What do you think of durian fruit?

Dr. Greger, have you ever eaten a durian fruit? They are so fascinating, though I’ve never seen a real one.

Kevin McCaffrey / Originally posted on the NutritionFacts.org Facebook page


Durians have to be the most badass of fruits. Imagine a 5 pound football covered in sharp spikes like some medieval mace. What other fruit can be described in the literature as causing “severe bodily injury” in articles with titles like Penetrating Ocular Injury by Durian Fruit? And we haven’t even gotten to the distinctive quality, the smell! With an odor perhaps best described as “pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock,” durian fruits are banned from many public spaces such as subways and airports in Southeast Asia where it is grown. I just had to get me some.

My big break came when I moved to Boston to attend medschool at Tufts, right smack in Chinatown. They were sold frozen. (I would soon realize why.) I hacked off a piece; it tasted like a caramelized onion popsicle. I left the rest in my locker—mistake!

I arrived the next day at school to find an entire floor of the medical center (including the dean’s office) cordoned off. They were going locker to locker, cutting off all the locks, searching in vain for the cause of a stench so overpowering you couldn’t even locate it. It was like a fog of stink.  They seriously thought someone was stealing body parts from gross anatomy lab. And then it struck me. Uh oh. The durian had thawed. When I realized it was all my fault, I crawled to the dean and I’ll never forget what he said: “Why am I not surprised you had something to do with this.”

More on my medical school trials and tribulations in my book Heart Failure: Diary of a Third Year Medical Student.

Image Credit: smallislander / Flickr

  • Shian

    Durian tastes fantastic here in Singapore!

  • Easter Cat

    I had durian and not only did it smell, it also tasted awful.

  • I found several at the local supermarket in Adelaide and tentatively sniffed it – it ‘smelled like a fruit’.Maybe it wasn’t …erm… ‘ripe’? A friend managed to cause a gas leak scare evacuation of a multi story office building with her lunch however.

  • Mark

    Great description of the look and smell of Durian lol! And very funny story too.

  • FruitZen

    I love durian! That can’t be a true story… I think it smells amazing.

  • Hilarious story! I’m an American with well over a decade of life in Indonesia and still find eating durian a bit difficult. That being said, the rich, creamy and super-soft texture of ripe durian reminds me slightly of ripe avocados, and I can see why it’s so coveted by the Asian public.

    For those who are stuck with merely the china supermarket frozen variety, there are many different varieties with as many odoriferous qualities. All of which, if ripe and ingested, have left me in a near heaving state. I have, however, over time actually gained an appreciation for its pungent odor; actually smells quite palatable, but that’s where the affair ends. Try and try as I might, to get a fully-ripened ‘bangkok’ variety past my palatoglossal arch is near impossible!

  • Alicia

    Durian is a fruit that you either like it or hate it.
    It’s to a personal’s taste really. :)

  • Fresh durian off the tree aint so bad; sweet, creamy with a bit of a garlicky taste

  • Sebastian Tristan

    What about health wise? Is it good, bad or neither?

  • Joe Caner

    I don’t like durian. I love it. It’s creamy sweet with a custardy consistency. It can be readily found in So Cal in the freezer section of Asian grocery markets for $1.5 – $3 per pound which is spendy because most of the weight consists of an inedible, spiny husk. I am more than happy to pay that price because it’s considerably cheaper than plane fare to Thailand. I usually have one waiting in the freezer.
    It is my experience that meat consumption seems to negative correlate to an affinity for the taste of durian while most vegetarians and vegans who are introduced enjoy its flavor. As Dr. Greger alluded to in his story, keeping durian well chilled helps neutralizes its strong odor.

  • Wade Patton

    Found one frozen just the other day. Oh boy.