“Weekly” Challenge 18: Durian

It’s pretty stupid calling it a weekly challenge at this point, considering that it has been more than 6 months since the last one.  But hey, I’ve got a series going, even if it’s inconsistent, so I’m sticking with it, with added quote marks to indicate that I know it’s not so much accurate!

Anyway, today’s post is about a challenge we actually completed ages ago, but that I totally forgot to post.  We’re coming into durian season again here.  The supermarket is getting a bit smelly, and the smell reminded me that at the end of last durian season we tried this famous fruit.

If you’ve ever lived in or visited South East Asia, you are very likely familiar with durian.  But if you’re not, durian is:

regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk(Wikipedia)

The smell is intense.  So intense that malls, hotels, and all sorts of other places around Asia ban them entirely.  People seem to smell it differently, and it has been described as ” rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage”.  The Engineer picks up the turpentine/gasoliney smells.  I, on the other hand, definitely get the rotten onions.  Lovely.

The soft flesh is (apparently) a rich custard with an amazing flavour.  But as you will see, I am not convinced!

We were not game to purchase a whole durian.  They are huge, and expensive.   So we don’t have a picture of our own.  But the internet has come through for us with this great shot of the thorny beast:

Durian: the king of fruits.  (Photo credit: Hafiz Issadeen)

Durian: the king of fruits. (Photo credit: Hafiz Issadeen)

Instead we bought a small portion of the durian flesh from the supermarket, tried not to totally stink out our car, brought it home and dubiously cracked open the small packet.  We were left with this (plus a bit more, but this was more than enough):

A very small portion of a rather scary fruit

A very small portion of a rather scary fruit

 

We took a small piece, and one by one we tried it.  I bravely went first.  After a quick sniff, I was not convinced I wanted to, but for the sake of the blog, I persevered and got it in my mouth.

Not impressed...

Not impressed…

As you can see.  I did not love it.  In fact, I was rather toddler like in my extreme distaste, and I was not afraid to show it.  I am proud to say that I did not spit it out.

The Engineer was next.  He was a little more brave, more stoic (as usual), and a little less expressive.  But he was also less than enamoured with his first taste of durian.  After trying and not hating durian chips, I think he was expecting something more pleasant.  But the real thing just doesn’t compare!

 

A little less expressive, but also not impressed!

A little less expressive, but also not impressed!

The problem with writing this post is that the taste is virtually impossible to describe.  I would love to give a good wine-label type description of its flavour, with notes and hints and all, but all I can really say is that it doesn’t taste as bad as it smells, as seems to have been the case in many of our challenges (see dried cuttlefish, century egg).  It’s a bit sickly sweet, like a jack fruit.  But with some other weird and wacky flavours that make it rather less nice (and I am not a big fan of jackfruit!)  It is possible that we got a dud one – we had no idea how to pick – but after that first taste, it will be a while before we’re back.

Basically, if you want to understand durian, you will just have to come to Asia and try it yourself!  If you can, I would recommend finding someone local to help you select a good version. It might help!  (though I also suspect that even the good version would not be my bag).

Writing this has also given me a great idea.  You may have seen Pucker – a great compilation of kids trying lemons for the first time (if not, here it is).

What about babies trying durian?  Or even adults?  If our facials are anything to go by, you might get some good expressions!

 

Hopefully this is the start of a renewed interest in writing this blog.  But with the wee one due to arrive in less than a month, I am making no guarantees. I have got a couple more challenges up my sleeve though before the big challenge of parenthood begins.  So we will see!

 

 

 

5 thoughts on ““Weekly” Challenge 18: Durian

  1. Katherine says:

    Wow durian is a crazy one! I have tried it just out of the same curiosity that you guys have 🙂

    What I remember most was that all evening after we tried it, it kept coming back in he form of terrible tasting burps. It was not a good thing. Yet, I was silly enough to subsequently try a durian hard candy. Yep, I thought they would have made it better but nope the candy was just as gross as the real thing.

    A series of adults trying durian would be hilarious. We did a similar test at the Kai fest back in February with kaanga piro (fermented corn). Even with cream and sugar, none of us kept a straight face while sampling it.

    So exciting that you’re just a month away from parenthood! Hope all has been going well and that you had a nice visit to NZ. All the best for an exciting month!

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    • jenn says:

      Thanks for your reply! Lovely to hear from you 🙂

      I don’t think we ate enough to get the burps… I have had lots of people say the chips/candy are better, but sounds like they’re lying, so might skip those ones! Fermented corn sounds pretty bad too. Yuck!

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  2. on9techbp says:

    Came across your wordpress at google. I have to say a lot of people from the West cannot stand the taste and fragrance of the durian. It is called the king of fruits for some reasons.
    I read on this post that you have tried the ones you have bought from the “supermarket”. No one ever buy these unless they are really desperate for a durian. Those sold in supermarket are not fresh and were plucked from the tree and shipped over. Eventually the real taste and smell of the durians is lost. And in the end, you get a really disgusting durian. I wouldn’t want to eat that either.
    Here is some tips: get to know some of the locals, and they will show, or even give you for free to taste one of nature’s heavenly fruit that is really the true durian. Like many fruits, durian has many different species. One of the most expensive is the Musang King, which is originated from the West Malaysia region. If you are ever there and would like to try again your durian challenge, make sure you grab one of these with a friend. Cost about RM30/kg. Most expensive of it’s kind. Second comes the 32k durians, then the 24k durians. There are so many types and different taste for each. There is also the orange red skin that we call “mountain durians”. These kinds are love or hate it kind of durians. But beware of fake durians, which some people sell no-name durians using the famous durian names. Rather, find a durian merchant from people who recommend it.
    Anyway, it’s too long to put it on here. But please do yourself a favour, don’t ever buy from the supermarket. If you want to be a bit expert on this, touch the meat of the durian before purchasing. Feel if it’s hard, if it is, then it’s no good. It should feel like soft meat, that is the best kind.

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    • jenn says:

      Thanks for the tips! I see a lot of locals buying them at the supermarket here, and not many at the markets. But I will keep an eye out and try to find a better source. Not convinced I’ll like it, but I’m willing to try again!

      Like

  3. on9techbp says:

    Don’t eat durians from supermarket. They are not fresh and tasteless and they are not dropped from the tree naturally. But removed from the tree before they are cooked

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