Carmel recently bought me one ($1.99 a kilo), knowing of my taste for them. And it was one of the very best I've ever tried. I don't know exactly which variety it was - Thai, yellow rather than white meat, with large seeds, and ripe before it split (so real Durian connoisseurs should be able to place it). Heavy on the garlic flavour.
The taste is indescribable. Imagine a kilo of Egg Custard, add a tablespoon of pineapple juice, add 1/4 of a cooked apple, half a pureed peach, a single strawberry, a tablespoon of butterscotch, a little each of almond and vanilla essences, then several cloves of garlic. An incredibly complex flavour that defies analysis.
When Carmel bought it, there was no detectable aroma (and she wondered why I gave her warning about the smell). Within 12 hours though, it started to hit peak ripeness, an so started to make its presence felt.
The Smell of Durian is legendary. Most hotels, airlines and so on in Southe East Asia ban the carrying of Durian anywhere near them. When just opened, the smell is puzzling, but not unpleasant. Within 30 minutes or so though, some chemical change occurs, and the atmosphere around it starts to smell something like over-ripe cheese, something like an open sewer, something like smelly socks, and in my opinion, most like a hamster that several weeks ago Went Where All Good Hamsters Go. Though up close, the Durian still smells puzzling, rather than nauseating.
Back to the smell again - from Durian Palace :
Meanwhile in the West, durians have gained a notorious reputation for their unfamiliar and strong aroma, largely as a result of Western travel writers and horticultural writers delighting in using snide phrases like "unbearable stench," "rotten onions with limburger cheese and low-tide seaweed," "French custard passed through a sewer pipe," or "like sitting on the toilet eating your favorite ice cream."It's not helped by the fact that if you have a spoonfull of Durian, you'll still taste it many hours later. Oh yes, and chemicals in it interfere with your heat regulation mechanism, you get hot flushes, as if from a bowl of 5-alarm chilli.
Which brings me to the point : the Durian is the closest thing we have to an Unearthly Fruit. It tastes as if it really should have been grown on a planet circling Epsilon Eridani, or possibly 61 Cygni.