Sunday, September 25, 2005

Durian - polarizing, aromatic, tasty

The durian is a popular subject in the blog-o-sphere: a Google blog search for "durian" resulted in over 7600 hits. This most polarizing of fruits (love it!!! hate it!!!) even has its own subject heading in the Google Recreation > Food Directory with 12 entries, and is the only fruit or vegetable with a heading. For an audio introduction, visit the Good Food July 16, 2005 page (segment starts at 15:00).

According to the Wikipedia Durian entry, the fruit's name derives from the Malay word "duri", which means "spike" or "thorn", and because of the spikes, the 1-5 kg (2-10 lb.) weight, and the fact that it grows in tall trees, the fruit is quite dangerous to harvest (hardhats are required!).

On the last day of a trip to Bangkok I bought a few small pieces of durian from a street vendor. Since the durian is a large, spikey and complicated fruit, many vendors cut open the fruit to extract the inner goodness, then wrap it in plastic for sale. After I removed the plastic barrier, a strange aroma hit me: onions, garlic, mixed fruity sweetness, and a subtle "rotting" aroma. But when I put it into my mouth---and got past the strange aroma---I was rewarded with a complex and volatile flavor that seemed to include the essence of many fruits. The fruit was soft, like a non-sticky taffy, but with fibers near the pit. All in all, it was an exciting experience, and something that hard candy or ice cream cannot successfully replicate. Those forms tend to overemphasize the less attractive flavors and aroma. If given the opportunity, I shall certainly try fresh ripe durian again, ideally with the recommended mangosteen companion (durian is "hot", while mangosteen is "cool").

Preparing durian for sale in Kuala Lumpur

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1 comment:

doggybloggy said...

we have had durian from chinatown in NYC, do a search on my blog to see