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King of Fruits - Durian

ritau
07月09日
The durian is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio. There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit, with over 300 named varieties in Thailand and 100 in Malaysia, as of 1987. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. It is native to Borneo and Sumatra.

Named in some regions as the "king of fruits", the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and thorn-covered rind. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and 15 cm (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs 1 to 3 kilograms (2 to 7 pounds). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.

Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance, whereas others find the aroma overpowering with an unpleasant odour. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour, which may linger for several days, has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia. By contrast, the nineteenth-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described its flesh as "a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds". The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet desserts in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.



The unusual flavour and odour of the fruit have prompted many people to express diverse and passionate views ranging from deep appreciation to intense disgust. Writing in 1856, the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace provided a much-quoted description of the flavour of the durian:

The five cells are silky-white within, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acidic nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. ... as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed.

Wallace described himself as being at first reluctant to try it because of the aroma, "but in Borneo I found a ripe fruit on the ground, and, eating it out of doors, I at once became a confirmed Durian eater". He cited one traveller from 1599: "it is of such an excellent taste that it surpasses in flavour all other fruits of the world, according to those who have tasted it." He cites another writer: "To those not used to it, it seems at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately after they have tasted it they prefer it to all other food. The natives give it honourable titles, exalt it, and make verses on it." Despite having tried many foods that are arguably more eccentric, Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods, was unable to finish a durian upon sampling it, due to his intolerance of its strong taste.

While Wallace cautions that "the smell of the ripe fruit is certainly at first disagreeable", later descriptions by Westerners are more graphic in detail. Novelist Anthony Burgess writes that eating durian is "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory". Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says:

its odor is best described as pig-excrement, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia.

Other comparisons have been made with the civet, sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray and used surgical swabs. The wide range of descriptions for the odour of durian may have a great deal to do with the variability of durian odour itself. Durians from different species or clones can have significantly different aromas; for example, red durian (D. dulcis) has a deep caramel flavour with a turpentine odour while red-fleshed durian (D. graveolens) emits a fragrance of roasted almonds. Among the varieties of D. zibethinus, Thai varieties are sweeter in flavour and less odorous than Malay ones. The degree of ripeness has an effect on the flavour as well.

In 2019, researchers from the Technical University of Munich identified ethanethiol and its derivatives as a reason for its stinky smell. However, the biochemical pathway by which the plant produces ethanethiol remained unclear such as the enzyme that releases ethanethiol.

The fruit's strong smell led to its ban from the subway in Singapore; it is not used in many hotels because of its pungency.

Raw durian is composed of 65% water, 27% carbohydrates (including 4% dietary fibre), 5% fat and 1% protein. In 100 grams, raw or fresh frozen durian provides 33% of the Daily Value (DV) of thiamine and moderate content of other B vitamins, vitamin C, and the dietary mineral manganese (15–24% DV, table). Different durian varieties from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia vary in their carbohydrate content by 16-29%, fat content by 2-5%, protein content by 2-4%, dietary fibre content by 1-4%, and caloric value by 84-185 kcal per 100 grams. The fatty acid composition of durian flesh is particularly rich in oleic acid and palmitic acid.
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