Throughout Asia they are known as the “king of fruits” with the annual durian season in each country eagerly awaited by their aficionados.
However, while many can’t wait for their annual “fix”, for others the creamy custard-like texture, and pungent odour is something to be avoided at all costs. In fact, in many Southeast Asian countries the spike covered, football-size fruit is prohibited on public transport and in hotels because of the lingering scent they leave behind.
Although not indigenous, Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of durian, followed by Malaysia and Indonesia, with China being the largest market.
Readily acknowledged by many as being an “acquired taste”, a study of the fruit’s description in Wikipedia show numerous attempts at describing the texture, flavour, and odour of durian. Richard Sterling, a travel, food, and lifestyle journalist, is said to have described the odour as “pig-excrement, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”.
In 2019 scientists at the Technical University of Munich came up with a better answer. The pungent durian odour, they said, was due to ethanethiol — a chemical that is intentionally added to butane and propane to impart an easily noticed smell to these normally odourless fuels — produced by the plant. How the plant produced the compound they didn’t know.
In the video above eight young American children are introduced to durian, with their reactions recorded for posterity. We don’t want to give any of the highlights away, though it should be noted that the fruit is not presented in the normal manner that it is eaten in Southeast Asia, and it is not known whether the fruit used was fully ripe.
Despite this the video clip makes for some entertaining viewing, as well as perhaps some new entries for Wikipedia on the taste, texture, and odour of durian.
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