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#23 Durian

Posted March 3rd, 2008 by kvietgrl · 58 Comments

I’ve recently discovered this blog and think it’s hilarious, a good laugh for the day, so I decided to contribute to the effort by writing once in a while a series on tropical fruits – my true passion! I’m not funny so please bear with the cheesy report/journalistic nature of my fruit series. Have fun!

“The fact that a fruit exists that looks like a giant mace with spiky points proves that God exists, and he has a sense of humor…” – a friend of mine

MeThe world should be exposed to the wonders and secrets of the Asian equatorial area: tropical fruits! These regions include Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and other tropical areas…even Canada and the US are now discovering the phenomenon and are learning to plant it so you better be in the know! Let’s start the first post with the most paradoxical one: Durian, a fruit that elicits the most polar of responses. Many Asians are in love with durian and think it tastes and smells good. This is an important point – smells good. They’re addicted to its sweet and exotic aroma, and love how it warms up their hearts and stomaches. However, some Asians will say that durian smells nasty like putrid fart and will run away at the slightest whiff. you still haven’t seen this monster, it’s usually a brownish yellow-green color on the outside with somewhat firm skin. The skin is thick enough when ripe for the durian to be a feat to open. The inside yellow part you eat is soft like custard. When not ripe, it hangs on trees along the streets of equatorial Asian regions – green – and very SPIKY! In old times, Asians must have used it for defense in wars as they can probably knock enemies out with one thrust of the durian. The fruit is yellow on the inside, with a brown, usually big seed. The brighter the yellow, the sweeter and more intense it tastes, and the “stinkier” or “lovelier” it smells depending on which durian party you stand.

People know where Singapore stands as a country with the signs everywhere forbidding carriage of durians on their transits; however, it’s somewhat odd that they’ve dedicated their Esplanade building to boast the beauty of this spiky creature. Therefore, the world knows deep down Singaporeans probably dig durian and can’t have enough of it. Why else would they need the signs?

As one of the world’s top food connoisseurs, Asians have developed many culinary art forms, one being The Art of Eating Fruits. So here’s how Asians get to business:

1. Asians know their knives. They must buy the cheapest and sharpest. If it becomes dull, they’ll use the back of their rice bowls to sharpen the knives. Primitive? Not for the Asians.


2. Despite their ineptitude for the football sport, Asians know exactly how to hold their durians. Asians hold the side of the durian, gripping areas between the spikes with their fingers.


3. At places that are raised higher, they work their knives down one inch into the fruit while spreading the open slit with their tiny fingers while avoiding smushing the fruit. Remember, asians are perfectionists.


4. With their thin bodies, asians must carefully use both hands and arm strength to widen the slits. They are especially patient and hard-working when it comes to good food.


5. Try this at home and feel proud for learning The Art of Eating Fruit. To maximize their resources, Asians save leftovers by making durian ice cream. They wrap the pieces up in saran wrap and throw it in the freezer. Also, they save the seeds to boil them and they’ve got themselves a potatoey treat!

My photo

If you want to make an Asian happy, when treated with durian at their home, go on and on complimenting how clever they were in picking it out, how sweet and delightful-smelling it is and you’ll automatically be put on their New Year’s red envelope list. How do Asians know which durian tastes the best if they all look the same?

In order to pick the best one, Asians want to get their money’s worth even if they’re picking out a cheap frozen one. Asian moms or grandmas have the eye for the freshness of the spikes and color, magic fingers to feel and press the fruit to sense how big each section is, and they know their fruit seasons. The durian has 5 sections, each having 2-3 yellow pieces to eat. However, some durians will only have 3 inedible pieces in the entire fruit due to one’s lack of Asian skills.

In light of bargains, yes, one should wait until there is a sale at the Asian supermarket or if you’re in Asia, then you’ll need some charm and bartering skills at the flea markets because they’ll try to jack up the price! Flea market ladies will try to trick you of every kuai or dong…if you are a naive Asian, then you could easy get tricked after spending such a long time picking the best durian and trying to get the best deal; however, at the end, flea market lady could very well surreptitiously slip a rotten durian into your bag and you’ll walk happily home.

Anyhow, back to the US, durians are usually sold for $3.99/lb at an Asian supermarket for a fresh one. Frozen ones are 99 cents/lb. Usually, Asians will get the frozen ones exported from Thailand or somewhere and dethaw it for about 3 hours because it’s cheaper. They gotta save every cent. When Asian families have a special occasion, maybe once a year, they might get a fresh one. These things are heavy depending on size, usually 3-4 lbs!

Me and Friend

In my quest for truth, I wanted to know if my Asian friends were simply pretending to hate durian or was there something genetic about their sense of smell that made them run away because in the end, I couldn’t take no for an answer. How could some Asians completely reject a fruit that so clearly represents their Asian nature? Tasty and Farty. Sweet and Spunky. Back in the days, I performed some “field research” at my dorm. Note: Asians have too much time on their hands. 100% of those whom I polled gave durian a try, and 72.7% (8 out of 11) liked it, while 27.3% told me to take it far away. These people were of all races; 2 Indians, 3 Chinese, and 3 White people tried and liked it. 1 White, 1 White/Asian, and 1 Chinese hated it. My conclusion was that affinity for this fruit extends beyond race and that out of a random sample, most people like durian but are scared because of what they’ve heard about it. Also, some Asians simply don’t like it and that’s the end of the story or they don’t want to seem uncool or fobby if spotted eating it. Side note: two of the white people even asked for more and reminded me a couple times to bring it back to the dorm. Hopefully this was a decent introduction and did the great durian some justice. If you have more questions regarding the durian, feel free to leave some comments.

Written by Kvietgrl

Last 5 posts by kvietgrl

Tags: Activities · Chinese · Culture · Customs · Environment · Food & Beverage · Fruits · Habits · People · Products · Vietnamese

58 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jessica // Mar 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    excellent post. can’t wait to try the durian out! which side of the line will i be on?

  • 2 kvietgrl // Mar 3, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    hopefully the cool side =)

  • 3 Dr. Chan // Mar 3, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Nice work guest writer (:

  • 4 Anonymous // Mar 4, 2008 at 8:48 am

    this is stupid. durian tastes gross and i don’t know one single asian person that likes it.

  • 5 kvietgrl // Mar 4, 2008 at 9:05 am

    hey don’t hate the fruit just because you and the people u know don’t like it…it wouldn’t have earned its fame and its own post if it didn’t have any substance. read the post carefully and know that there are 2 types of people: ones who like durian and ones who don’t. there are some that could like the fruit but will never give it a try because of what they’ve heard or assume about it.

  • 6 jase // Mar 4, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I just got back from Singapore and I know plenty of Asians who love durian. A friend made me try and it was the single worse thing I ever tasted, including monkey brain in Viet Nam, cobra, and snake wine to name a few. It touched my throat and my body hated me and wanted to reject it.

  • 7 StereoTypicalAsian // Mar 5, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Dude, I am a Korean and I have never even seen this in a Korean Market. I must not be an Asian… You’ve got some wierd stuffs in your list.

  • 8 Peter // Mar 5, 2008 at 7:23 am


  • 9 Justin // Mar 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    does s.korea grow durian? it has to have tropical equatorial climate

  • 10 SD Steve // Mar 6, 2008 at 8:10 am

    I used to eat durian all the time in Singapore when I visited our office there. (I’m white from San Diego) Every Singaporean colleague I knew LOVED it! I’d be good for one of them, but they’d pig out on a couple. I remember that we had to go to a certain part of town and eat them outside, and there were hoses to wash your fingers off after eating. The routine was to go to a nice restaurant for dinner, than to the durian part of town for dessert.

    One thing you didn’t mention was it’s sister fruit, mangosteen, which is the “yin” fruit to durian’s “yang”. I was told they balance each other so healthy to eat together. Now, some may hate durian, but everyone loves mangosteen! If you ever get a chance to try it, check it out.

    They also told me that the durian from Malaysia was better than from Thailand. I’ve never had Thai durian so I can’t comment on that part.

  • 11 hapa // Mar 6, 2008 at 10:47 am

    there’s also a myth that eating too much durian could kill you.

    one of my thai relatives who owns a restaurant was interviewed for an article on it and he said, “too much durian not kill you, just give you bad stomach ache, like eating too much ice cream. only time durian kill you is if it falls off the tree and land on your head.”

  • 12 fotofinish // Mar 7, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I’m from Singapore and GAG everytime I go near a durian. I’m probably the only southeast asian who absolutely detests the fruit. It smells like a combo of old sweaty socks and BO!

    Mangosteens ROCK! I don’t know if you can get it outside of Southeast Asia though. It’s a gorgeous fruit and everyone should try it.

  • 13 Anonymous // Mar 7, 2008 at 9:58 am


    Yeah, I am Korean also and there are some weird things on this list. Maybe it should be re-titled “Stuff Chinese Expatriates Like”… it’s got more in common with people from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

    This site doesn’t really represent me.

  • 14 tfw // Mar 7, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    it’s really good in warm milk

    liked the episode of “knowledge sponge” on durian, the only fruit a tiger will eat, because it smells like rotting flesh

  • 15 Amy // Mar 10, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I lived in Vietnam for the first 18 years of my life and hate durians, but don’t mind durian flavoured cakes & icecream. The rest of my family love it though.

    My theory is that Asians from the North (North Vietnam, North Laos, China, Korea, Japan, etc.) don’t like durians because they can’t grow it there. While the rest of Asia (that has tropical climate and can grow the stuff) can’t get enough of it.

    i love jackfruits though. Those are the best!!!

  • 16 goamay // Mar 12, 2008 at 7:08 am

    I absolutely LOVE Durian.I am Burmese and I don’t know AaaaaNY Burmese who does not LOVE Durian.The meat is SOOOOOOOOOOO tender,its like butter.Sweet,sweet butter.And the aroma!!!There is NO scent quite like it.

  • 17 goamay // Mar 12, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Jackfruit is sweet but its coarser,the flavor is out there ,not subtle like durian.Its like comparing fine porcelain to ceramic.

  • 18 YASPY Chick // Mar 12, 2008 at 9:20 am

    OMG! I didn’t even know what it was until I saw the pic! We do lychee and saw teen yow at home.

  • 19 Trinity // Mar 13, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I visited Asia for the first time last year and I literally eat durian everyday. I love it! It tastes so much better in Asia than it is in the US though.

    Oh, and I also heard that durian fruits fall off its tree only in the night time. Imagine it falling off during the day, it would’ve probably kill some people…

  • 20 Justin // Mar 13, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    lol, that’s cool about durian, never heard about it falling off at night, i wonder why though

  • 21 Dt // Mar 14, 2008 at 8:57 am

    kvietgirl you should write more often! This is a great representation of South East Asian culture (Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotion, etc.). The post was entertaining and funny and it definitely hit home for me!

  • 22 kvietgrl // Mar 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    thanks for dropping the note. =P perhaps i should get to the next fruit sooner! i’m so crazy about Asian fruit…as you can probably tell.

  • 23 an // Mar 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    good post. i can only eat this durian flavored sticky rice with mango pudding and thats pretty much all i can take of this loved/hated fruit.

  • 24 asd // Mar 31, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Nice information…but was it really necessary to say “because asian people are – ” …Kind of stereotypical and offensive to me :/

  • 25 Tet // Apr 10, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Well, I’ve tried it, and I still run the freak away when I smell my mom pulling a piece out of the freezer *lol*

    Putrid fart indeed… If I ever want to confirm that my gag reflex works, I use durian. Never fails.

  • 26 rima // Apr 21, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    durian originates from indonesia/malaysia although the thais has been cultivating and growing it for a long time. its name is derived from the indonesian word ‘duri’ meaning thorn/prick, durian simply means thorny/prickly.

    it is one of the best fruits we have, bloody good and tasty.

  • 27 supermacacao // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I am the definition of the term WASP without most of the accompanying lame traits. I’m consider myself a ‘foodie’,eat every new thing that comes near, yet have never tried durian:(( One of my thai friends describes it as tasting like gold but smelling like toxic waste. Sounds good to me!! I’ve had mangosteen and nearly started hallucinating due to the taste, mmmmm. Can the seeds be planted in the Northern US?

  • 28 Anonymous // Apr 23, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    My dad told me that in Vietnam, people who grew durian had to wear metal hats when they walked out into their gardens, because they grew on tall trees and fall when the wind blows. hahahah.

  • 29 Blueapple aka Dev // May 1, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Malaysian here… and we LOVE durian, jackfruit, mangosteen, mango anything you name it… My sister once dont like durian bcoz of the smell, but when my mom forced her to have some, she couldnt stop. At home during the Durian season (nov and dec), we will have almost 40 to 50 durians (mostly medium sized)… End up with sore throat bcoz of the heatiness…hahaha

  • 30 Natural // May 1, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Well…I like durian, don’t really love it, my dad loves it, he likes durian boba….Its pretty darn good, but you better not make out with anyone afterwards…lol. That’s why it has the reputation to have the” Taste of heaven, but the smell of hell”….or something to that effect.

  • 31 Steve // May 13, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    I’m Chinese but grew up in the states and I hate durian when I was young and hate it now. Yuck. Though my parents love it.

  • 32 baboon // May 17, 2008 at 3:40 am

    I love durian!! I used to hate it too because this other kid kept complaining about it and I guess I wanted to be cool like him. damn kid! All that time hating the fruit wasted! My nephew is 2 years old and he loves it…you have to train them early haha

  • 33 Anonymous // May 25, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I am Asian, and I LOVE durians. But I know lots of Asians who hate the smell and taste of a durain. And those Asians, whom I lovingly refer to as fuck-tards, are Americanized, or Westernized, whatever. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t give you the right to openly insult it and the people who love it. I mean, I think the foods you eat are the shitiest and nastiest foods on earth, but I am too much of a gentleman to point that out. And StereoTypicalAsian, you’re right! You’re not Asian, you are a Fuck-tard.

  • 34 angela // Jun 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    hey I’m an Asian American and very westernized but I like durian! My mom always gets them when the growing season rolls around. She gets the frozen ones. I don’t ever see ones that arent frozen. My sis loves it but my brothers dont but they don’t gag over it…

    that one guy on TV who goes around the world (mostly Asia) and eats everything started gagging when he tried some and I’m all wtf?! He can eat sick bugs and all that but not durian?!

  • 35 Diana // Jun 3, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Great post! I LOVE durian and have been enjoying them for about 2 years now, but I’m still trying to figure out how to pick out a good one.

  • 36 Aaron Lim // Jul 13, 2008 at 5:20 am

    Ahahaha. Durian to me is awesome. My mom and I eat it all the time! It kinda got me started on the whole mystery of the durian and why it is so different to people.

    My dad hates durian, F.Y.I.

    Does anyone know why the durians like that? I’d like to know. I thought it was genetics but i know a few people who hate durian even though thier families are in love with it.

    Get back to me, kay? ^-^

    Oh, and great post. XD

  • 37 hmm // Jul 14, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    use to like it when young, but alway get a bad sore throat after that, and got once i think i eat to much of it and become very sick of it, so now don`t really like it anymore, sometime smell of it will remind me of that inccident and might puke.

  • 38 Joyce // Jul 24, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    All the ABC’s in my family, extended, hates it because of the smell. And the oldest hated it, the younger ones followed. :D

    In my family, between 2 familys the youngest was always the target. The one who is too different. You just have to be old enough to get pick on. Yeah it sucked, for around 4 years I guess until my younger sister came. Then… 4 more years because she was too young… Just something I would like to share :D

  • 39 Sol // Jul 27, 2008 at 5:04 am

    Durian is more Southeast Asian anything, which is why some East Asians like the Japanese and Koreans aren’t familiar with this fruit. The more pungent, the better. Love it or loathe it, but you can never be in the middle.

    I LOVE this fruit. It’s not called the King of Fruits for nothing. Unfortunately my halfie significant other hates it, so I guess I should treasure this freedom before I settle down in the future!

  • 40 Jennifer // Aug 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    There is an Asian market in town that used to carry Durian. I went yesterday and they did not know what I was talking about. How do you say Durian in Korean? I am not sure what specific enthnicity they are, but I know they are Asian, maybe Korean. I guess I will have to take a picture of a Durian fruit in.

  • 41 Greg // Oct 18, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Drink some Coca-Cola with it and let out big burps. The smell is the best!

  • 42 diegoshind // Jan 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I like the taste but not the smell. My gf loves it so much. So im half way in, however i will always eat it, i just dont know how to get past the smell.

  • 43 Bob // Jan 10, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I’m a white Australian, and I love the stuff. Not a fan of the smell, but once you get over it, they taste fantastic. We could probably grow them here but we don’t, which sucks. Frozen is fine, but I’ve had fresh in Indonesia and Vietnam a bunch of times and it’s definitely better.

  • 44 SelphieFairy // Feb 1, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    You know, it’s strange.

    I only knew it by the Vietnamese name until my school did this “Fear Factor” thing when i was in 8th grade. One of the obstacles was to eat “Durian, the Stinky Fruit.” I had never heard of “Durian” before, so i was pretty surprised when I saw kids gagging to get down something i ate a lot of my childhood.

    And i was even more confused as to why they even called it a “stinky fruit” in the first place, and why the kids were having so much trouble eating it. I mean, to me, it has always smelled really good and tasted even better lol.

    yup, to this day, i still don’t understand why people think it smells bad. it has NEVER EVER smelled bad to me. at all! I even stuff it in my face and sniff really hard to try and see if im missing something lol. but it just smells sweet to me! Even my mom thinks it smells bad…

  • 45 Anthony Pham // Feb 6, 2009 at 1:48 am

    So true with the bowl sharpening! lol

  • 46 Chinese Girl // Mar 10, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I’m on and off with durian. Sometimes I love it and sometimes it’ll make me want to throw up. Depends on mood and season I guess. But yea, a lot of Chinese people love durian but a lot hate it too. I guess it’s the same as stinky tofu.

  • 47 Crazy_Asian // Mar 16, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Durian is very good… but you have to let it ripen… it just depends on my taste bud that day… but most of the time is is AWESOME ^_^crowds1925

  • 48 got-rice // Oct 11, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I’ll only have durian as a smoothie, from Lee’s or some other Viet coffee shop!

  • 49 Sarah // Oct 13, 2009 at 2:53 am

    FYI, if you drink alcohol and eat durian, you could DIE (true, look it up)

    i actually don’t love it, or hate it, it’s kind of “all right”, but for some reason i possess the skills to crack one open, but my sister (who is in LOVE with durian) does not.

  • 50 #126 Sushi « Stuff Asian People Like - Asian Central // Oct 25, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    [...] been a while since Kvietgrl has exposed the juicier and meatier sides of Asian Culture with #23 Durian and  #82 [...]

  • 51 Jane // Dec 24, 2009 at 4:28 am

    A little late… but I used to LOVE it. I would do anything to eat it – I eat it with my rice too. Then, I turned 8, and then I hated it. Can’t stand the smell, and taste of it anymore. Haven’t tried it since. Maybe I should try it again.

  • 52 matteo // Feb 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    It’s hilarious.

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  • 54 Girl Here // Aug 5, 2011 at 1:56 am

    I used to like durian, then I hated it, because it made my throat feel weird, then I realized i was allergic. Well bananas, and avocados make the same throat feeling (well, if not eaten with milk or something idk, avocado bubble tea, try it), but I still eat, cause I like it.

  • 55 Durian Debutant // Jan 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I just tried a bit of imported Durian and it was nasty! The first taste that came to mind was onion! I imagine that it would taste fairly good in a soup of something where onion is good. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to go somewhere and try it fresh. I suspect that imported durian isn’t as representative of the fruit taste-wise as fresh fruit freshly picked!


  • 56 Chris // Mar 8, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Great article, kvietgirl !

    I’m an Indonesian and durian is sold by vendors everywhere on the streets when it’s durian season. When the time comes, it’s like heaven on earth to me :)

    Be careful, eating this excessively would create more gas in your stomach and might make you feel sick. However, it could help you to sleep because eating this too much could make your head feels heavy.

    In Indonesia, durian vendors might trick you by giving you bland ones to take home, so my band mates and I prefer to eat them on the spot where we buy them. Some vendors provide stools for buyers to sit on, and they eat the durians right there. If the durians are not sweet, we can give complaints to the vendors right there.

    In mountain villages in East Java, and most likely in all over Java Island, people just plant durian trees on their backyard or in front of their house. It’s sometimes scary to be around the tree, especially when the fruits are ripe, because strong winds could cause the fruits to fall and it could hit us (this almost happened to me). Although not every Indonesian likes durian, in Indonesian proverbs, “falling durian” means an unexpected luck. Maybe everyone loves durian back then.

    Supermarkets here sell them flesh-packed, so people don’t need to get difficulties of opening the durians. Still, the sensation won’t be the same with opening it yourself and eating it straight away. The price in supermarkets are also too expensive compared to those sold on the street or in traditional market.

    Well, I’m writing this while eating durian, and I want to tell you…
    Hahaha— Don’t be scared of trying some. If you don’t like it, don’t eat durian anymore. If you do, you’ll be glad that you’ve tried :D

  • 57 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 10, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Durian is gross. Plus it smells awful!!! In Philadelphia’s Chinatown they bake durian into cake and I scrape it off because it’s so nasty!!!!

  • 58 ilovehorseyrides // Sep 9, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    About the last part. That was when I was younger. I now love durian.. the smell is still awful, but the taste isn’t bad. I’s very common in Chinatown birthdays cakes (which is how I prefer to eat them!!!)

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