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The curious and exotic durian.

By Chef Brian

The curious and exotic durian.

Would it ever cross your mind to eat something that smelled like rotting onions and stinky socks? It has ours. Consider the curious durian - a fruit hailing from southeast Asia and beloved for its wonderful, creamy, custard-like pulp and maligned for its you're-not-allowed-to-bring-that-in-here odor. We decided it'd be a good time to bring one in, except you can't find them fresh in the US, only frozen. Well frozen it is. We thawed it in a cooler left outside for fear the stench would overpower us. That's no joke. They really love this fruit in Asia but there are places there that have signs stating clearly that durians are not allowed on the premises. Sounds delightful. We couldn't keep this to ourselves so we invited a few "unsuspecting guests" over for a taste test…here's what they had to say.

John Abbott

Chefs Joe and Brian had told me that they planned to try some of the notorious Durian fruit, so when I saw their entourage outside the MEC cutting them up I approached with caution. I was about 25 yards away, but given the reputation of the Durian, I began sniffing the air from a good distance. Surprisingly, I smelled nothing, even as I got within 10 feet of the party. Finally, at a distance of about 5 feet, I smelled a faint odor, reminiscent of cantaloupe that had been left in the sun. After seeing the strange characteristics of the fruit, I was a bit leery of sampling it. It looked like a cross between a pineapple and a pine cone on the outside and some sort of alien organ on the inside. The different convolutions and chambers were like nothing I'd ever seen. When they started extracting pieces from those chambers it looked a bit like a doctor performing surgery. I finally summoned the courage to try a bite, and was pleasantly surprised. It had flavors of both cantaloupe and pineapple with just a hint of onion, and an odd creamy yet fibrous texture. I must say that I don't plan to buy any Durian fruit in the near future, but if shipwrecked I suppose I could live off of it for a while.

Valinda Wagner

After reading the Wikipedia description of the durian, I was mentally ready to face it with a mind-over-matter attitude. I usually do not handle stinky food well, but I was determined not to show any weakness in front of my work colleagues.

I have to admit, after a week of trash talking about eating the foul smelling fruit, I was very disappointed when the Chef cut into the durian and it did not stink. At all. Actually, I was fascinated by the pod-like, capsule interior structure of the fruit. The pods' texture felt somewhat like stale pudding --- sort of plastic but not quite pliable; smooth but not slick.

Then we tasted it. Actually the texture made us all a little leery, but the taste, while not exactly yummy, was not offensive.

As the group continued to be fascinated by the durian, mostly by how alien it looked, we slowly began to notice the shift in its aroma. As the durian started to warm up and be exposed to air, the smell began to morph from a subtle overripe melon to stinky trash. Before it could go too far, the Chefs wisely wrapped it up and disposed of the durian, in the outside dumpster.

I cannot imagine that I would ever proactively buy or eat a durian....unless I was in Vietnam...and I had lost a bet.

Nancy Wolff

I think -Durian lives up to its strange fruit reputation-inside and out.

I think -It looks a porcupine, smells like a WAY, WAY past due melon.

Texture reminds me of rubber cement.

Tastes like---hmmm, I wouldn't know, I had a tough time getting past the other senses.

Dr. John Becker

I read a bit about the durian before eating and I have to admit I was fearful. I am not a huge fan of melons as it is, but when I read that it was banned from hotels and public transportation in Asia, I got even more scared. When Chef Brian cut it open, my fears were not put to rest. It looked like some sort of egg that would come from an alien in the movies. However, it didn't stink at all. The durian tasted a bit like cantaloupe but didn't have a whole lot of water in it. It was almost like a melon custard. Can't say I'd go out of my way to find one, but it would probably make a great smoothie.

Chef Joe

I have had some previous exposure to this delicacy/cruel-joke. Brian mentioned he would like to give it a try. So being a nurturing friend we created The Durian Challenge at the MEC. I spent some time working in Asia and clearly understand the intense odor this fruit can possess. I tried anything anyone put in front of me until I encounter Durian. It was my only refusal. The safety mechanisms in my brain took over. Here is my attempt at describing the odor of Durian. The odor of bananas, and green almonds aged in a heavily used trash can full of oyster and crab shells at the beach in the sun for days. This is not an exaggeration! What we tried was not good. Floral in odor and rotten pawpaw like in flavor. Not even close. I was disappointed for everyone involved.

It took guts to show-up that day! Thanks to everyone that tried Durian.

Chef Brian

You know I have to admit that is wasn't as bad as I had expected. The texture was a little weird and the taste seemed a little like oniony melon. The aroma was certainly tolerable and would by no means run me out of my house. I have to think that this could be an American version of a durian. One that we might find a little more acceptable. I don't know this for sure mind you but I do expect we got a much tamer version or variety of this curious fruit.