Durian "the cheese that grows on a tree"

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A tall fruit tree (Durio zibethinus) of the Chocolate family, is found in the East Indian islands with leaves resembling those of the cherry and with large bunches of pale-yellow flowers. Its fruit, called durian or durion, is about the size of a coconut and has a hard thick rind covered with soft spines. The cream-colored meat is flavorsome, but has a bad odor. The fruit contains ten or twelve seeds each as large as a walnut. When roasted the seeds taste like chestnuts. In Indian markets, the durian commands a higher price than any other native fruit. One tree yields about 200 fruit each year.

Grown in the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Thailand, they are seldom exported. The smell of the durian has been described as "sewagelike" or like that of a "rotten onion." According to Alfred Russell Wallace, "It has a rich butterlike custard highly flavored with almonds, but intermingled with wafts of flavor that call to mind cream cheese, onion sauce, brown sherry, and other incongruities." No one is neutral about about this fruit. There are people who like its strong flavor and penetrating aroma and cannot stop eating it once started. There are others, not under its spell, who will not approach within yards of the opened fruit and will steer clear of anyone who has eaten it. Its taste is most like a robust overripe Roquefort.

Raefel Steinberg writes that some airlines in the region specifically forbid passengers to take fresh durian aboard an airplane, and in an airconditioned hotel in the Phillipines he saw a printed notice to the effect that "Firearms and durian fruit are prohibited in the rooms."

This large, globe shaped fruit has a hard, yellow-to-green and heavily spiked shell over a fleshy segregated interior of soft, sweet flesh.

When ripe it has a strong, nauseating odor which makes it a difficult fruit to stock. It is, therefore, rarely available fresh. Even in Malaysia and Indonesia where it is grown, it reaches only selected fruit stands for its two annual seasons. Its flavor is intense and can best be described for its similarity to tropical fruit salad.

Eating it fresh can be an acquired taste. It is used raw in ice cream, desserts and to make candy. it is sometimes fried, cooked in a skin over charcoal or steamed in the same way as breadfruit. A yellowing of the skin indicates the fruit is ripe. Durian lovers are known to open the prickly soccer ball-sized fruit with gusto and dig out with their fingers the sticky yello pulp while telling stories about the durian's supposed aphrodisacal values.

In Sumatra, cooks prepare a chile pepper-hot stock, "Sambal". One version, "Sambal Tempojak" is made from fermented durian fruit, coconut milk, and a collection of spicy ingredients.

Durian is sold in cans or bottles, packed in sugar syrup. Each segment of flesh has one or several large black, shiney seeds which, in Indonesia, are roasted and eaten as snacks. The petals from durian flowers are eaten in the Batak provinces, while in the Moluccas islands the peel is used as fuel to smoke fish.

It is also known as "ambetan", "dooren" (Indonesian), doorian (Malaysia) and "turian" (Thailand, meaning "king of fruit").

=========================> Notes and Credits <==================== "Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia", 1969 by Reader's Digest Books, Inc.

"The People's Almanac" by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1975 ISBN 0-385-04186-1"The Encyclopedia of Asian Food and Cooking", by Jacki Passmore, Hearst Books, 1991 ISBN 0-688-10448-7 "Foods of the World, Pacific and Southwest Asian Cooking", by Rafael Steinberg, Time Life Books, 1972, 70-114231 Researched by Dorothy Hair 5/23/94 Re-U/L to Cooking by Burt Ford.

7/95 Submitted By BURTON FORD On 07-19-95

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