Let Us Now Praise Stinky Foods: Durian


A durian on a woman’s lap in the Singapore bus is a time bomb waiting to go off. Fellow passengers look upon the rider with both envy and fear. If the bus jolts and the thing flies into the air, it might land with an impact that could rupture the armor, and send waves of vomitous stink coursing through the vehicle.

Durian is the fruit of Durio zibethinus, a plant that originated in tropical Asia. It has an armor plated appearance, with spikes sticking every which-way. When ripe, the flesh is pale and creamy, and studded with big oval black seeds. Some have described the smell as nauseating, yet once the fruit is in the mouth, the flavor seems completely inoffensive. It shows how the mouth and nose are prone to play tricks on each other.

Durians are readily available in the vegetable stands and supermarkets of area Chinatowns, and a walk down Mott Street north of Canal, or Main Street in Flushing, will provide several opportunities to acquire the fruit, which is often used in pastries and ice cream, as well.

See the entire catalog of stinky foods.

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