I saw these at a local Vietnamese sandwich shop and I couldn't resist.
I've never eaten durian before and part of my instincts told me that, after everything I've heard about their odor, I shouldn't open them in my house...
but I did anyway.
To my surprise, there was not any unpleasant smell, let alone one that knocks the wind out of you.
Because of its smell, stories abound about how durian is banned in public places like malls and subways in many parts of South-East Asia.
It is also rumored to be forbidden in many hotels.
Sometimes referred to as the "King of Fruit," it is said to throw a pungent, sulfuric nose like an athlete's sock or a rotting corpse - but what makes people crave the fruit is that the horrible smell of durian is only to be outdone by its delicious taste.
Quotes pulled from Wikipedia and Urban Giraffe:
- British novelist Anthony Burgess writes that eating durian is "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory."
- Chef Andrew Zimmern compares the taste to "completely rotten, mushy onions."
- Anthony Bourdain, while a lover of durian, relates his encounter with the fruit as thus: "Its taste can only be described as...indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."
- Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says... "its odor is best described as pig-s#!t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.
- Henri Mouhot, Food Naturalist: "On first tasting it I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction.
- "The durian's smell is its outstanding feature - it is pungent, a bit like a clogged drain or rotten eggs." From the Financial Express.
- "It has been likened to rotting onions, unwashed socks and even carrion in custard, but the most accurate description by far is that of a sewer full of rotting pineapples." - BBC
A company called Greenday makes these dried durian chips in Thailand. Inside the bag were 20 or so thumb-sized bright yellow moons. They looked freeze dried and had no moisture to them whatsoever. Some were a little porous, some were smooth.
They smelled more closely to banana chips than anything else, and they tasted quite similar too. There was a distinct sulfur, eggy-like note but balanced with a complex sweetness. Although they were dried, they yielded a creaminess when you began to chew them.
I tried pairing them with a lager and a Savignon Blanc. Both seemed to compliment them well. I think that the dryness of the drinks countered the sweetness of the durian. They weren't cloying like dried mango can be, but again, sweet like dried banana chips. Although the contents didn't look like much, the 50 gram bag was unusually filling.
Although this wasn't the fresh fruit, which I can't wait to try, there was nothing unpleasant to it at all. I wonder what makes durian so repulsive then before it is dried. We'll call durian chips a durian primer for me, unlike this 15 month-old who goes straight for the good stuff...