The durian

Attacking a giant backlog of postings on food and plants (mostly due to prompts from Juan Gomez), I give you today the King of Delicious Stink, the durian.


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)

More from Wikipedia:

The durian …] is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio. The name “durian” is derived from the Malay-Indonesian languages word for duri or “spike”, a reference to the numerous spike protuberances of the fruit, together with the noun-building suffix -an. There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit, and over 300 named varieties in Thailand. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold only in their local regions. There are hundreds of durian cultivars; many consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.

… The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour, which may linger for several days, has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.

You can apparently get durians in the Bay Area, especially in the South Bay (San Jose and its environs), where there are substantial Southeast Asian communities. Apparently, they usually come frozen and encased  in plastic, to eliminate the smell problem. You can also get durian ice cream, of several brands, from many sources in San Francisco and San Jose:


3 Responses to “The durian”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From John Lawler on Facebook:

    Durian gelato (as well as red bean, and other Asian flavors) are also widely available in the Richland suburb of Vancouver BC, which is majority Asian now.

  2. Victor Says:

    A couple of quick hits. Durian is popular as a sweets flavor as well. One of the more bizarre products I tried years ago was durian-flavored wafers (imitation of Bahlsen Waffeletten or any other of a wide variety of brands). The problem was, they contained no durian whatsoever (similar US product might be lime-and-guacamole flavored tortilla chips that contain no lime, garlic or avocado). The smell was somewhat similar but a bit less pernicious. Flavor was rather nondescript.

    One other item I do get with some regularity. Durian is a common flavor almost everywhere Hong Kong style shakes are sold (other common varieties include avocado, jackfruit, honeydew, red bean/azuki, green bean). Base ingredients vary somewhat, but usually include some combination of milk, water, vanilla ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, ice cubes.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Steve Az on Facebook:

    “Durian tree oh so pretty
    And the durian flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor durian
    Tastes improbably like feet.”

    From Wikipedia:

    “Lemon Tree” is a folk song written by Will Holt in the late 1950s. The tune is based on the Brazilian folk song Meu limão, meu limoeiro, arranged by José Carlos Burle in 1937 and made popular by Brazilian singer Wilson Simonal. The song compares love to a lemon tree: “Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”
    The song has been recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, Chad & Jeremy, The Kingston Trio, The Seekers, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Sandie Shaw, and Roger Whittaker. In 1965, Trini Lopez recorded the most successful version of the song

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