You haven't grasp the meaning of fruits until you try this one out! ;-)      One man's poison, another man's meat (or profit? ;-)). It's the smell, baby, the smell!!! Best to take a glass of salt water after Durian as it is quite 'heaty'! Do not drink wine with Durians. It will kill. 
Quick Tip by . March 30, 2010
posted in Go Indonesia
Durian in Indonesia are cheap and good. Yum! Must eat! ***drooling***
Quick Tip by . March 10, 2010
posted in The Rice Table
King of the tropical fruits with a large following in Asia. I love this fruit & also when made into icecreams, drinks, cakes & love letters!
About the reviewer
devora ()
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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About this food


The durian is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio and the Malvaceae family (although some taxonomists place Durio in a distinct family, Durionaceae). Widely known and revered in southeast Asia as the "king of fruits", the durian is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

The durian, native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as "a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds". The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.

There are 30 recognised Durio...
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