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Eternal Question number 65. What does a durian fruit taste like? 26, April 2007

Posted by babychaos in General Wittering, Life and living, Light Fluff, Play.
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While in Bali, I kept a holiday diary, it lasted one day. Cue Michael Jackson from his and Paul McCartney’s nadir “The Girl is Mine” where Michael says – “I’m sorry, I’m a lover not a fighter” or in my case, “I’m sorry I’m a starter not a finisher.”*  The world is literally littered with the projects which I’ve started. Oh dear, where was I? Yes, my holiday “diary”. Here it is.

*My bid for the laboured joke of the year award.


Today I experienced my first taste of Tamarillo and Durian fruit. Tamarillo looks like passion fruit which should be orange and smooth not purple and wrinkly and tastes pretty similar. Durian. Hmmm…

Ok, imagine something that looks like an enormous two lobed conker – a kind of conker hybrid, perhaps – the spikes aren’t sharp or pointy enough for it to be a spiky conker but they’re too big for it to be a smooth one. Imagine the skin of a lychee but with a but more er… texture.

Here it is – durian1.jpg

Durian fruit are famous for smelling grim and tasting great. What durian does not share with other great tasting items like Amis De Chambertain, Epoisse, Pont l’Eveque, Stinking Bishop, Munster or Goat is that it’s not savoury and it’s not a cheese which most of the other great tasting vile smelling things, apart from goat that is, tend to be.

So, after seeing them for sale at the side of the road we mentioned we’d like to try one and our kind guide Made (pronounced Maddy) negotiated the purchase for us. I suspect this was after seeing me buy some cashews in the market which approximated to gold dust in value per gramme. Put me in a country where the currency is in hundreds of thousands and I get completely confused – I thought 100,000 was a bargain, actually, 10,000 would have been a bargain, 100,000 was well… not. Hey ho… I digress, where was I? Oh yes… Durian.

So while I watched the negotiations, I couldn’t help noticing that some of the durian on offer were looking a bit rank, mouldy in parts with fruit flies buzzing around them. I suspect Durian may be a bit like Stilton, some people like stilton rank and salty and vile, others – me, for example – enjoy our stilton young. Made chose a durian which was not mouldy or flyblown in other words, I suspect he was kindly (and sensibly) protecting our sensitive western palattes from the onslaught, plumping for young and mild rather than old and rank – thank you Made!

So nostrils twitching, we watch as the lady prizes it open. The smell hits us immediately but it is not what I expected at all, not nearly as bad – I had assumed “rank” would equal “pooh” but this was not the case – although it is, undoubtedly, grim.

Thank your lucky stars the world wide web is odourosly mute.


How to describe it. Well if you grew up in Britain in the 1970s and 80s describing the smell is of durian is easy it’s gas. Durian smells of British Gas but natural gas has its smell added – did British Gas use eau de durian perhaps? Who knows… Except of course that it isn’t just gas and anyway, not everyone understands what 1970s and 80s British Gas smells like.

Imagine onions without the tears or if you’ve ever bought fresh leeks and then realised, stuck in the confined space of the bus on the way home, how powerfully leeks can smell you are some way there. It isn’t strictly leek though, there is something sulphuric too.

So, in summary, leeks, sulphur oh yes and not forgetting a dash – a really tiny hint, squashed on the road 10 miles away levels of tiny – of the nicer bits of skunk with additional sugary undertones. Not a lovely smell but not completely off putting… Inside it’s divided into segments, much like the inside of a horse chestnut but imagine the conkers inside have a layer of fruity covering over them rather than being au naturel.

At first glance it’s a greenish white sausage-shaped chunk, unpleasantly reminiscent of the innards of something only the wrong colouring for that. Although Mr BC swears it’s actually spot on, I am not so sure but then, he’s seen tripe close up and I haven’t. It certainly brings to mind the phrase “internal organs” although which one, where and in what kind of animal I can’t say for sure. It looks vaguely alien – the sort of thing you might expect to dig out of a giant space bug or which would feature as a side order on the menu in Mos Eisley Cantina.

The pieces don’t give the impression of being easy to separate but it turns out they are and that picking the seeds out one by one is pretty straightforward.


The texture is bizarre, it reminded me of panacotta in colour and gloopyness but the consistency is wrong for panacotta. Panacotta is too elastic. Likewise, flower and water paste.

You know when weightlifters rub their hands in that white chalk before attempting a lift, well durian flesh is rather how I imagine the gunk that’s left behind on the bar would look after the weightlifter has finished. Sort of like thick flower and water paste only with no elasticity at all. It sticks to your hands, too, in a way that I can only describe as disturbing. The closest I can get to describing it accurately is matt custard.

When it comes to taste, matt custard is a pretty good description, too. Well, for me at any rate. It has those soft, rounded taste, tones although there is no doubt it’s a fruit but the fruitiness is more the banana end of the fruit acidity and general fruityness spectrum rather than say, the passionfruit end. Not that it tastes remotely like banana but then nothing I’ve ever eaten does taste remotely like bannana except for other bananas. Durian, same deal. It’s got the banana-y non acidic fruit deal going on but it tastes like Durian and should imagine that if I were to search for something which tastes like the durian I ate today chances are the only thing which would measure up would be another durian.

So… Did I like it? Hmm… not sure about that one. At the time I ate it, yes, for pretty much the same reasons I like custard, sweet, gloopy, not exactly runny consistency. In fact, at the time I gave it a 7 out of 10 although I was tempted to bump up its score because it deserved bonus points for sheer weirdness.

Do I like it now?

Well, after 2 hours in a car with the other half I’m not too sure. I don’t recommend post durian burps either, ack they were gopping all smell like raw onion burps are only raw durian smell is much nastier than raw onion. Then again, it could simply have been the all pervading pong from the uneaten half of the durian leeching through the plastic bag it was sitting in behind me. Post durian pooh* I am yet to enjoy but I suspect it will be grim.

So would I eat it again? Um… I think so, although I wouldn’t really know until somebody served one up to me. Would I recommend it? Of course, nobody should pass up the chance to experience something that bizarre. If you are ever offered one you should definitely eat it… if you can. Mr BC thought it was vile but me and Made, we ate half of it.

*With hindsight, I can confirm it wasn’t too bad, unlike say… roast onions or chile, durian has no negative colonic effects, nasal or otherwise.



1. Kat - 26, April 2007

Durian is too mushy for me to love. I do love jakfruit and rambutan, though. And lanzones and pomelo. I miss fresh tropical fruit.

2. Mrs. Nicklebee - 26, April 2007

Well that was interesting and educational. For being a one day deal, your holiday diary is quite informative! 😀

You have a great way of describing British Gas. I can smell it, stuffy nose and all! I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’m curious to try a durian. I don’t think I’ve ever had fruit that stinks but tastes okay.

It does look a little bit alien-visceral, doesn’t it.

3. babychaos - 26, April 2007

Kat I’m impressed and jealous that you’ve managed to try all of this stuff, Mrs N, always glad to be educational! It is a strange smell, vile and yet appealing!



4. Anne - 26, April 2007

Wow, Welcome back!! Awesome that you got to try something as strange as durian…and I will definitley keep that in mind, if I should ever come across one while traveling to other countries – whether you liked it or not, you get a gold star for willingness to try! 🙂

Take care!

5. lea alissa - 27, April 2007

I love durian! I get them from Davao City (Southern tip of the Philippines) and my friend sends them to me peeled and frozen via air freight.

I’m glad you like it. Most people don’t. But yeah, the burping is really a problem. And if you eat it with your hand, you have to rub your fingers in it to get rid of the smell. (yes, I know this does not make sense, but it works). Hmm..you can freeze it for up to two months and it does not really change much. Oh, and we have Durian ice cream that closes in on that flavor but does not give you the burp factor.

Oh, and Durian has very high uric acid content.

6. babychaos - 27, April 2007

Anne, thank you, I like to think of myself as a gastronomic adventurer! Lea Alissa, you are seriously a hard core Durian fan, I can imagine the ice cream is good! All that uric acid, too much Durian can cause gout! There’s something you don’t find out every day!



7. mrsmetaphor - 28, April 2007

All I can think as I read this is
1) gross
2) duran duran…
and I’m hungry like the wolf…

glad you are back!

8. Brian - 2, May 2007

I only every tried a candied version of Durian when I was in Malaysia, it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t exactly avoid it, but it never really was an option because
1.) My time in Malaysia was boozy (I was drinking with Kiwis and Aussies), and you’re not supposed to eat Durian and drink alcohol. Something about a bad chemical reaction and pain. Possible spontaneous combustion.
2.) It was banned in every hotel and most restaurants. Usually with very large circle-slash signs.
3.) I didn’t have Durian opener. 🙂

What you absolutely should try from that region is Rambutan. I love it, it’s weird looking and delicious. A bit chewy, but great flavor. I sometimes find it in tins (in heavy syrup) at my local farmers market, but it’s just not the same.

P.S. “…the nicer bits of skunk…” – classic!

9. babychaos - 2, May 2007

Hey I know and love Rambutan, it wasn’t quite the season while we were there but many years ago I went to Thailand in August and ate vast quantities of them. I can imagine Durian is banned pretty much everywhere, we reckoned if it wasn’t banned in our hotel it would be once they smelled ours! That was one of the reasons we gave it to Made…

Durian and drink, now that’s intriguing, we could have unintentionally made ourselves horribly ill. I could imagine it might have something to do with indigestion or the like as it does have a similar effect to raw onions, put that with booze and… or maybe when you have alcohol with it you get the Durian influenced equivalent of Guinness farts which are enough to gas a whole country! ;-).



10. Nomsta* of Gooodness - 30, November 2007

I chanced upon your blog and entry about trying durians… all i can say is, I LOVE DURIANS, given I am south east asian. Kudos for trying it, I think everyone should, despite overcoming its first “stinky” (we call it heavenly here, nothing close to real stinky goat cheese but your ” cooking Gas” description is very close. So for everyone else, do try it and some of my white friends have been converted into fans actually!

11. babychaos - 30, November 2007

Well Nomsta, I liked it!



12. J. Beecroft - 3, February 2008

I’ve just bought my first Durian, in Toronto’s Chinatown. Your desriptions above made me laugh ’til I cried. I’m taking it to school on Monday because I’m quite sure my students will never have seen, smelled, or tasted one. Just now it smells like a cross between a pineapple and a melon….who knows if it’s ripe?
Joan in rural Ontario

13. babychaos - 4, February 2008

Hey J Beecroft, delighted to have made you chuckle… sounds like yours smells a lot nicer than mine, maybe the skunk/onion notes come later, eh?



14. Josh - 28, April 2008


15. Billy and Emma Fabroa - 6, May 2008

hi I’m billy i really love to eat durian thats why iv decided to be a whole seller of this fruits., if u want to buy or whole sale just contact me at 09187081992 particularly be found our durian outlets or fruitstand at Valencia city bukidnon market.

16. RAMAIAH - 8, June 2008

please for the durian fruit session for ,month so waht is the benifits for the medician and where please

17. John H. Williams - 25, July 2009

Neways, International has developed “Durian Fusion” a Health and Energy beverage made from the King of Fruits. Durian Builder markets it. You can actually make some money by joining the Durian Builder team that does 95% of the work for you 24/7.

18. becci - 29, December 2009

my bf said, what durian taste like….

1. taste like, dead cow left in the summer sun for a few days with some shit mixed in, then mixed up in a blender

2. like sucking tofu water through a dirty sock

hahhaa..for me…only simple word
“Just taste like heaven!”

19. dilie - 26, March 2011

dude durian is NOT what I expected!!!!

20. Lily - 28, April 2011

HI, just want to give you an interesting info….my family lives in Indonesia and for us Durian is on par with caviaar. The best secret to make durian taste yummy with less odor would be putting it on the refrigerator first. Wait until it’s cold, when the durian is cold it would not gave you so much odor….and when it’s cold it’s heavenly as well in taste. You can put it on the fruit section, or if your’e adventurous you can put it on the upper-part which house the iceblocks.
My father always open the fruit and together with my mother they’d move the fruit into a jar(but you can use ziplock if you’re really mindful of the odor) and after a night or two, we always fight for our share. I don’t understand why westerners say the odor is disgusting…for me the odor can be sharp but they’re also heavenly. Maybe it’s just similar to Japanese and their natto. For Indonesians, durian is a high-class fruit, it’s not cheap by our standard and definitely seasonal. If you’re poor you’d rarely eat durian, let alone a high-quality durian. Just imagine it like caviaar, or maybe like expensive high-quality cheese blocks.
But anyway, if you mindful about your refrigerator odor then you can always buy those tiny-boxes which absorb odor from refrigerator. And make sure to open the refrigerator door often- so the odor can escape the refrigerator. Usually the odor would go in one-two days. I take it if you’re used to durian odor, you’d come to love it. I think it has to grow on you. Just try my advice next time, and you can even whip durian juice from the fruit(very very popular in my country). See you then.

21. Gwen - 28, July 2011

I was recently in South China for 3 weeks with a student exchange program and while there, I was lucky enough to try durian. You got the smell of it down pretty good, although I’ve been describing it as burning rubber and onions. The taste… not exactly what I experienced. I was with the 5 other American students when I tried it and we all agreed on a flavor. Garlic, chicken, rotten cheese, and just a hint of mango. The texture was like a mushy strawberry/celery hybrid, kind of similar to fresh jackfruit. I can clearly say that none of us enjoyed it. It’s difficult to eat with chopsticks, too.

babychaos - 5, August 2011

The guy we were with chose one carefully to appeal to western taste. He said that the Balinese usually eat them riper… maybe you just had one that was aimed at South East Aisaners rather than Westerners! 😉



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