Durian – A Questionable Fruit
Have you heard of durian? Have you tried a durian? It is usually a very memorable experience. Durian fruits are popular throughout Asia and come in several varieties. Some people find the smell of taste of durian to be quite enjoyable. However, to many, many others, the smell and taste are disgusting. Yep. Some describe the smell and flavor as deep caramel, roasted almonds, a rich custard. Others (including myself) feel that the taste is closer to sewage, used surgical swabs, or stale vomit.
I first experienced durian in college. I had 2 Chinese housemates and they enjoyed expanding my culinary experience. So we often went to the one Asian market (at the time) that was within 80 miles (Talin in Albuquerque, NM). Durian was just one the things they felt I needed to try. I made the mistake of opening the spiky fruit beast in the kitchen. I immediately had to remove it from the house as it was just to repugnant to my (unrefined) nose. One of my Chinese friends thoroughly enjoyed it, but had to eat it outside.
My parents visited my sister in Seattle over the summer and they went to an Asian market where my parents picked up a durian for M3 and I. Why, you will have to ask them. M3 was pretty excited about the mutant fruit as he had heard so much about it over the years. It appears on one cooking or food show from time to time as it is one of those eatable mysteries. Why do some folks so love the durian while others equate it to the smell of an open landfill?
We took precautions. We had old farm clothes on in case the smell could not be easily removed. We decided to open it outside. Likewise, we put it in a glass bowl (less likely to hold a taint of flavor) and used the 4th best knife to open it. It must have been quite ripe as we could easily smell the faintest durian aroma wafting off of it. As M3 bravely sliced into it, the smell grew. To my surprise, it was not horrendous. It did smell of over ripe fruit, but not completely revolting. Perhaps my parents picked out a mellower variety of durian?
The spike skin of the fruit it thick and the inside is chambered. The meat of the fruit is of a custard consistency and the few seeds are a little smaller than a small apricot. M3 dug into the custardy fruit with a metal spoon. He sniffed at it. Then, he bravely put half a spoonful in his mouth. I swear, if I had not been watching him closely I would not be able to fully appreciate the speed with which the durian was projectile spit from his mouth. Wow! That was a swift decision.
M3 looked like he had been emotionally betrayed by the spiky, evil fruit. ‘Tastes like rotted, fermented onions,’ he said as he wiped his mouth. We should have had the hose ready to go, just in case we needed to power wash someone’s mouth.
M3 was kind enough to dig the durian seeds out for me and set them to dry. Because, obviously, the world needs more durian. Then we took the vile thing to the chickens. Supposedly, chickens have similar culinary likes and dislikes as humans because we have similar flavor pallets. The chickens absolutely loved the durian. They had a little party, full of plenty of clucking, a few chases as choice morsels were fought over, and the durian was devoured in record time. They looked a little sad when it was entirely gone.
I felt a little betrayed by my chickens.
M3 suggested that we don’t eat the eggs (unless used in baking) for the next day or two. After all, experiencing durian directly is quite memorable. Experiencing durian via chicken egg might scar me for life.