A lot of people travelling to Asian countries seem to ask the question “What is durian and should I eat it?” and my family was no different. We’d heard of durian when looking to book accomodation, and the hotel stated that durian could not be brought into the hotel because if the smell got into the air vents, it was impossible to get out.
On our first day in Malaysia, whilst being taken on a tour from the Air Asia airport towards Kuala Lumpur to our homestay accomodation, the lovely Malay man we were staying with, Hassan decided to let us try some durian.
If you’ve never heard of durian, it’s an Asian fruit with sharp spikes making up the skin, and inside it is made up of sections of the fruit.
Hassan informed us that most tourists hate the smell of durian, but the locals absolutely love it. He said it was similar with the taste – the locals love it and tourists mostly hate it.
So once we were out of the car and at the durian stand, the men there kindly chopped one open and let us have a taste. You have to pull out a piece from the inside, and it is white and has a mushy and somewhat slimey feel to it.
Once you bite into the fruit, it becomes very mushy and has a strange taste. My younger sister described it as tasting of onions, whilst the rest of us couldn’t place it. It is definitely not sweet like most fruits are in Australia, and that is probably what threw us off the most.
My sister tried to swallow hers and immediately threw up, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow it and spat it on the ground, and my younger brother swallowed a tiny bite and complained of the taste. As for my parents, they both swallowed theirs down, and my step-dad seemed to like it a lot more than my mother.
One surprise about durians that we found out later was that it was, as my mother said, “the gift that keeps on giving” as it makes you feel gassy and every time you burp, you taste the durian again.
So while it isn’t sweet and has an unexpected texture, durian is an adventure that you should definitely take when in Asia. Ask a local to check if it is “good durian” or not, and then take the plunge. You may not want to force the kids however, as anyone with less developed tastebuds seemed to reject the idea.