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Diablo Durian ? ? ?

If you haven't tasted them you've probably seen them and certainly smelled them! This is the fruit which can cause ecstatic, gastronomic passion for some and vehement opposition from others to the point of heated argument. There WILL be heated argument should you try to smuggle one into your hotel room or on board your flight! This is the DURIAN! Diablo or Demi-God???

I tasted my first durian in Malaysia (from whence the fruit originated). As the smiling Malay split open the shell, he gave me a knowing look and whispered, "When the durians fall down, the sarongs go up". Such was my introduction to this foul smelling, yucky looking, heavenly tasting fruit. As to its aphrodisiac properties, they shall have to remain secret until you try it for yourself!

Now grown throughout Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, as a fruit the durian is large and has a thick, greenish- brown, spike studded skin. Such spikes can be damaging to human flesh (just like a mace head of medieval times) so a special "Catching sling" is used during harvesting when the ripe fruit is tossed down from treetop level to the catcher below. Sold by the kilo weight, the leather gauntleted fruit seller will tap the hard skin with a small stick. The sound tells him (and you) if the durian is "just right". Then, with a sharp knife, he will penetrate end split the shell apart to reveal a white inner pith in which nestles five yellowish segments of durian flesh. At this point, the aroma emanating from the split durian is APPALLING and first timers are ready to run a mile. The smell is something of wild garlic, crushed underfoot, crossed with a rotting carcass. But, rather than run, hold your breath and try those delicious, yellow morsels.

The durian flesh is smooth to the tongue; almost chocolate-like in its texture, consistency and comfort to the palate though very different in flavor. There's a velvety custard, sweetness with hints of matured Brie cheese and good Port wine or was it Camembert and Amaretto I'm never quite sure so perhaps I'll have to try another portion and guess again!

So Thai durian love it or leave it (most love it) is now in season and on sale from fruit markets or road side vendors. Persuade yourself to give it a try because you'll not find it back home in Orange County, Brooklyn, Dortmund or Scunthorpe! Give yourself a taste treat, a taste sensation! Be a little French (who know about such things), be a little Thai (who confirm such things). With spoon or fingers, lift those succulent, yellow segments and slurp them slowly. And if you're upwind of the durian, you'll not even notice the aroma! ENJOY!

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