I tried my first durian yesterday! It’s definitely interesting… I mostly wanted to taste it because it’s supposed to be a favorite of orangutans, my favorite animal. So I figured, hey, if they like it, maybe I will, too.
It’s called the king of fruits, but is mostly known for being spikey, tasty, and for smelling terribly, which apparently inspires individuals to come up with the most unique descriptions they can. Richard Sterling describes the smell as, “pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” Anthony Burgess writes that eating durian is “like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory”. Anthony Bourdain describes eating the fruit thusly: “Its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” To me, it just smells like slightly rotten onions, although I think mine wasn’t especially ripe, as the smell wasn’t intolerable. After a while, though, the smell got stuck inside my nostrils and started to give me a headache and make my eyes want to water.
Getting it open was a bit of a pain. Its covered in very sharp, very dense spikes that tore through the latex gloves I was using. I have no idea how orangutans get it open, but once I got a nice cut in with a knife, it peeled open readily, and getting the flesh out is very simple. It has enormous, red seeds that you need to remove, but they come out without any effort and they’re about as big as peach pits, so you don’t need to worry about missing one. Uncooked, they’re toxic, but many eat them after they’ve been cooked.
Its taste, however, makes up both for its smell and for the difficulty in handling the fruit, and for the appearance of the flesh, which might charitably be described as malformed egg custard. The texture is just amazing. It reminds me of a flan or a custard or some other creamy dessert. It’s extremely smooth and just melts in your mouth. The flavor, I cannot describe. It’s definitely fruity, but I don’t think it resembles anything else. It’s hard to each much with the smell hanging around, though.
Overall, I think it’s good, although I can’t say it’s amazing. I certainly won’t be making it a regular part of my diet, although it’s supposed to be pretty good for you. I might try using it as an ingredient, though. I could probably make a good durian and mango orangutan cheesecake, especially with its texture.
Have you ever tried durian? What were your thoughts?