King of fruit
July 5, 2019 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Dudes, dudettes, and those of non-binary status, I'm 15 seconds in and I'm already horrified at the culturally illiterate method of cutting that durian open ("... Did... Did they just sliced straight through the fruit seeds???"). Before filming that YouTube video, surely they could also search for the many vids on how to cut a durian open. Here, I'm even using one starring a white man.

Second question, is this Thai or Malaysian/Indonesian durian? Thais like theirs a little less ripe, so it isn't as creamy or sweet yet.
posted by cendawanita at 6:40 AM on July 5, 2019 [23 favorites]

Oh... Judging from that crunchy snap, they're eating Thai durian ... Or at least something still raw. My sympathies...

(Yeah, crunchyish durian is not a thing here either.)

The most upsetting thing is not the usual stunt of watching lol foreigners eating lol durian. It's still having to watch lol foreigners handling badly sliced open durian. Yikes.
posted by cendawanita at 6:51 AM on July 5, 2019 [15 favorites]

IME, the smell is worse than the taste.
posted by gnutron at 7:05 AM on July 5, 2019

Please don't let videos like this colour your perception of durians! If you actually come to Malaysia (or Singapore) and try some of the sweet goodness that is the mao shan wang / "musang king" varietal, I bet your reaction would be different!

Try the other varietals too, they all taste different.
posted by theony at 7:05 AM on July 5, 2019 [10 favorites]

What colored my perception of durians during my time in Singapore was the "no durian" signs posted all over the MRT.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:07 AM on July 5, 2019 [14 favorites]

One of the best ways to enjoy durian is in ice cream. The creamy, custardy durian flavor works really well that way.

It's also a way to get a starter sample to see if you like it, before investing in a larger portion.
posted by gimonca at 7:09 AM on July 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

It's not for everyone, but the taste can be acquired. I didn't like them as a kid, but will definitely partake as an adult.

Had some great durian during my last trip to Penang in February. Had to dash through the apartment to deposit it on the balcony before eating it outside, though - the smell has a way of... lingering...
posted by dazed_one at 7:11 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

My local dim sum place (in Connecticut) has durian croissants. I love them and insist on ordering them when I'm there. My wife, on the other hand, requests that I and anyone else present eat them quickly, since even the smell of the durian is offensive to her.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:12 AM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

One of the best ways to enjoy durian is in ice cream.

Polly Ann Ice Cream in San Francisco has Durian Ice Cream. I only had the guts to have a taste. Smelled like death, tasted kind of fruity.
posted by dfm500 at 7:20 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconded for durian ice-cream, but tbh I'm more partial to the local ice-cream, the ais krim potong kind, because the base is not dairy but coconut cream/milk. It goes extremely well with durian. Try and see if you can find any.
posted by cendawanita at 7:29 AM on July 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

I can't wait for neural nets to just begin producing these ' X try Y for the first time' videos en masse.
posted by Damienmce at 8:09 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I used to use durian (OK, I'm a cheapskate Philistine: frozen/thawed durian) for an experiment in my Aesthetics class. A good stimulus for a discussion about taste--and culture. Unlike those open-minded durian appreciators who've piped up so far, very few of us got as far as tasting it. Does it really taste better than it smells? Just barely. I would describe it as similar to rotten garlicky mango, but, then, I was not raised to appreciate it as a delicacy.
posted by kozad at 8:12 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

There are wild durian trees where I work, and when the Durio are fruiting, we find the orangutans by literally following our noses to the durian trees, and then we sit and wait for the orangs to knock a few fruits out of the trees and then we sit and eat durian and they sit and eat durian and everyone is happy.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2019 [92 favorites]

kozad: I used to use durian (OK, I'm a cheapskate Philistine: frozen/thawed durian) for an experiment in my Aesthetics class. A good stimulus for a discussion about taste--and culture.

Do you like durian? Do you come from a culture that does? Did you have anyone in your classes who liked durian, or came from a culture that does?

If not, it seems like you're already setting up durian to be offensive, with the notion that "someone, somewhere likes this awful thing." It may be a moot point now, because it sounds like something you're not doing any more, but I think it would be more interesting to take a dish that you or someone in your class knows and likes, but isn't widely appreciated or understood. For example, an Afghani friend of mine made an eggplant dish for friends in college. One of our friends looked at it and said "vomitous," letting his reaction to the appearance shade his perception of the food. Yes, it was a mushy dish, with a murky brown/purple color, but it was delicious.

I'm not attacking you or your choice, but pushing you (and others) to think about how "exotic" food (and more broadly, culture) is treated and presented. Without appropriate context or understanding, such "challenging" experiences, like this video, seemed set up to fail.

I can't wait for neural nets to just begin producing these ' X try Y for the first time' videos en masse.

You don't have to wait for automation, people are doing it already. Buzzfeed is one I've seen post a TON of these type of videos, and I'm sure there are many others making this "genre" of video.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2019 [29 favorites]

Plus, the longer in transit a durian needs to be, the more the smell Vs taste payoff doesn't work out, because it's not just the taste, it's also the texture and it's really hard to communicate the creamy sweet umami texture of fresh ripe durians. But the sulfur notes hang about strongly that's why you don't eat it or have it around in a closed-in area like a train. Anyway, sorry for not having the chance to have a good one, but it's okay, better luck next time.

On the subject of the name, durian, which is basically Malay for 'the thorny one', the name has been loaned to regional neighbours with their own attendant myths like a pretty cute Vietnamese love story or this incredibly poetic Mandarin reading of the homonyms
posted by cendawanita at 8:40 AM on July 5, 2019 [10 favorites]

I think it would be more interesting to take a dish that you or someone in your class knows and likes, but isn't widely appreciated or understood.

My dad, a true blue southeast asian malay, who grew up in the boondocks and poor ie never directly encountering European tastes before adulthood, once got sent to a 3 month secondment in Rome. He suffered those months with what he'd later described as terrible food, because all he could ever get was pasta and dairy products and he didn't, absolutely didn't get cheese. He found it queasy and stinky.
posted by cendawanita at 8:43 AM on July 5, 2019 [31 favorites]

A final thought -- durian isn't for everyone. But then the same thing can be said for cilantro. Or asparagus. Or brussles sprouts. I'm not saying that a better presentation of ripe fruit would win over everyone, but it'd be a much better place to start the discussion of tastes and culture.

cendawanita, or anyone else -- do you know if cultivars are being bread to reduce some of the smell? I was wondering how much durian has changed since first encountered by people.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:44 AM on July 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Growing up in Shanghai, I too heard many scary things about durian. But when I first tasted it in my late twenties, I took to it right away! Such complex flavor! To me it almost tastes like creamy coffee. Our local Asian supermarket stocks frozen durian meat, and it's a treat for when Mr. Foe is out of town -- for whenever it's defrosting in the fridge, he would seriously suspect a gas leak in the house.
My mother-in-law once stood at our door, and wondered with a frown if I have maybe left the gas stove on just a tiny bit. Sure enough, that was a durian day too.
posted by em at 8:49 AM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

I heard Thais are devoting r&d money for not just less strongly smelling durians but also non-thorny kinds. But no such thing on our end, it's go big or go home. That, and China as a market has woken up to durian and we're having enough trouble from that demand, which is now spiking local prices as well as driving out indigenous people from their land who if not for them, we wouldn't have known to eat this!

So upon careful consideration, yes, please continue disliking the durian *hoards my durians*
posted by cendawanita at 9:00 AM on July 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

As someone who likes funky, stinky, fermented, vinegary, and spicy things, I've never found durian any more objectionable than a ripe blue cheese, or the more rotten fish sauces.

Now ginkgo fruit, that'll rise the old gorge. The nut is pretty good, but I've never had the remotest urge to try it fresh.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:04 AM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Does durian ice cream have the smell?
posted by Selena777 at 9:28 AM on July 5, 2019

Gas leak smell is exactly how I remember it. When I ate it in creamy tarts, the smell sort of got lodged in my sinuses and I never did taste anything under it. Then again I was a lot younger and maybe less willing to work at figuring out the taste.

I remember swiping a sexy adult book from my mom with ladies stranded on an island or something, and durian is described as smelling like “a woman’s private parts” in what hindsight now tells me was probably another attempt to sex up that particular scene. That statement confused the bejesus out of me for years.
posted by PussKillian at 9:33 AM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Does durian ice cream have the smell?

It's not particularly noticeable because it's cold. But the other manufactured stuff tend to have the sulfur note hanging much more strongly, or at least the early kinds. I don't know about new tech, because I avoided those.

Anyone looking to level up, should look for fermented durian paste, locally known as tempoyak. Tbh i find the smell less strong?? But then I would inhale gobs of that stuff (it goes well as a dip so have it with rice and raw greens or grilled meats/seafood)
posted by cendawanita at 9:38 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

A friend described the taste as eating ice cream in a bus station bathroom. (But I kinda like it.)
posted by sjswitzer at 9:51 AM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I grew up reading about durian and was so excited to have some one day. I found some durian chips at a market once and was so excited to try it, only to gag almost immediately. I was so disappointed. I've kept my eye open but haven't found another opportunity in middle-of-nowhere US. The ice cream sounds intriguing.
posted by lilac girl at 9:58 AM on July 5, 2019

My experience with durian ice cream was very belchy. I don't know if it was made from a less palatable variety or what, but it tasted good going down and I enjoyed hours of durian burps afterwards.
posted by peeedro at 10:10 AM on July 5, 2019

As someone who likes funky, stinky, fermented, vinegary, and spicy things, I've never found durian any more objectionable than a ripe blue cheese, or the more rotten fish sauces.


Each food culture has its acquired tastes and if you belong to several food cultures you get exposed to so many different smells and flavors that it trains your appreciation for new experiences. Like the surströmming and durian khallepache I will be experimenting with.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:19 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just as comparison, here's this korean channel, where they brought their colleague to taste durian in Malaysia (backstory: they did a durian challenge but she was working in Spain so flew down to London, and got some from Chinatown, and didn't like it).
posted by cendawanita at 10:36 AM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Did... Did they just sliced straight through the fruit seeds???

My local supermarket (in Massachusetts USA) has, for some reason, decided to start selling durian in the produce section. It really doesn't belong in that market in that neighborhood (the market's main draw is its unusually large kosher section.) I don't think anyone ever buys durian there.

And the way they've packaged it is to cut it crosswise into circles, through the seeds, and shrink-wrap those slices. So if you were to buy one, you'd get a lot of rind, some fragments of seeds, and a little of the edible yellow stuff (now exposed to air and no longer fresh.) In other words, they did everything they could to ruin durian in a neighborhood that has probably never before seen a durian.

It's a market that just doesn't have a clue about a lot of things. "We could upgrade to selling onions that aren't all squishy and rotten... or we can sell mutilated durians!"

My favorite thing about that market is that they don't know where to put the pepperoni, and it moves to a different random location every week -- one time I found the packets of pepperoni clipped to a pillar in the middle of the kosher section. I expect that next time I go there, the pepperoni will be hidden under the pile of unsold durian slices.
posted by Kibo at 10:42 AM on July 5, 2019 [23 favorites]

Ha, ha, ha, or something!

I fiinally bought an 18 pounder. I read up on it a little before cutting into it. If I had read first, I might have balked at the purchase. Mine must have been at a perfect pick time, no smell, taste like juicy fruit gum. The flowers the , "fruit" are kind of cellophaney in texture.I prepared the seeds as well. They were a nice snack. I have read the recipe suggestion for vegan pulled pork from the flowers. There is just not a lot of protein in this thing, it seemed like, even in the seeds. I could see grinding the cooked and peeled seeds into a sauce with sweet meyer lemon paste, and then working out some baked dish with sliced flowers.

Not for people with latex allergy.
posted by Oyéah at 11:06 AM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’ve had durian in Padang (Sumatra Barat) and rather liked it. Of the Aussies, Euros, and USians in the group, it was about 75% pro. I prefer the local mangosteen and rambutan though.
posted by sudogeek at 11:13 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

By the way, I've done my part to help the spread of durian around the world. There's a certain popular piece of free software that contains an icon representing a desktop computer, and it looks similar to an iMac, except that for legal reasons it doesn't have the little apple logo on it. If you look very, very closely, I substituted a tiny durian. At the scale of the icon, it's just a tiny brown dot.

So, I snuck a micro-durian into thousands of people's lives. My secret durian might be on your screen right now! EVERYBODY PANIC!

See the world's most dot-like durian:

For proof I'm not making this up, here's my master artwork before it was reduced to icon size:

The iDur was Steve Jobs's biggest failure. (It didn't even come in different colors, but it was the first scratch-and-sniff computer.)
posted by Kibo at 11:22 AM on July 5, 2019 [25 favorites]

Oyéah, from your description, are you sure you didn't get a jackfruit? That's also usually the fruit where vegan pulled pork is made out of.
posted by cendawanita at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

Oyéah for a fruit-based vegan cooking, you might be interested in exploring Jackfruit; it's got some body to its texture and has about 3g of protein/ cup.

I've always loved durian - especially fresh. My only objection is the potential of getting brained by falling fruit. About 6 people die every year.

This is probably completely all wrong, but I like to dissect my durian and put the fruit lobes in ice water (to attenuate the odour), and eat from the bowl.
posted by porpoise at 11:30 AM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Our work got evacuated once due to toxic odors that no one knew what the smell was or where it came from. (We work in a lab that handles a lot of chemicals). Someone had opened a durian cookie and left it on their desk.
posted by gryphonlover at 12:02 PM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

Our work got evacuated once due to toxic odors

"Hey, the rules only said no popcorn or fish in the microwave! It should be fine for me to nuke by durian, Brussels sprout, asafetida, and fava bean casserole!" [10:00] [09:59] [09:58] [09:57]

(ten minutes later, the city has paved over the spot where the building used to be, though there's still a polka-dotted cloud hovering over the area)
posted by Kibo at 12:17 PM on July 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

Finally an occasion to share my durian story. As told to me by the late and great Bob Halliday, while we were in Bangkok, sharing one of the best durians I ever had.
At some point in time during the Vietnam War, Pat Boone was visiting the troops. He travelled through Bangkok and on his stop over he walked out the hotel, to discover a durian stand. He tasted a piece, fell in love, ordered a bag full of durian, went back to the hotel and completely porked out. All the durian was gone. In the afternoon he was supposed to get his flight, but he was all cramped up in his room. Sometimes he made it to the toilet, sometimes he didn't. He was in no state to even walk.
The concert was cancelled and Pat Boone was quietly ushered back home after spending two days in the hospital.
When we finished the durian, Bob took me to "the greatest restaurant in the world" to eat stir fried banana flowers. Damn, I miss Bob and his crazy fruit stories.
posted by ouke at 12:42 PM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

Mmmm durian. I had somehow never heard of it before I tried it a few years ago, and I instantly liked it. A number of other people tried it that same day, and they all hated it. I have no idea why, in either direction.

It doesn’t even smell particularly bad to me. I’ve long suspected I taste things slightly differently than most people.
posted by mantecol at 12:43 PM on July 5, 2019

Saw the title of this post and mentally grimaced, expecting it to be another "Americans try Weird Exotic Thing from Asia and make Funny Comments" video.
and it was. (I don't know; what was the point of posting this?)

I actually was just browsing through a bunch of photos of friends eating durians happily and normally, on my facebook feed, before I saw this post. From adults to toddlers, eating durians together as a communal family thing. Because that's what it usually is, here.
I get that some Americans find the fruit weird/unpleasant, and everyone's entitled to their own individual personal reactions/opinions... but why put together a video of 100 people making snarky comments about a fruit that's normal in my part of the world? And why post a video like that here with no other framing?

so... the video itself just makes me cringe and.. makes me sad. But I really appreciate the comments here that attempt to balance out the video and fill in the blanks (thank you especially cendawanita and filthy light thief). so glad this thread is better than the video itself!

for those people that want to try a durian-flavored food before trying the actual fruit, I'd recommend durian custard puffs or something with durian cream. I'm personally not that keen on the texture of the fruit by itself (because its texture is like ice cream... and I like fruits that have more crisp / firmer textures) but durian flavor works well in creamy/custard-y food.
posted by aielen at 1:05 PM on July 5, 2019 [30 favorites]

Off-topic, is there a name for the New York City media "look," it seems sort of like post-hipster but the look has this certain "social media influencer Buzzfeed" sort of vibe. I guess to a degree I've seen it on the West Coast, but it seems mainly Eastern.
posted by geoff. at 1:10 PM on July 5, 2019

I'm not sure what effect I would've expected from watching a bunch of people try to explain what durian tastes like, but what I got was even less of an idea than I started with about what durian tastes like.
posted by sfenders at 1:14 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Years ago someone brought a durian into my workplace at the time. Someone encouraged them to open it and they did so. This was in another part of the building from me but the smell seemed to get around. It smelled to me like the stuff they use to odorize natural gas. I wasn't terribly bothered, but a number of people were seriously angry about it and serious warnings were issued not to do that again. My only regret was that I didn't get to try any of it.
posted by DarkForest at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2019

I love durian. When I visited Malaysia last year my hosts took me to a roadside stall with lots of different varieties and bought some of each. I ate so much I felt sick. (The stall owner called all his friends over to watch and take photos of the white lady having durian fun times.)
posted by lollusc at 1:55 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Now that jackfruit has been mentioned (like breaking hearts in a game of Hearts), I'll tell my jackfruit story.

I first tried jackfruit in pre-prepared, packaged form. I found it delicious but expensive. So, when I moved to a new neighborhood and saw whole jackfruit for sale during an exploratory walk, I had an impulse to buy one and worry about how to prepare it when I got home. (This is a somewhat larger commitment than buying your average piece of fruit; a jackfruit weighs 20 pounds.) While I was inspecting the fruit trying to commit, a clerk saw me and offered to cut me a piece from the side so I'd know it was ripe. That sealed the deal.

A few minutes later, I was toddling home with the spiky thing cradled in both arms. I passed another store with fruit displayed on the sidewalk but didn't stop to look. Half a block past the store, I heard a woman chasing me and yelling. She thought I'd stolen the fruit from her sidewalk stand! I didn't have a receipt; luckily, she accepted my explanation (a bit warily) after I told her the street intersection of the store where I'd bought the jackfruit and the exact price I'd paid. I soon discovered that there were like 5 shops in the area that all sell jackfruit, and I'd bought from the one farthest from my apartment.

Incidentally, cutting up a jackfruit proved to be rather arduous work, and 20 pounds of fruit (though it's probably more like 8 pounds after the inedible parts are discarded) was way too much. As the fruit ages, it develops a strong odor that I find offputting. So the pre-prepared, packaged stuff is probably worth the surcharge. Nevertheless, I continue to buy slabs cut from whole jackfruit when I see them, because it's the only way I know to get the seeds, which are delicious when cooked -- sort of like chestnuts. It's nice to get two totally different foods in one package!
posted by aws17576 at 2:58 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

kozad: Does it really taste better than it smells? Just barely. I would describe it as similar to rotten garlicky mango, but, then, I was not raised to appreciate it as a delicacy.

What? No. It tastes lovely and rich and sweet and creamy and custard-y and vaguely similar to banana. And no, I was not raised to appreciate it either, but I did not find it hard to do so when I tried it. Maybe the one you had was off?
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:20 PM on July 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have a vague, long-simmering set of associations with durian that I've gotten pretty uncomfortable with once I thought through the sort of baseless exoticism of them, and which I adopted pretty much entirely through running jokes on alt.religion.kibology when I was in college because I otherwise never had any exposure to the fruit. I've never had it, why do I want to commit to having Opinions about it, especially of the form "ew gross weird unfamiliar food" and all the cultural incuriosity at the heart of that? So at this point I've shifted it over to the something-I-should-try pile and try to quell those old reflexive jokes about it.

It's still very weird to me, in a good way, that Kibo is on MeFi. Hi Kibo.
posted by cortex at 3:28 PM on July 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Someone told me it's a little bit like a pawpaw, can anyone confirm or deny?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2019

Friend of mine had durian candy. It was just dried durian with sugar. It smelled disgusting to me, to the point that it smelled really off. My brain associated it with "do not eat," in the same way that rotten meat tells me "do not eat." But a completely different smell.

The go-to western parallel/equivalent of these sort of "exotic" things is bleu cheese. Which also smells very strong and "off" in its own way. But it smells good to a lot of westerners, to the point where they serve it in crappy salad bars and junk food, not just a 'foodie' thing to eat.

I'm glad the world is still big enough that there's still foods and experiences that do these things to people. It's not hard to avoid durian.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:57 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Someone told me it's a little bit like a pawpaw, can anyone confirm or deny?

I can understand why someone would say that. My reaction to both durian and pawpaw is my brain saying "Oh, it's like THIS and THAT... no that's not quite right, it's more like..." and on and on. They both have hints of flavors that you're familiar with from other foods in a new combination. But overall, durian is sweeter, has a richer, creamier texture, the sulfur compounds remind you of something savory like roasted garlic or vidalia onion, and they lack the tangy acidity you get from most fruits.
posted by peeedro at 4:31 PM on July 5, 2019

Man, I like the smell.
posted by lucidium at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2019

My son is 5 and enjoys eating blue cheese and natto. I don't think he's had durian before but I should give him some. His power will be to enjoy all foods that large groups of people think are stinky.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

So maybe it's because I have terrible sinuses, but I don't register the durian smell, or something. I've only been introduced to it during dim sum and I found it DELICIOUS. Sweet and chewy goodness. Like, I read all of the horror stories about durian and I just don't get it.
posted by TwoStride at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2019

I ate it in Cambodia on a tuk tuk having bought a whole one roadside and paid the vendor extra to cut it up for us. We had asked the driver to find us a durian next time we saw some by the road and if it was okay for us to eat it. He was very amused that the Indians wanted to eat it and warned us we might not like it.

It might be because I ate it in an open airish vehicle but I didn't smell anything foul at all. I just felt like it was a creamier less crsipy jackfruit. It gave my sister terrible heartburn and then nausea which only meant more for me.
posted by viramamunivar at 7:09 PM on July 5, 2019

I'm gonna go to the durian stand later today for lunch and I'm gonna slowly savour it and consider the flavour profile because I wouldn't say it's like pawpaw or papaya or mango, but it's definitely true that its taste is that tropical fruit taste.

In terms of texture, have you guys had custard apple or sugar apple? Similar texture but more seed to flesh ratio.
posted by cendawanita at 8:45 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love durian and hate how it's become cultural shorthand for "EW scary fruit". I hate strawberries but all I get when I say that is "how dare you". An ex even tried to say it's the same as homophobia (she meant it sincerely and it was just the tip of the iceberg of toxic abusive behaviour).
posted by divabat at 8:59 PM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

And I don't like pawpaw and wouldn't say it's the same at all. Maybe texture wise but that's it.
posted by divabat at 9:00 PM on July 5, 2019

Does durian taste like onion to anyone else, or is that just me?
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 9:18 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

In terms of texture, have you guys had custard apple or sugar apple? Similar texture but more seed to flesh ratio.

I find sweetsops/custard apples to taste wonderful, but I’ve never been a fan of the texture. I think I associate that level of mushiness with something rotten, but that is just how some fruits are supposed to be.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:33 PM on July 5, 2019

Jackfruit seed curry is AMAZING
posted by divabat at 12:53 AM on July 6, 2019

Posts that are essentially “let’s laugh at this allegedly gross foodstuff” don’t just make me angry, they make me sad. All I ever think is that somewhere a parent is lovingly feeding it to their child and how hurt they would be if they saw other people laughing and making gag faces. I live in the UK and I could easily come into a US Christmas food thread and make comments about some traditional foods that I personally might not enjoy (but express it in a hateful “really? eww!” way) but I wouldn’t because how fucking rude is that? Food is love, and foods and recipes are shared among families and communities with affection. Maybe bear that in mind before deciding if there’s a need to share people mocking something.
posted by billiebee at 3:25 AM on July 6, 2019 [19 favorites]

That legit reminded me of a cultural exchange programme once with Chinese chefs (from China) being brought to France to be introduced to cheese and how to cook it, and we're talking about chefs who are familiar with stinky tofu etc, and their general reaction having to try some (and that's before the blue cheese) was a uniform D: and >:(

But it's not like all Asian cultures are used to tofu either. AXN based out of Singapore used to produce The Amazing Race: Asia and the India contestants always have the hardest time with East Asian food challenges. (In the meantime, the Malaysians and Singaporeans regardless of race, would literally light up at a food challenge)
posted by cendawanita at 4:35 AM on July 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Also I kept my promise about having durian, I got a nice small musang king grade AA, and sat down with it for dinner. I don't taste garlic or onions because it's all 'durian' to me, but it's creamy and sweet, but bitter too and some astringent notes. It's complex and singular, and yeah, a lot of tropical fruits have that mushy texture so it's like having a semi-savoury sweet custard.
posted by cendawanita at 4:57 AM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’m craving mangosteens from my grandparents tree now.
posted by PussKillian at 7:27 AM on July 6, 2019

Oh man there's a durian thread and I only see it now? Like aielen, I am getting very tired of the whole "omg gross stinky fruit!" thing surrounding durians in Western media. The very first episode of Bizarre Foods had Andrew Zimmern happily eating through all kinds of things before finally being subdued by a durian (seriously?). One of my favourite things about Tony Bourdain was that he loved to eat durians. If you're used to them, durians actually do smell great and taste great. I've been smelling them all the time this month because they're in season and there's always somebody somewhere in my block eating them.

"So let me get this right, first you take the glandular secretions of a cow (which you like to drink cold, and find refreshing). Then you chemically curdle it? Then you take the solid parts from the curdling and cook and press it into some shape? Then you take that chunk of gross and you let it age? Or even rot? With mould you rub on or inject? And when sufficient time passes, you enjoy it? And sometimes you melt it? And you think it's better if it smells bad? And your white friends think the stuff I eat is gross."

You're missing the part where the thing used to curdle the milk is taken from the stomach of the baby cows. Yes, cheese smells like baby vomit because it literally is baby cow puke.
posted by destrius at 8:15 AM on July 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have never tried durian, but I like cherimoya (a kind of custard apple, I think). It’s a little daunting, a bit like peeling an alligator and picking out seeds like pieces of shale, but the flesh is like custard. I agree that “this food is gross,” is usually just ignorant and sad. I mean, I don’t know why anyone would make mashed potatoes when there is squash in the world, but I don’t make videos about it…. There’s a ton of neat experiences in Asian groceries (I no longer remember the brand, but there was a not-too-sweet basil seed drink that took some getting used to, texture-wise, but was super-refreshing on a hot Austin afternoon (I.e. all of them).
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:19 AM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

GenjiandProust: I mean, I don’t know why anyone would make mashed potatoes when there is squash in the world

In some countries, potatoes are a whole lot more common than squash. I live in one such a country and squash/pumpkins (I always forget the difference, if there is one) are pretty exotic here. Potatoes however are a staple food.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2019

In some countries, potatoes are a whole lot more common than squash.

But do they mash them? There are a lot of ways to cook potatoes which are delicious; mashing them is just bizarre (to me).
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:37 AM on July 6, 2019

We do mash them, and then we usually mix other vegetables in, such as kale, sauerkraut or carrots. It's a hearty wintery dish. Ours is not a refined kitchen...
Mashed potatoes are sometimes eaten as they are, as well, but I don't really care for them either; it's such a bland food.

Mind you, we also eat potatoes whole. Boiled and served with gravy, or fried, or made into fries. Such are the ways of my people.

I'm very happy that cuisines from other countries have brought us some new and exciting options.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:44 AM on July 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sorry for the potato derail; please tell me tales of fruits I have yet to encounter.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2019

no smell, taste like juicy fruit gum.

that's definitely jackfruit.

Durian is brown spiky on the outside flabby creamy yellow insanely delicious insanely stank yum; jackfruit is green nubby on the outside slick, firm, deeper yellow fruitlobes with shiny brown seeds, and the fruit is embedded, sometimes, in incredibly sticky, copious latex. We got one at a store and went next door to the vietnamese restaurant and after lunch, we cut the jackfruit open, whereupon we were immediately glued to it, to each other, to the furniture. The servers howled at us laughing and then brought a little dish of vegetable oil that allowed us to eat it, clean up the mess we'd made, de-adhere ourselves, leave the restaurant, and continue our lives. Yes: it tastes exactly like juicyfruit gum. Durian is amazing, indescribable, but it is nothing like juicyfruit gum.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

I most associate its smell with shopping at the supermarkets in Chinatown, rather than seeing it at home, I think. It was rarely bought and usually for special occasions, when there were enough people to eat it.

To me, there's something savoury about the taste -- almost like tasting meat, but not quite. Without thinking on it too much, I like the taste. But in spite of that, I can't have too much of it because I eventually start feeling a little ill.

Though, speaking of nattou... It's not the same thing, but one thing I tend to miss is eating rice with processed bean curd (of the non-spicy variety).

It isn't ice cream, but I've had durian prepared as a part of a confection.
posted by redrawturtle at 10:52 PM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Aw man, I love durian and I am sad that it’s such a Thing to hate on it sort of reflexively (I feel the same way about how people react to spiders, actually).

Durian is awesome and soft and creamy custardy—without being actual dairy, which is very important to my lactose intolerant self.

Y’all inspired me to drag my box of monthong durian out of the freezer and defrost it. Can’t wait to eat it all.

In the US, you should be able to buy frozen durian at H-Mart. Unlike the video (where at one point, I heard a crunch which is so so wrong to me), the frozen durian should be nice and ripe.

Even more geographically specifically, if you’re in Houston then Huynh makes a great durian smoothie. And fabulous bún xào chay.

As for the smell, well. I think durian smells sweet and mild so I’m obviously not the person who’s going to complain about it. The time we were driving in Kanchanaburi in August in one of those fancy rented passenger vans and left our ripe durian in the van for six hours? It smelled a little more strongly of sweet fruit to me—or stank to high heaven if you were everyone else in the van. Man, my (Thai) best friend was so pissed that I wasn’t choking on the smell like she was. Good times.
posted by librarylis at 7:08 PM on July 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Decades ago, he stole a tree branch. Now he is the Durian King (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2019; link if you're paywalled)
Long before he was the Durian King, Tan Eow Chong was canvassing rural Malaysia for plants he could farm when he stumbled on a roadside stand selling a curiously golden-fleshed variety of the fruit.

The seller, an elderly woman, urged Tan to have a taste, boasting that her durians were the same color as the local sultan’s palace.

Tan took one bite and was transfixed. Apart from the notorious aroma, which is often compared to rotting meat, it was nothing like the fibrous durians with large pits that he grew at home 200 miles away on Penang Island. This one was meatier, creamier and bittersweet — everything a durian connoisseur would want.

“The flesh melted in my mouth,” said Tan, who decided then that he had to grow the durian himself.

The fruit came from a nearby orchard. Tan asked whether he could have a branch to graft onto one of his trees, but the woman shooed away the idea. So that evening he returned with a villager armed with a rifle. At Tan’s instructions, and for pay, the man pruned a footlong branch with a well-placed shot.

Thirty-five years after his heist, Tan is reaping the rewards.
What defines durian fruit, however, is its overpowering sulfuric scent, which has led to bans from public transportation and the occasional evacuation of buildings. The odor is strong enough to penetrate the fruit’s thick shell. When the shell is cracked open, the scent can buckle a neophyte’s knees. But for the fruit’s admirers, the stench is part of the allure.

“If it doesn’t stink, it’s not durian,” Tan said.
“The Musang King is my favorite,” said Teh Bin Tean, a Singaporean researcher who has studied the durian genome. “Don’t try it first because the rest is all downhill.”
It's a really good article, albeit with the usual "most people find this fruit to be very stinky" paragraph.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:04 AM on July 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Annnnd that's the lack of respect that's led to indigenous peoples losing their land thanks to mass durian cultivation. I'm not even going to get into the domestic cultural appropriation and settler colonialism that took place.

The old (ie kampung/rural and therefore either native indigenous or native Malay) name for musang king is durian kunyit which is a fairly humble name in comparison. It just means tumeric durian, for the colour. Which is yes, the royal saffron yellow shade.

Which is why, I low-key dislike that varietal even if it is delicious There are so many kinds out there! But I'm also spoiled. I do have relatives with their own orchards and now that it's in season, I can get a decent durian fruit or two.
posted by cendawanita at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

(And bollocks, 'musang' doesn't mean mountain cat. It's a local civet cat. Man, the exoticism of that article is rubbing me the wrong way)
posted by cendawanita at 12:14 PM on July 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Someone told me it's a little bit like a pawpaw

Sure, in the sense that snake is like chicken, in that it's more like chicken than, say, pork.

I haven't eaten a ton of durian or pawpaws, but other than a slight textural simililarity I don't find the flavor particularly similar.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:49 PM on July 9, 2019

cendawanita: They probably call it mountain cat because the Chinese transliteration of "musang king" is "猫山王" (mao shan wang), which literally means cat mountain king. I'll admit that I had no idea the original name was from the Malay word for civet cat, since here in Singapore almost all the durian sellers are Chinese and speak in Chinese.

I do quite like musang king; it was one of my favourites before it became so wildly popular. Nowadays though it's everywhere and starting to get boring, so I'm trying other varieties instead.
posted by destrius at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2019

That's fair for ppl like us, but maybe that writer should talk to the ppl this businessman stole the varietal from then, is my first thought. On the other hand, I googled to see if this was a case of backformation (since it makes no real sense in Malay either, unlike the original name for it Raja Kunyit because the flesh is as yellow as tumeric/kunyit), according to this article:

According to Serdang Agriculture Department Horticulture Division assistant director Mohd Auzaie Koma Rudin, these were among the characteristics of the D197 durian, which was registered under the Agriculture Department in 1993.

Among the local Chinese, he said Musang King is commonly known as Mao Shan Wang or Cat Mountain King, which refers to the durian flesh’s resemblance to a sleeping cat.

“The name was widely used until the word Mao Shan was changed to Musang and Wang was changed to King, hence the origin of Musang King,” Mohd Auzaie said, adding that this variety is mostly found in Raub, Pahang.

The article goes on a bit about where this variant is from, which is Kelantan, and on that note, a tiny bit of good news for the Temiar people there who won their legal case against one of these big plantations encroaching on their land, all for the sake of musang king, and chasing the China market.
posted by cendawanita at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

to go back to the spirit of the video of this FPP, yt recommended me this video of Japanese couple living in Hong Kong trying to look for good durians because they missed it (and a follow up video), just to get into how hard it is to judge durians once you miss that window for freshness, when all you have are the exported ones.
posted by cendawanita at 7:06 AM on July 21, 2019

How to choose a durian
posted by cendawanita at 7:09 AM on July 25, 2019

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