Saturday, June 2, 2007

Durian Fruit

Our adventures now take us to Southeast Asia. Let’s say that you are sightseeing in Malaysia, and you get a hankering for a snack. Next, just for the sake of argument, let’s imagine your appetite is piqued by something for which the following can be said:

... its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia.

– Travel Writer Richard Sterling

Sound good?

If so, you will probably love the durian fruit. From Wikipedia:
The durian is the fruit of trees of the genus Durio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows and linden trees. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits," the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and a formidable thorn-covered husk. Its name comes from the Malay word duri (thorn) together with Malay suffix that is -an (for building a noun in Malay), meaning "thorny fruit."

Ok, as someone with a background in Biology I did a little thinking. Why would the fruit smell like that? Probably to attract animals to eat the fruit. Why would a plant want animals to eat the fruit? Seed dispersal. Then why cover the fruit with a thorny husk? Probably to discourage tiny, inefficient agents of dispersal.

Animals I can understand. But why in the hell would any human want to eat something that looks like entrails and smells like pig shit?

I just don’t get it. Can you help me translate?

Beenzzz's Translation: "Shit flavored fruit sounds so tantalizing."


Lyndon said...

So I guess it's safe to say that you haven't tried it yourself :-)

I've seen it sold in my local grocery, but after reading your wonderful description, I think I'll just leave it where it is.

botheyesgreen said...

The taste of Durian is not bad, considering...
"Surstromming", however, is excruciatingly disgusting :)

N.B. Goldstein said...

Lyndon - yep, I'm with you. The grocery shelf is a good place to leave it.

Botheyesgreen - wow! You've tried it? Cool! What does it taste like? I assume it doesn't TASTE like pig shit. I'll check on the surstromming. Thanks for the tip!

Translator said...

Wow. Surstromming is a Sweedish delicacy of fermented Baltic herring. I'll HAVE to try that one. And we'll have to post an article about it soon!

Thanks for the info, Botheyesgreen!

botheyesgreen said...

nb. goldstein ~ The taste is very discreet ~. though the overpowering smell of latrine sure makes you *feel* like you're eatin shit ~seriously. I guess that's why people need hard liquor to down it :)

translator ~ you can do this two ways, 1) the traditional hardcore way, serving from the can with the herring still in its fluids~ 2) or you can drain the fish and let it be outdoors for at least half an hour before you eat, that way you will feel the taste..

Beware when you open the can though, there's mighty high pressure inside!

Translator said...

YIKES! Sounds scary!

Jaya said...

Aye!! This sounds SO disgusting!
I am totally unable to help with
any sort of translation of this!!!

Miss Cutie said...

Hi. I am a Malaysian and I love durians. Many people in the world are making fun of durians because they judge a book from it's cover. Well... you know that you shouldn't ever do that, but you still do...

Have you ever tasted it? You should. Then you would regret all the negative things you said about durians.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha... I feel so funny because I don't understand why people (and you especially) think that we should not eat durians. ha ha ha ha ha (tickles me a lot, sorry if i offended you)

Btw, have a nice and productive day. Actually i really had a good laugh reading your contents. You're doing a great job here. I like it! It's really goooooooooood!

p.s. You can visit my blog and and give comments there.


Translator said...

Hi, Miss Cutie,
Thanks for visiting! I appreciate your input, too! Sorry if I sounded too critical, but I'm not trying to be judgemental!

I'm just describing things the way other people see them - Richard Sterling described Durian as smelling of "pig-shit", not me.

Since I've never tried it, I appreciate input from everyone who has. With you're good review, perhaps I'll have to give them a try!

Thanks for commenting, and you're welcome back any time!

Beenzzz said...

Shit flavored fruit sounds so tantalizing.

Jollence Lee said...

I think you should try it.
in Malaysia we had a Durian in
icecream, candy and cakes.
If you eat durian better not to drink any alcoholic drink. Don't even try to have this two thing together into your mouth.
"Smell like hell taste like heaven"
Actually we called it

Anonymous said...

i heard a radio report about a Thai bio-engineer who has invented a odorless durian which is about to hit the market.

Another interesting shit smelling food is "stinky tofu" from Taiwan, I just tried it and it is the closest smelling tasting food to shit I can imagine, it is fried shit and they love it in Taiwan. If anyone can figure out the food/shit connection puzzle send me an email:

Alwizbme said...

emm.. well, the disturbing smell of durian to many non-asian is just like the the disturbing smell of cheese to many asians... but one get used to it and enjoy the heavenly taste of each one.. as it is... I say fresh durian is nothing, try translate "tempoyak"... aka fermented durian.. :)

Mirah said...

Sorry to dissapoint you. but durian doesn't taste anything like pig-shit. I always eat it, but it never tastes like pig-shit. or else i would have vomited. it taste sweet and tasty, the odor is nyummy, to attract animals.

but seriously taste like pig-shit?

some people don't like to eat it because it has a very strong smell. if u eat it. You won't be able to get the smell of for a few hours even if u brush your teeth a dozen times.

Those who have a sweet- tooth, try eating some durians it's really nyummy especially the thailand's one and my favourite "otak udang" (prawn's brain) it is named that way because the durian's colour is orange in colour that looks like a prawn's brain.

that's all.

BenPR said...


It is interesting reading your comments and I think it is a cultural thing.

I love cheese - even smelly cheese but Asian friends think the smell is horrific!

I have travelled quite a lot in Asian and have tried Durian ... it does smell of "pig shit" but a lot of people love the taste. Personally I could not overcome the smell ... and was gagging by the time I got the fruit to my mouth. The sweet taste was over powered by the smell for me.

You should always be open to trying new things once ... however with Durian I would question this mantra ... unless you want to "stitch up" a friend!