When you think of fruit, you imagine what they are – a colorful orb of juicy sweetness with no power to do much of any thing. In fact, very powerless as you are about to thoroughly consume it. You pick them or buy them, they sit in a bowl on the table and you eat them. They have no will, no control, no power of their own. When I eat berries, I just pick and pop them in my mouth – powerless little bumpy nuggets. But not so with the fruit called The King of Fruits, the most powerful durian.
It took me a while to know the full power of the durian. Though I’m not sure I’ve been seduced by this fruit as much as some. Before we bought this land, the owner took us on a tour and pointed up towards the durian trees and said that they were $3.50 a pound and were the only fruit tigers would eat. Elephants are fed them whole, passed through their digestive tracts and fetched from their dung for exorbitant prices. He explained, how in Thailand, you could not bring them on the bus or in your hotel room because they had a strong smell and stunk. A fruit could even fall off the tree and kill a man. I had never heard of such a thing. Gazing up at these 60-90 foot trees in fascination.
Durians are an enigma. Some people can’t stand them at all. they don’t want to see them, smell them or taste them. I always tell people who hate durians, they only smell bad if you don’t like them, to people who love them, they smell like the best thing ever.
One morning on my farm at 7 a.m., a man came running up to me out of breath asking me if I had a durian. The word caught on and before you know it people were arriving at my farm, before I even had coffee, to inquire about durians. Do you have any durians? Did any drop last night? How would I know, I’m half asleep! Soon, I would send them down to the trees and look for themselves. If they wanted one at 7 a.m. they were going to go get it, not me.
People will tell fibs to see a durian tree. They will spend their rent money on durian and eat nothing but durian; spending their whole food budget on them. Durian addicts will pay $50 for one fruit. They will sleep In the same room with them, smelling them in their dreams. I’ve heard of people stealing durian. People will ignore bad dog signs, no trespassing signs, farmer’s with pitch forks to get to a durian. I have gained and lost friends over this fruit.
This fruit is a marvel of nature. What other fruit could do this to people? What is it about them that makes them so desirable? Is it their taste? The rarity of them? Their cost?
Most people will ask, “What does it taste like?” I always say, “It tastes like nothing you have ever eaten before.” If I had to try, I’d say it can taste like garlic, onions, maple syrup, bananas, custard, cream, and/or ripe breadfruit. The only fruit I know they are related to is the Chupa-Chupa also in the Bombacaceae family. The Chupa-Chupa which means suck-suck, tastes like a cantaloupe but it grows on a tree.
A lot of people feel that durians give you a niacin rush; making your head feel warm and giving you the giggles. It is also, one of the fruits, considered to be an aphrodisiac. Each fruit does contain many nutrients and is said to be quite good for you. A fountain of youth in a pokey, wooden carapace.
If you’ve never tried a durian, you might want to seek one out. In Hawaii, you might run into them at a farmer’s market or perhaps a neighbor with a tree. Try an Asian market. They often have some frozen and depending on your location fresh. Maybe your best friend may show up one day with a durian on your birthday.
Perhaps the power of this fruit is that people want to have something special and share that with their friends. Something that isn’t so easy to get and costs a lot. Durians are definitely that fruit. Whatever it is that the durian has over other fruits, maybe one will never know exactly. I do know this, it is very powerful and capable of making people behave like no other fruit could ever do. Don’t be surprised if your experience with a durian will be magical, full of energy and something you never forget.