Awful. Disgusting. Horrible. These words best describe such when our olfactory faculty is assaulted by the overpowering smell of durian. I was still in elementary when the said fruit was introduced and it took some considerable amount of prodding for me to take the first bite.
Most people find it repulsive specially if they are not into it and would rather stay away from it. Not for us long time converts and durian devotees because when our collective appetites strike, we will do whatever it takes to appease our cravings. For what it's worth, durian is either revered or reviled.
Below is my attempt in capturing the experience the first time I got to taste durian.
At first look, durian resembles a jackfruit merged to a porcupine and a tortoise which went wrong. The husk is replete with sturdy spikes to ward off would-be potential predators. Also, the spikes are lethal enough to be weaponized by a scorned woman. It is rather odd to acknowledge such weird-looking fruit as ‘fruit’ and that it is edible. It is not encouraged planting it near residential areas as it can cause collateral damage and casualties.
I’m no zen master when opening this freak of a fruit since if it’s up to me, I would hurl it against a wall with sufficient force until it breaks open. But alas, there is a convinient way to open durian without breaking a sweat or going berserk. Fruit vendors would poke the bottom part of the fruit with a knife and work its way up splitting the ridges. Once open, it will reveal what is hidden inside a treat like no other which is ready for the taking.
There is this distinctive aroma which, in one sniff, can be associated to the King of Fruits. The more durian is mature enough to be eaten, the more its "foul" smell intensifies. Part of the reason why it is banned in public places and for bringing it on board a plane or in a hotel is because it reeks of rotten onions (with a hint of roadkill and a poor grade musk thrown in) which clings stubbornly to our clothes.
Also, the revolting smell is the stuff of nightmares made of by a mad perfumer bent in using it as weapon for mass destruction and for repelling upright daywalkers. It really stinks but judging from the years of accumulated durian-eating under my belt, I am already used to it. The awful smell is easily forgotten once you have tasted it.
What durian lacks in appeal and aroma makes up for its otherworldly sensory experience since upon indulging, the enticing flesh tastes like sweet pudding with nutty undertones depending on the variety. Other durian varieties are a bit bitter and some not so sweet. There is a particular durian variety for you out there depending on one’s preferences. I like mine sweet and rich and intoxicating.
Once masticated, the texture is creamy and milky like ice cream only denser. Giving in is much like eating your favorite dessert in the world but so much better. What the nose declares to be revolting, the tongue negates it otherwise. Durian tastes nothing like how the way it smells. Opening the fruit will gloriously reveal its delicate fibrous flesh cocooned in separate chambers, soft and yellowish like butter. Such delicate flesh inviting you to give in---to gustatory temptation!
What prompted me to write this piece of “gastronomic tale of epic proportions” was that I saw a truckload of durian display along the national highway going to the city. Could it be that durian is again in season? And all the while, I thought durian abounds only during ‘ber’ months.
Lastly, durian is known to be an aphrodisiac and bringing up the latter as a conversation piece would still make others blush. If there is a grain of truth to that , then forgive us, durian devotees for our wanton indulgence.
Got durian? Will eat.