Big, smelly and scary looking, durian dramatically splits opinion. Legendary all over Asia, the so-called ‘King of Fruits’ are usually bigger than a human head, while the husk of the fruit is covered with imposing spiky thorns.
Despite its formidable appearance, frequently the first impression of ‘love it or hate it’ durian is made well before it’s seen. It is more often the overwhelming smell of durian that provokes many to despise the unusual fruit, and it’s said you can smell a durian eater approaching at 100 paces.
Some compare the smell of durian to sewage, rotten onions or vomit – an aroma so overpowering that the fruit is banned in many public areas throughout Asia as well as in many hotels, on public transport and on airlines. Signs such as those announcing ‘No Smoking’ and ‘No Dogs’ are often accompanied by ‘No Durian’ demands such is the potency of its pungency.
For those who can overcome the aroma however, durian has an addictive quality. With a texture close to avocado combined with mango and custard, the flavor of durian is incomparable to any other fruit in the world. It’s fair to say the creamy pulp is best characterized by the word ‘indescribable’.
Newbies to this exotic luxury should beware however – should you become addicted to the formidable fruit there are medical risks to be aware of. A highly calorific treat, durian is rich in sugars, carbohydrates and fats, meaning that it’s a potential gastronomic grenade for those suffering from high blood pressure, diabetics or pregnant women.
Some may regard durian’s dangers as an old wives tale, but mixing hard liquor with the fruit is a deadly proposition. Durian’s high sulphur content has an adverse reaction on the body’s capacity to break down alcohol for almost 12 hours after eating, meaning simply that drinkers are more prone to alcohol poisoning when mixing the two.
So, if you find yourself falling on the side of ‘love it’ and partake in the odd alcoholic beverage or three, you’ll do well to remember: don’t drink and durian!
If you’d like to try durian while on your travels in Asia, be sure to let one of our expert Travel Specialists know, they will be happy to fit in a visit to a fresh market to sample the ‘King of Fruits’.