I seriously doubt there is a fruit capable of eliciting stronger reactions than the durian. The strange and pungent fruit is notoriously divisive; having just as many devoted fans as adamant haters. The spiky fruit has quite the reputation for its strong, off-putting oder and thorny exterior and most people would never think to try and actually eat one. But those brave enough to bear the sulfurous smell find the durian's taste to be addictive and its polarizing effect becomes part of the fruit’s appeal. So what is it about the durian’s culinary properties that keeps enthusiasts coming back despite its bizarrely thorny outside and foul odor?
There are hundreds of types of durian that come in a range of sizes and in several shades of burnished green, gold, yellow and even rosy red. Each variety has its own unique flavor also, from desert-like chocolate and creme brulee to savory, sulfurous flavors like egg or onion. The fruit's composition is also very unique. Its very fatty like an avocado, but has a much higher sugar content comparable to a banana. All of these unique qualities converge into a singular sensory experience like no other that some even describe as sensual. Durian flesh has a creamy texture— thanks to its high percentage of fat— comparable to a frosting. And due to the gathering interest into the durian’s culinary potential, scientists are investigating the health benefits of the fruit which include mono- and poly- unsaturated fatty acids and a few vitamins and minerals.
But regardless, durian growth, trade, and consumption is very regulated and even banned in some countries. So those looking to get in on the durian fandom should definitely make travel plans to Thailand, the prime durian destination dream for those seeking the exotic fruit. Over 200 varieties grow in Thailand, and this nation produces more than any other. And even though the seasons are unpredictable, the fruit can be found year round if you know where to look. In central and eastern Thailand durians are ripe from March to June while in southern regions they grow year long.
In Nakhon Nayok, there is an organic durian farm were durian seekers can find over fifty species preserved by one dedicated farmer. And in the Chantaburi province you can check out the annual World Durian Festival!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.