October 03, 2006

Durian - The King Of Fruits...And Smells

The first time I tried Durian was in Vietnam. I had heard a lot about this fruit, and it was inevitable that some day I would get an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity.

A cyclo-driver, who became a friend, quickly managed to locate a Durian for me. The hard outer casing of the fruit is covered in spines, and watching my friend go to work with a large knife, concerned me no end, as it seemed very likely that a finger would be removed sooner than the skin of the fruit.

I found myself jolting each time the blade struck, expecting a scream to follow, as well as an emergency visit to the local hospital, where a detached digit in ice could be reattached! I wondered what the statistics were for Durian accidents in Southeast Asia.

Finally, my friend managed to break through, and a strong smell of vomit started to permeate the air. Durian is infamous for its odour. For those not initiated, the smell can often cause such a revulsion that the very idea of eating it becomes an unlikely proposition indeed. However, those brave enough to open their mouths and ingest the inner fruit, will find the taste very different from the smell. The yellow flesh inside is sweet and tastes more like a rich custard, rather than the discharge of an underage drinker.

Since that first encounter, Durian is a fruit that I always track down when I am in its geographical location. It comes highly recommended. If the fruit's smell seems overwhelming, then try some of Thailand's Durian flavoured chips; they smell like vomit and taste like...well...vomit.

Photography and Story by El-Branden Brazil

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