Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Durian Durian

And I'm not talking about the guys who are "Hungry Like the Wolf"

I was watching one of my favourite shows last night, "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain. I love that guy! I bought my mum his book last year for Christmas. Bourdain's had a crazy life, and this bookworm highly recommends the book.

Anyway, it got me thinking back to one of my favourite episodes. Bourdain was touring Indonesia. And one of the segments was about him procuring some durian fruit.

This is a durian fruit, in case you haven't seen one.

They're crazy looking. Large, spiky...interesting looking fruit.

But the ODOR these things give off! I've never been brave enough to buy a durian fruit and sample its alleged gastronomic delights. I couldn't get near enough to one without seriously wrinking my nose....

One of the largest shopping malls in the world is West Edmonton Mall, located in the city of my birth. It's so huge, that large sections of the mall are called "phases".

The mall attractions include an ice skating rink, a live sea lion exhibit, a mini golf range, a swimming waterpark, a rifle range, several nightclubs, and over 800 stores.

In one phase is the 'T&T Supermarket'. A very large market specializing in Asian food. I loved it in there, where else could I get mouthwatering barbequed pork, and lychee juice in one go?

Durian has an absolutely deterrent smell. The scent of durian can transcend the entire produce section. You walk in the store, and it punches you in the face.

The smell has been likened to many things. I personally think it smells like dirty diapers. Other 'internet' people have posted these descriptions:

~fermented onions.
~overripe cheese.
~Rotting fish.
~Unwashed socks.
~A city dump on a hot summers day.
~Historians report that Sir Stamford Raffles, who established Singapore as a British trading post in 1819, held his nose and ran in the other direction if he caught even a whiff of the dreaded fruit.
~Another former British governor likened the stench to carrion in custard.

Some establishments have rules against the possession of this offensive fruit:

But people love it! It's regarded as a delicacy in some circles.

People even eat durian cake O_O

Proof that you just have to get past the smell: this is footage from the "No Reservations: Indonesia" episode (the durian part starts at about 5:50, if you want to skip the beginning)

If Anthony can eat it, I can eat it! The only problem is, now I can't find any in eastern North Carolina. :P

I can't find lychee juice either. Now THAT is a shame. :(

Have any of you ever laid eyes on a durian fruit? Or a better question, have any of you ever laid nose or (gasp!) mouth on a durian fruit?


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I was curious about Durians the other day when a friend mentioned them. I've never actually met one in person. I think it's rather amusing there are 'no durians' signs. Too funny. Isn't it enough these things kill people? Do they have to smell bad too? I wonder with the cake though if the offensive odor dissipates with baking? Now I'm really curious about them! Bourdain didn't seem too offended by them...I've probably eaten worse!

The Idiot Gardener said...

I would say that some Durian have a smell of dog pooh. The scent changes, and the real durian freaks can tell how it will taste by the smell.

I can't instantly recall the name, but there's a little town at the North end of the Chao Praya Express run which is made for the Durian.

For me, the taste was a little disappointing. I had expected some real luxurious creamy texture, but it was a bit flat. It's nice, don't me wrong, and worth trying. However, the hype does somewhat build you up for a veritable taste explosion.

That said, some durian change hands for thousands of dollars, and mine cost around 100 Baht!

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

My wife would probably compare this with the fruit of the Paw Paw tree which she describes in much the same way but which to me smells and tastes, "Something Like," way over-ripe banana.

Grower Jim said...

Oh, they are delicious! You must try one if you ever get the chance! The flavor is hard to describe but quite good. That's why people put up with the smell! Sometimes you can find them in produce markets in South Florida.

Kyna said...

Hmm, sounds to me like it's something that's a bit of an acquired taste :)

CVF: It's really an experience just to find them in a grocery store with no directions, just your nose lol. You're right though, I'm know I've eaten some weird things too...I love escargots more than anybody....but I don't think anything I've eaten smells quite as bad as a durian does to me :D

IG: I'll make sure I don't get my hopes up too high if I ever have the chance to try one. :D Durian freaks can tell by the smell: so is it 'the stinkier the better'? Thousands of dollars for a durian fruit? Wow. Sounds like the tuna of the fruit world. Hell, it smells like the tuna of the fruit world... :P

Abraham: I've never seen (or smelled) a paw paw fruit. I know that people can grow those trees here...I must search one down :D

Jim: Yep, I bet southern Florida has every international food imaginable floating around. I want to visit there just to get a good Cuban sandwich. *drools a little*

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

Kyna, there is a T & T supermarket in Toronto as well. I think that I might go there and just "look" at them, do not know if I would have the nerve to try one.

Kyna said...

I don't know...I'm thinking you should go for it :D ;)

Pick up some bbq pork for me! :D

Amy said...

Hi, Kyna ~ I have never heard of durian before. I don't know if I could stand the smell of dirty diapers, again. I have been through that stage with three boys. I enjoyed your post. That sounds like quite a mall in West Edmonton!

Kyna said...

Three boys? Wow :D I don't have any kids of my own. My husband is finished with kids and pets. He says I can plant as many trees as I want as long as I don't bring home a cat lol.

Yep, West Ed mall was awesome. Sort of a big tourist trap, but I loved it. If I couldn't find what I was looking for there, I couldn't find it anywhere. I miss that place.

Glad I got to show you something new with this blog post! :)

Melanie said...

Hi fellow Canadian!
To me Durians always smelled like the bathroom. But their taste is divine. I haven't eaten them since I lived in Malaysia in the mid seventies. You can sometimes buy them at the superstore here in Prince George.

Kyna said...

Hi there :D

That's really cool that you lived in Malaysia. I never thought I'd leave Canada, ever, and here I am. NC isn't quite as exotic though lol.

Jan Johnsen said...

my son did a report on your mall in 3rd grade - he wanted to go there and stay in the hotel in the mall....it has made Edmonton famous!

never heard of a durian before - great post!

Kyna said...

Thank you! :D

Your son makes the third person I've met that's told me they did a report on the mall when they were a kid lol That's awesome.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I remember reading about Durians on a blog that I think was from India and the poster and all of the commenters talking about how horrible they smell. I've never seen or smelled one though.
Anthony Bourdain is pretty tough, I've seen him eat some very strange things. I can imagine him being able to eat it.

Shady Gardener said...

Thank you for visiting me today. :-) I have to defer to my daughter's reaction to durian. She spent a summer in Bangkok. She had No appreciation for it at all, but remarked that it is considered a delicacy. ;-)

Kyna said...

Catherine: It did seem like kind of a walk in the park for him lol. I wish I was one of those people that would try anything, but I'm not. :P

SG: That's cool that your daughter got to spend some time in Thailand :D Thanks for sharing her reaction to durian (one more vote for 'disgusting' lol). I had a Gaelic football teammate that taught school in Thailand for awhile. I think he and his wife really loved it there :D

beth said...

Love the post. I am now really interested in durian fruit! Very interesting.


Kyna said...

Thanks for reading! :D I love sharing info that's a little out of the ordinary :)

Carol said...

What a fun and informative post Kyna! You have to wonder what would make a plant produce fruit with such a smell ... to deter animals or insects from eating it most likely. It even produces all those spines... what a curious fruit. I am always amazed by plant consciousness... must be something to do with survival. What a pity you cannot find them ... maybe someone will read this and send you a box!! ;>)) The postal service may have something to say! lol You have inspired me to want to go and find some!

Kyna said...

Thanks Carol!

I was thinking that about the smell and the spininess too. Guess you can't deter humans from anything, even if it works on animals lol.

It's funny that you say that about the post office. I live in a rural town, about 5 minutes away from a little bit larger town called Swansboro. The post office is very small, with the same two guys working at the desk every day. I think they already think I'm some sort of smuggler, always sending stuff off to Canada. Can you imagine if this came for me? They'd probably quit lol!