Sunday, May 13, 2007

From the South pt5. Durian.

I've been meaning to do this post for some time but didn't have the shots. Lucky for me, there were many durian stands along the road along the Andaman Sea.

25 baht a kilo. Not too bad I guess. I'm currently paying 30 Baht a kilo in my neighborhood in Bangkok.

Where do I begin with durian? Loved by many, reviled by many. I happen to think it's one of the best things I've ever tasted. It's rich, complex, but almost indescribable. To me it tastes custard like, almondy. It's complex the same way chocolate, coffee, and wine are. It even has a strange intoxicating effect upon me. Others think it tastes like onions, dirty socks, or simply refuse to eat it because of a very rotten smell. But for me, the smell is second only to the taste.

I usually don't have a lot of tolerance for food squeemishness for this simple reason: it is food to someone, it can be food to you as well. Affluence affords us the luxury to pick and choose what foods taste yummy and good, and aviod the "strange" foods. I do the opposite: I relish the privaledge to try everyting.

As I said above, I usually don't tolerate food squeemishness. Durian is a special case though. According to my friend Wikipedia, three different scientific studies were done on durian with each finding a "...different mix of volatile compounds, including esters, ketones and many different organosulfur compounds..." Lucky for me, these things don' have much effect upon me and I can and will eat durian until I make myself sick.

This guy really didn't want to cut open this durian for me. I can't say I blame him.

Against my better judgement I ate more than half of a two kilo durian after having eaten a large lunch of curry and rice, fried dough balls of some sort, and a large sugary thai tea. A couple hours later I was still regretting it while peddaling my bicycle through the heat. They say that it is dangerous to mix durian and alcohol. I don't know why, but I don't think I want to find out.


Kaela said...

So do you just scoop it out of that shell and eat it like that?

I've seen them in my local chinatown (that suddenly sounds really weird), but I didn't know how to actually deal with one.

I've been intrigued by them because of their reputed good taste/bad smell combo.

a said...

More or less, except it really does take a knife wielding expert to cut one just right. Done just right the pieces come right out.

I've never really had to deal with one myself. Every stand here in Bangkok will prepare it for you. At the stand shown in this post, I had to convince the guy to completely cut it for me. He didn't really want to. I was on a bicycle and forgot my large sharp knife for preperation.

As per the smell/taste: everyone is different. Some people thing the smell is good and the taste is bad. Others find it all rather offensive. Others still just think it tastes werid, like onions. Also, the level of ripeness has a large effect upon your opinion. I bought some durian last night that could have cleared a room. In both Indonesia and Malaysia, that property is what determines the price. A recent durian hybrid was created without the strong smell, thus, the product would be rendered wothless in those places. But in terms of an overseas market, there might be more potential.

Anonymous said...

Thai durian (call golden pillow) are usually sweet. Malaysia durian which all singaporean prefer, is bitter sweet with stronger smell.

The husk of the durian have more function than to protect the flesh. After eating durian using bare hands, the smell will stay, one way to remove it is to wash with water pour onto the husk first. it remove 85% of the smell. To remove heatiness from durian, pour some water into the husk, put some salt into the water, stir and drink.