Why people love durian, the banned fruit that stinks like garbage
The aroma of durian – one of the most polarizing foods in the world – is hard to pin down, but here are some attempts people have made: Limburger cheese, gym socks & turpentine, New York City’s hot summer garbage, and pig droppings.
Countries where it's commonly found have banned it from public spaces, as even just a single fruit can turn the air within entire hotels and airports rancid. Here’s everything you need to know about durian, the world’s truly forbidden fruit.
Durian, called the "king of fruits," is a tree fruit primarily found across large swaths of Asia. There are around 30 individual species of Durio, and hundreds of varieties in just Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Not all types of durian are edible, but of the fruits that are, they largely share common characteristics like thorny exterior rinds that range from green to pale brown. They look a bit like much smaller jackfruit, maxing out between 5 and 7 pounds.
Unlike the texture of jackfruit – which can resemble pulled pork – pale white or orangey durian flesh is downright creamy; imagine reshaping a stick of room temperature butter by cupping it within the palms of your hands.
The taste continues along this motif. It’s described as custard-like, resembling buttercream or silky almond paste. Its high sugar content even means that vintners are able to turn the flesh into wine.
So it’s a Dr. Seussian spiky ball of flan that grows on trees. What’s so awful about that? An old adage about the fruit sums up the conflict inherent within; they taste like heaven and smell like hell.
Durian bans are the real deal across many parts of the world where the fruit grows. For example, it must be disposed of or consumed before passengers enter the Singapore Metro system, unless they want to pay a $500 SGD ($380 USD) fine.
Curiously, the only truly effective odor neutralizer for durian is the husk of the fruit itself. Washing your hands with the husk is said to draw the scent right back out.