chinatown October 7,2008 001
Yours truely pointing out a durian last seen 30 years ago in Malaysia. What is its appeal. Because of the strong odor hotels in SE Asia ban it. An acquired taste. As far as just the sensation on your tongue goes, it's sweet and creamy. Or the best stuff is anyway. Imagine nougat that's soft and melts in your mouth slowly.
The smell's something else. The closest thing it smells like to me is unlit gas from your stove, but sweeter. Not quite as sickly sweet as the smell of petroleum. Fragrant to me, stinky to others.
Writing in 1856, the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace provides a much-quoted description of the flavour of the durian:
"A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy."
Wallace cautions that "the smell of the ripe fruit is certainly at first disagreeable"; more recent descriptions by westerners can be more graphic. The English novelist Anthony Burgess famously said that dining on durian is like eating vanilla custard in a latrine. Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says:
"... its odor is best described as pig-sh1t, 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."