The Durian Affair
The phenomenal love-hate affair with the thorny "King of fruits" - a never ending debate...
Those who love it hail it as the "King of fruits", while others who hate it simply cower at the mere mention of its name as it brings up images of sticky socks or worse for them. What is it about one fruit that can invoke such strong feelings from both sides of the spectrum? In case you do not know I am talking about, it is the durian - a fruit encased in a thorny husk, in a shade of green or yellowish green, with a very pungent aroma to some and odor to others and commonly find in parts of Southeast Asia like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, to name a few.
The durian alone has over 30 varieties of this fruit. Each variety has its own unique taste and loyal 'fans'. The inhabitants of Southeast Asia are so in love with this fruit that they have managed to concoct a variety of products made from durian - ice-cream, cakes, jelly, cream puffs, log cakes are but just a few out of a vast ocean of concoctions available. They have also invented interesting ways of eating the durian by: frying, fermenting, making it into a paste and even eating it with rice!
Being a seasonal fruit, the period for durians in countries like Singapore and Malaysia is around June to August. For instance in Singapore, the prices for some highly sought after varieties of durians - D24, Sultan, and Mao Shan Wang - are priced between S$8 to S$15 (approximately US$5 to US$10) per kilogram. Considering that the average weight for one durian is about 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), there are Singaporeans who are willing to pay a pretty hefty price of up to around S$75 (US$50) for about half a dozen of this wondrous fruit in a single purchase.
This "King of fruits" has a unique odor which has provoked many (who hate the fruit) to formulate evocative descriptions, ranging from deep appreciation to intense disgust. For those who simply adore love this "King of fruits", they describe it as heavenly and fragrant. And for those who dislike the fruit, akin its fragrance to sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray and even used surgical swab, are among many of the available descriptors.
Due to its overpowering smell, this potent fruit is banned on train transportation systems and hotels (in Singapore) as the smell tends to linger on even after the fruit has left the area. However, this "King of fruits" has gained somewhat of an iconic reputation, being referenced to or parodied in a variety of cultural mediums from comics to computer games.
As the durian is a common food in Southeast Asia, it is often portrayed in the local media according to the different culture perception each region has. For example, the nickname "Durian King" was used for the protagonist, played by Adrian Pang, in a Singaporean TV comedy. "The Durian" is also what Singaporeans call an oddly shaped building called the Esplanade, which truly resembles it fruit counterpart with its jagged corners.