D is for Durian

D is durian.   My dear blogging friend Sarah graciously has contributed this wonderful post about her experience with this very unusual fruit.  I am so pleased she offered to share this for the blogging challenge.  The only place I have ever seen durian before is on Chopped on Food Network TV.


By Sarah Summerlin

When I first moved to Kuala Lumpur, I could not understand what the nauseating smell was that hit me when entering some grocery stores. Not the stores marketing to expats like me, but the ones the ones where the locals shopped, the bumiputra and others. My stomach would seemingly flip in on itself and stifling a gag reflex, I would work my way through the produce section as quickly as possible to reach the drygoods aisles where the smell was less intense.


courtesy of Wikipedia

As a newcomer in the country, the older residents loved to tease about durian: Have you tried it yet? Have you seen the ‘No Durian’ signs in some establishments? As a person who loves, and can at the very least tolerate, a wide range of foods, it took me a long time to realize that that nauseating smell was actual coming from ripe fruit that many consider a delicacy. The ‘No Durian’ signs in hotels and shops were no joke. The smell was intense and not universally appreciated. Later, as I grew more savvy, I learned to hold my breath as I walked past the outdoor durian stands.


I’m a little disappointed that I’m holding my nose here. I swear I did try it. And look how skinny I used to be!

But if you think for a minute that that stopped me from trying durian, think again. I wasn’t going to live in an area in which it was so accessible and never have the experience no matter how repugnant the smell. My opportunity came during a city-wide scavenger hunt organized by some colleagues in which one of the items to accomplish was to (no surprise) try durian.
The outside of the fruit is greenish and spiky, whereas the inner fruit is yellowish (more or less in different varietals). Each packet of yellowish fruit is encased in a thin, edible skin, and I’d describe the consistency of the inside as like a very, very ripe avocado. Easy to mash with a fork if one so chose.


courtesy of Wikipedia

I’ve heard the taste compared to onions or garlic or stinky cheese. Now, I love onions, garlic, and stinky cheese so I would never insult those delicious foods by comparing them to durian. To me, durian tastes like rot. Some have tried it and disliked it; I tried it, and to this day I still shiver. I am fighting back a gag reflex while typing this. (Seriously, I just took a minute to take some deep breaths.) How anyone could like this fruit is astonishing to me, but I know it is true. I’ve seen it enjoyed.
But perhaps you love durian. Or maybe you’re an adventurous eater who knows where to find it (I hear it can be bought frozen in the US). If so, here are some recipes to tempt you.
Durian ice cream
Durian smoothie
Durian pancake with almond praline and gula melaka caramel sauce
Thank you, Val, for having me! Durian is such a funny topic to share with other people. I’m interested in hearing who else has tried it, and especially if any of your readers like it!

About the Author:

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Sarah Summerlin is a SAHM of two and wife of one who lives and blogs in the DC Metro area. She likes her 24-hour a day job but carves out as much time as she can to make stuff, be it with a sander, a sewing machine, or a sauté pan. She blogs about her projects, mothering a special needs child, and whatever else strikes her fancy.


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18 Responses to D is for Durian

  1. Jen @ Driftwood Gardens says:

    Well this just sealed the deal for me. I’ve never tried durian. Like Val I’ve only ever seen it on Chopped and they always seem very unhappy when it’s a basket ingredient. Thanks for shedding some light on the subject of durian!

  2. Val says:

    Jen, I hope you are still willing to write the N post for the challenge. I am looking forward to it.

  3. fangboner1 says:

    There are some fruits I would love to try. Like Buddahs hand…but this was never on the list and I can safely say it will never be on the list now. ICK!!! I think I missed that chopped episode because we love that show hard core but I dont remember seeing it there.

  4. amycake76 says:

    Thank you for having me, Val! Such fun!

  5. ivywalker says:

    OMG I am having such bad flashbacks to corpses… It was the term rot… I used to run a cadaver lab and rot was a daily problem… I have heard of durian and this horrible stink/taste issue… never and probably wont ever try it…

  6. spunkonastick says:

    I remember this being the one food the guy from Bizarre Foods would NOT eat. It sounds disgusting.

  7. Joy Christi says:

    This is awesome, thanks for sharing! I have never heard of it, but I can tell you from how strong the smell is that I won’t like it. I wish my smell wasn’t so sensitive, but it is. I wish I could get rid of it altogether, it would be worth it! Then I could eat a wider variety of foods. And clean my teen son’s room without gagging! hahahaha
    Great post!

  8. David B. says:

    It’s never smelled that bad to me. Strong, yes. And, at first, intimidating. But not unwholesome or bad. Then again, I’m one of those who like it. Actually, “like” is way too weak a word to describe my affinity for durian. It’s so good it’s beyond words. And no, I’m not Asian and I didn’t grow up with it.

    My theory is that the chemical makeup of the aroma is close enough (chemically) to the vile things that some compare it to that some people’s noses just can’t distinguish the difference. And of course, if your nose can’t, then your body is going to rebel at the notion of eating what your nose says you are eating and you’ll loathe it.

    I will say that if it tasted like it smelled I’d hate it — but to me it tastes very different than it smells.

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  10. dyannedillon says:

    I am SO not adventurous with food (I’m the one who has divided plates so my food doesn’t touch). When the annual Marian Days festival is in a neighboring town, bringing tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics from all over the country, there are food stands with durian and jackfruit and other unidentifiable fruits. We haven’t tried them, because you have to buy the whole fruit. I wish they’d do a sampler, although I’d have to draw the line at durian. No thank you!

Your comments make my heart soar.