Durian is the most popular fruit with Thai people. In fact, it is called “The King of Fruits”, but most Westerners are completely unfamiliar with this distinctive food. Almost all farangs (Western foreigners in Thailand) can remember their experience with Durian. It is a real adventure.
One thing that sets Durian apart from all other fruits — or all other foods, for that matter — is the smell of Durian. You can smell it slightly when it is intact, but the big aroma comes out when you crack open the husk. Durian lovers (primarily Thai people) believe the smell to be “fragrant.” Westerners smelling it for the first time find it overpowering, offensive and it usually evokes a reaction of strong disgust. I would describe the smell as similar to rotten onions, turpentine and dirty gym socks all mixed together. Never cut open a Durian for the first time inside your house or apartment, or else you will want to go check into a hotel for the night. The “fragrance” lingers. It IS truly a culinary adventure.
My wife, a native Thai, loves the smell of Durian. My wife tells me that one can get used to the smell, but I don’t believe her. She also loves the taste of Durian.
Durian is quite large, and can easily measure up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide, and can weigh up to 7 lbs. Durians have a “spikey” exterior, but the points on the spikes are not real sharp and not painful to pick up. The Durian is actually native to countries south of Thailand, like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, but Thais have adopted this fruit in a big way. They now grow so much Durian in Thailand that it is one of largest exporters of the fruit. You can probably find Durian in Western Cities in Chinese or Asian markets.
In Thailand, Durian is eaten fresh with sweet sticky rice as a desert. Durian seeds are about the size of chestnuts and are also eaten fried, boiled and roasted. They even make Durian Chips, which are similar to Potato Chips and have fortunately lost their “fragrance” in the process.
Warning Sign on Singapore Metro
It is kind of big joke for Thais to expose their new Western friends to the experience of Durian, so new expats should prepare themselves for this event some time while they are here.There are actually Westerners that have spent many years in Asia that have grown accustomed to Durian, and suggest that it actually tastes good. I have not reached that level yet, despite many efforts by my wife (and I don’t expect to). I am resisting. With so many fruit alternatives available in Northern Thailand, I find the sweeter fruits more to my liking. But I encourage all to give it a try. It is a unique experience.
Durian: The Movie….
This book is visually stunning, with large appealing photographs of each dish, and with similarly beautiful photos of the countryside, divided up by region between the chapters of different foods. The recipes themselves are very easy to follow, and even those that have many ingredients usually only require a couple steps. Some require ingredients that you can only find in Asian food stores (like galangal) but even things like fish sauce and coconut milk are becoming more available in other supermarkets; and many recipes require nothing more exotic than fresh ingredients and soy sauce.
The Annoying Orange Meets The Tough Durian:
See Also: Strange Facts about the Banana