Sarikei Durians - wild durians (left); commercial durians (right)
What the heck is a durian that is loved to death by most S.E. Asians & loathed by most Westerners & North Asians? We have to politely tell them that it is an acquired taste (i.e. they do not know what they are missing!).Well, it's a thorny issue.
Duri is the Malay word for spike. In the genus of durio, there are 27 species (19 are indigenous to Borneo, 11 to West Malaysia, 7 to Sumatra). Of the 27 species, only 7 species are edible & hundreds of varieties have been selectively bred from these 7 species for different aroma, texture & flavour. The meat tastes like an alcoholic banana pudding with an amazing array of fragrance, composition & essence (or pungent hell for those who abhors it). Can you die from eating durians with alcohol? Myth? It's not scientifically proven but don't try it at home.
Its tree grows up to 150 feet. Its flowers are pollinated by moths & small bats. It bears fruit twice a year around June & December. The village kids love to hear the "thud" sound of a ripe fruit doing the free fall & race off to find the fruit. The urban folks can't wait for the lorries to bring in the durians & the hawkers who shout bau chiat (guaranteed to be edible in Hokkien - i.e. they will open the fruit to prove that it's ripe). The tribal natives often collect wild durians to sell in the markets. You don't have to a durian connoisseur to enjoy wild durians. It's simply heaven.