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February 01, 2010

Durian. Need I say more?

"...like you'd buried somebody holding a big wheel of Stilton in his arms, then dug him up a few weeks later."

-- Anthony Bourdain

"Durians Smell Awful — But the Taste Is Heavenly"

-- Smithsonian Magazine

"...a smell so overpowering that generations of Singaporeans have struggled to find a single description that fits. Among the charitable, printable comparisons: overripe cheese. Rotting fish. Unwashed socks. A city dump on a hot summer's day."

-- The New York Times

Liars.  All of them.  

The staff of Share Our Strength joined me in the durian dare as a way to say "thank you" to all of you who donated to our campaign here on the blog this year.  And you know what?   DURIAN DOESN'T SMELL BAD.

Now, let me say this: tasting it wasn't awful, either.  Texturally, it was kinda squicky... but the taste wasn't terrible.  The only even semi-objectionable part of the experience was the film it left on the roof of my mouth, and a few hours after I'd eaten it?  I burped, and that was not a pleasant experience.  Sneezing a few minutes after that?  Also not enjoyable.  But all it took was a simple brushing of the teeth, a scraping of the tongue, and a few glasses of water, and that all went away.

Hate to disappoint, but I'm here to dispel the myth that durian is the worst thing ever.  It's not.  It's sweet, but not sugary-sweet.  Just lightly sweet, like a banana milkshake.  It's custardy.  It's fragrant.  It's a bit like an almond-flavored avocado with a light tang in the aftertaste.  Touching its flesh was like touching the flesh of a mango. 

But it's not awful.  It's not disgusting.  It's not the worst thing ever.  Not even close.

See you soon......

p.s. -- the durian was from HMart, in case anyone wants to head out there and pick up one for themselves...


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Bravo! Yesterday I saw durian at my local H Mart and took a wide detour around the refrigerated bin. Didn't want to take even the chance of a foul whiff. Kudos to you and the gang at SOS for the work you and they do to help alleviate hunger. And, hey, how come there were no MEN in that crowd of SOS supporters?!

Better you than me, girlfriend! Kudos!

I bet it smells, uh, 'riper' in a steamy hot Sigapore summer....

Congrats, and good job!

Personally, I found it smelled like pineapple, with an overlay of rotten onion. I didn't like the taste, either - I got the rotten onion aspect of it there, too.

Maybe it's just the method of preparation, but the durian I've had has been lovely. There's a Vietnamese restaurant here in Seattle that has durian ice cream on the menu. Divine stuff. Of course, I'm not cutting open a fresh one in the heat of a South China Sea summer, so...

Where did you acquire it? I've never eaten or seen durian in person, but could it be that it wasn't ripe yet? On a side note, the smell of unripe bananas makes me want to throw up.

Fantastic. Next year you can raise money selling t-shirts that read "Texture Problem" T-shirts.

Great job.

I'm so glad you included a video in this post! A few months ago a friend and I were listening to a story on NPR about durian, and the report made it sound just god-awful nasty.
I think the reporter compared the smell to a 3-week old dirty baby diaper or similar.

Fast forward to couple of weeks ago, and this same friend and I were racking our brains trying to remember what this awful thing was called that NPR said smelled like a used baby diaper, and just could not remember. And now here it is -- durian! I can't wait to e-mail my friend and tell him I remember what the thing was called now, AND that there's a video to witness first hand what it looks like. So thanks, mystery solved! : )

How on Earth were you able to figure out what part of that thing you were supposed to eat--that thing looked complicated as hell, although maybe it was just the quick shot of the inside that was deceiving.

Kudos Carol. Rock those leopard gloves, babe.

I live in Sacramento and the Asian markets here carry durian. I don't know about other cities but my guess is that if you live in a large enough town and there is a substantial Asian population it shouldn't be too hard to locate. My experience was very similar to Carol's, although we tried it out of curiosity after hearing all the legends, not because of a bet. We found that it doesn't stink as advertised and I was vaguely disappointed about that. It made me feel that I hadn't truly joined the fraternity. It does have texture problems and the taste isn't bad but . . . I won't go out of my way to try it again.

Congratulations! And what good sports the people at Share Our Strength are to join you.

I've had durian twice -- once here and once in Thailand. They're a LOT less stinky (and less flavorful) once they're frozen for shipment and thawed, though even the one we ate locally we kept on the back porch until we were ready to eat it! :) I'm glad I've eaten it, but it's not a flavor I crave.

I admit, I'm still scared to try it. Love that the Share Our Strength staff shared in your last task - very cool.

So, you closed this fundraiser with a golden key!

I wish I could try it - I've never seen it for sale, though...


Hi, i thought Durian smelled like asian groceries, that sort of oniony garlicky smell overlayed with fruitiness that a little yoghurty.

also i saw this http://candyyumyum.blogspot.com/2010/02/pass-me-another-bon-bon-darling.html and thought it was worth pointing out to you for the gluten free bon bons.

I had it in South China while visiting a former student. The smell is definitely not a myth.

I don't mind durian at all, it smells like pungeant onions to me, but tastes like the most amazing vanilla custard...that you are eating while cleaning out the pantry of rotten onions. But it is not a food to disregard! Everyone should try it!

BTW, I've only had the frozen kind, never found it fresh.

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