Friday, April 28, 2006

Durian Quest

Perhaps one of the most notorious tropical fruits is the durian. Anthony Bourdain in his show Kitchen Confidential went to Vietnam to eat a live beating cobra heart. And a durian. Our guide says the Vietnamese saying about durians are that they "taste like heaven and smell like hell."

The smell is so awful that hotels have rules about guests bringing them to the room. The most common comparison is to dirty diapers.

Durians are actually available in the United States. The Korean run supermarket in my area sells them. Still, I was not leaving Vietnam without eating a durian.

Holding my durian.
Originally uploaded by yellojkt.
The durian is large with a tough spiky skin. The inside is divided into a series of of compartments each with its own pod. The pod contains a seed and the fruit surrounds the seeds. The fruit is sweet and mushy like over-ripe mango. Personally, I didn't find the taste or the smell as extreme in either direction as hyped. My son whose olafactory sense is probably keener than mine did find the smell a little repulsive.

The meat was very sticky and rather messy to eat. This durian was on the small side and it was still nearly a meal all to itself. I was a little underwhelmed with the experience, but perhaps I had built up the legendary durian just a little too much in my mind.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You can perhaps compare durian in my country to marmite in Britain. You either like it or not. Even within the country, many people can't stand its strong odour, whereas many other become durian addicts after their very first try.

It seems to me that Vietnamese people generally prefer that state of fruits which the Western call 'over-ripe'. Not only durian, but also banana, mango,etc. I'm sure you'll find Thai's fruits more similar to your personal preference.