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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

Daily Photo–Strange Fruit

I have encountered some strange fruit in my life time, but nothing so strange and stinky as Durian. It’s smell conjures up many a night market in Taiwan back when I lived and taught there so long ago. It just plain stinks. In fact, we called it “stinky fruit,” and I still do. It’s no “Stinky Do-Fu,” but it’s a really close second in terms of pungent nostril invasion–the kind that lingers in your nostrils like the burn of a mistaken whiff of bleach. If you have never been to an Asian night market, you can feel solace in never having smelled this smell if you have a weak stomach. If you are hearty, go, young people, go!! Smell the smells of a Taiwanese night market–you won’t regret it–in a few days at least. Weak stomach people, please heed my warning! Avoid them. 

I still find it interesting to see these very odd, spiky, tropical fruits make an appearance in my boring, weekly shop. Prior to coming here, such fruits were the filed under the province of “Exotica,” something I saw somewhere–usually something that someone smuggled in through one of the many agricultural stops in the USA. These fruits were something that had no place in our everyday shop. Having written that, I do remember seeing durian at my local Vietnamese shop in Olympia and recoiling in the mere act of remembering what it smelled like–I did not even go in for the whiff. I just knew not to do it by primal instinct. Fire = burn. Durian = smell in nose that NEVER, EVER goes away.

The funny thing for me about Durian is that, long ago, I bought my daughters a picture book about Chinese New Year–you know, to ground them multi-culturally…wink wink nod nod (I did once think I could do this just by reading a book, and perhaps you can?!). Said book was an Asia for Americans kind of “A-B-C book,” and most of it was adorable. The letter “D” stood for Durian. It said, and I am not kidding here, “It tastes like heaven, but it smells like hell.” The puritan in me flat-handedly clasped my chest with one hand and said, “Oh my! That’s not nicely put,” and I am not even slightly religious. My girls were really young, but old enough to understand that wasn’t the nicest thing to write. I did have to concur with the book though. Durian smells like rot, but it has a pleasant taste. I cannot think of another food stuff that is so hard on the nostrils going down, but pleasing on the palate once in. Can you?


Durian: Perhaps the Strangest of All Fruits?

In case you ever find yourself in the position when you might need or want to distinguish a “ripe” durian from an “off” durian (you cannot tell from the smell obviously), check this link. Seems legit.


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