Imagine being in a library with more than 500 people and everyone having to evacuate the building, because someone ate a fruit. Or that you can’t board a flight, because someone was carrying a fruit.
But calm down, those things only happen with him durian.
Thorns and smells
Durian is the fruit of the tree of the genus Durio, a plant of the Malvaceae family, which means that it is a relative of the hibiscus flowers and the plants of cotton.
It is a big fruit, a single durian can weigh up to 3 kg, and has a peculiar appearance: its shell is covered with thorns and precisely its name comes from the Malay word for « thorn ».
Inside that thick rind is the edible part, which is a pulp that has a soft consistency, like custard, and that has a color that ranges from pale yellow to red, depending on the species.
Around ten edible species of the genus Durio are known, all originating from the southeast asia, but although they may be different in size or color, they all have an indescribable common, but awful smell.
The smell of durian seems to be indescribable: some say it is like old vomit, or dirty socks, or stale onions, or fermented garbage.
What seems common is that it is not a very pleasant smell, that besides everything it is persistent, for that reason durian is prohibited in many places: in Japan, Thailand and Singapore Eating or transporting this fruit is prohibited while traveling by public transport.
The hotels in Singapore they impose a fine on guests who eat durian in their rooms. And it is common to see signs of prohibition of the fruit, in public spaces.
One might wonder why someone would eat something so unpleasant in the first place, but it seems that the taste of the pulp does not quite correspond to the aroma.
The English Naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, contemporary of Charles Darwin, described the taste of durian as incongruous:
« A thick custard flavored with almonds gives an idea, but there are occasional bursts of flavor that are reminiscent of cream cheese, onion sauce, sherry and other incongruous dishes. »
The smells of anything come from Volatile compounds: substances that have molecules that easily escape and can fly to our noses, where we have receptors to perceive them.
And the compounds that give things the smell are sometimes different from those that give them the flavor, so perhaps the taste of durian is not as horrible as its aroma. I said « so horrible » because a lot of people don’t like the way it tastes anyway. Especially after having smelled it.
Through chemical analysis It has been possible to identify that in durian there are a large amount of organic sulfur compounds, called thiols, which explain the horrible aroma.
So we know that it contains methanethiol, which gives its smell to rotten cabbages; or ethanethiol, which smells like rancid onions, among many other thiols that have odors, ranging from unpleasant to horrible.
So you know, even if it is healthy to eat fruits, surely you have other options closer to you and less stinky.