AskDefine | Define durian

Dictionary Definition

durian

Noun

1 tree of southeastern Asia having edible oval fruit with a hard spiny rind [syn: durion, durian tree, Durio zibethinus]
2 huge fruit native to southeastern Asia `smelling like Hell and tasting like Heaven'; seeds are roasted and eaten like nuts

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From Malay durian

Noun

  1. Any of several trees, genus Durio, of southeast Asia.
  2. The spiky edible fruit of this tree.

Translations

fruit

Indonesian

Etymology

From the noun duri

Noun

durian

Extensive Definition

The durian () is the fruit of trees of the genus Durio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows and linden trees. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits," the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow up to long and in diameter, and typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lbs). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale-yellow to red, depending on the species.
The hard outer husk is covered with sharp, prickly thorns while the edible flesh within emits a distinctive odour, which is regarded as either fragrant or overpowering and offensive. The odour of the ripe fruit is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Due to the unusual odour, the durian is forbidden from certain establishments such as hotels and public transportations in Southeast Asia. The odour has prompted many people to formulate evocative descriptions with views ranging from those of deep appreciation to intense disgust.
The durian, native to Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, has been known to the western world for about 600 years. The British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as "a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds" in the 19th century. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness and is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked. The name durian comes from the Malay word duri (thorn) together with the suffix -an.
There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market; other species are sold in their local regions. There are hundreds of durian cultivars; most of them have a common name and a code number starting with "D". Many consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.

Species

The name durian comes from the Malay word duri (thorn) together with the suffix -an (for building a noun in Malay). D. zibethinus is the only species commercially cultivated on a large scale and available outside of its native region. Since this species is open-pollinated, it shows considerable diversity in fruit colour and odour, size of flesh and seed, and tree phenology. In the species name, zibethinus refers to the Indian civet, Viverra zibetha. There is disagreement regarding whether this name, bestowed by Linnaeus, refers to civets being so fond of the durian that the fruit was used as bait to entrap them, or to the durian smelling like the civet.
Durian flowers are large and feathery with copious nectar, and give off a heavy, sour and buttery odour. These features are typical of flowers pollinated by certain species of bats that eat nectar and pollen. According to research conducted in Malaysia in the 1970s, durians were pollinated almost exclusively by cave fruit bats (Eonycteris spelaea).

Cultivars

Over the centuries, numerous durian cultivars propagated by vegetative clones have arisen in southeast Asia. They used to be grown with mixed results from seeds of trees bearing superior quality fruit, but are now propagated by layering, marcotting, or more commonly, by grafting, including bud, veneer, wedge, whip or U-grafting onto seedlings of randomly selected rootstocks. Different cultivars can be distinguished to some extent by variations in the fruit shape, such as the shape of the spines. and many superior cultivars have been identified through competitions held at the annual Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism Show. In Vietnam, the same process has been done through competitions held by the Southern Fruit Research Institute.
In recent times, Songpol Somsri, a Thai government scientist, crossbred more than ninety varieties of durian to create Chantaburi No. 1, a cultivar without the characteristic odour, which is awaiting final approval from the local Ministry of Agriculture. Another hybrid, Chantaburi No. 3, develops the odour about three days after the fruit is picked, which enables an odourless transport and satisfies consumers who prefer the pungent odour.
Although the durian is not native to Thailand, the country is currently one of the major exporters of durians, growing of the world's total harvest of in 1999, exporting . China is the major importer, purchasing in 1999, followed by Singapore with and Taiwan with . In the same year, the United States imported , mostly frozen, and the European Community imported .
The durian is a seasonal fruit, unlike some other non-seasonal tropical fruits such as the papaya which are available throughout the year. In Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, the season for durians is typically from June to August, which coincides with that of the mangosteen. With an average weight of about , a durian fruit would therefore set the consumer back by about S$12 to S$22 (US$8 to US$15). Many consumers in Singapore are nevertheless quite willing to spend up to around S$75 (US$50) in a single purchase of about half a dozen of the favoured fruit to be shared by family members.}}
While Wallace cautions that "the smell of the ripe fruit is certainly at first disagreeable", later descriptions by westerners are more graphic. British novelist Anthony Burgess writes that eating durian is "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory." Chef Andrew Zimmern compares the taste to "completely rotten, mushy onions." Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says: Other comparisons have been made with the civet, sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray and used surgical swabs. The wide range of descriptions for the odour of durian may have a great deal to do with the variability of durian odour itself. Durians from different species or clones can have significantly different aromas; for example, red durian (D. dulcis) has a deep caramel flavour with a turpentine odour while red-fleshed durian (D. graveolens) emits a fragrance of roasted almonds. Among the varieties of D. zibethinus, Thai varieties are sweeter in flavour and less odourous than Malay ones. The thorny, armoured covering of the fruit discourages smaller animals; larger animals are more likely to transport the seeds far from the parent tree.

Ripeness and selection

According to Larousse Gastronomique, the durian fruit is ready to eat when its husk begins to crack. However, the ideal stage of ripeness to be enjoyed varies from region to region in Southeast Asia and by species. Some species grow so tall that they can only be collected once they have fallen to the ground, whereas most cultivars of D. zibethinus are nearly always cut from the tree and allowed to ripen while waiting to be sold. Some people in southern Thailand prefer their durians relatively young when the clusters of fruit within the shell are still crisp in texture and mild in flavour. In northern Thailand, the preference is for the fruit to be as soft and pungent in aroma as possible. In Malaysia and Singapore, most consumers prefer the fruit to be quite ripe and may even risk allowing the fruit to continue ripening after its husk has already cracked open. In this state, the flesh becomes richly creamy, slightly alcoholic, The usual advice for a durian consumer choosing a whole fruit in the market is to examine the quality of the stem or stalk which loses moisture as it ages: a big, solid stem is a sign of freshness. Reportedly, unscrupulous merchants wrap, paint, or remove the stalks altogether. Another frequent piece of advice is to shake the fruit and listen for the sound of the seeds moving within, indicating the durian is very ripe and the pulp has dried out a bit. In the eighteenth century, Johann Anton Weinmann considered the durian to belong to Castaneae as its fruit was similar to the horse chestnut.
D. zibethinus was introduced into Ceylon by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century and was reintroduced many times later. It has been planted in the Americas but confined to botanical gardens. The first seedlings were sent from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to Auguste Saint-Arromen of Dominica in 1884.
In southeast Asia the durian has been cultivated for centuries at the village level, probably since the late eighteenth century, and commercially in south-eastern Asia since the mid-twentieth century.
In 1949, the British botanist E. J. H. Corner published The Durian Theory, or the Origin of the Modern Tree. His idea was that endozoochory (the enticement of animals to transport seeds in their stomach) arose before any other method of seed dispersal, and that primitive ancestors of Durio species were the earliest practitioners of that strategy, especially the red durian fruit exemplifying the primitive fruit of flowering plants.
Since the early 1990s, the domestic and international demand for durian in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region has increased dramatically, partly due to the increasing affluence in Asia. Red-fleshed durian is traditionally added to sayur, an Indonesian soup made from fresh water fish. Ikan brengkes is fish cooked in a durian-based sauce, traditional in Sumatra. Tempoyak refers to fermented durian, usually made from lower quality durian that is unsuitable for direct consumption. Tempoyak can be eaten either cooked or uncooked, is normally eaten with rice, and can also be used for making curry. Sambal Tempoyak is a Sumatran dish made from the fermented durian fruit, coconut milk, and a collection of spicy ingredients known as sambal.
In Thailand, blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets, though much of the paste is adulterated with pumpkin. Young leaves and shoots of the durian are occasionally cooked as greens. Sometimes the ash of the burned rind is added to special cakes.

Nutritional and medicinal

Durian fruit contains a high amount of sugar, and is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. while others classify it as a high-glycemic or high-fat food, recommending to minimise its consumption. Discover magazine reported an incident where a woman with preexisting renal failure ate a durian and ended up critically ill from potassium overdose.
In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves and roots used to be prescribed as an antipyretic. The leaf juice is applied on the head of a fever patient.
In the 1920s, Durian Fruit Products, Inc., of New York City launched a product called "Dur-India" as a health food supplement, selling at US$9 for a dozen bottles, each containing 63 tablets. The tablets allegedly contained durian and a species of the genus Allium from India and vitamin E. The company promoted the supplement saying that they provide "more concentrated healthful energy in food form than any other product the world affords". The traditional method to counteract this is to pour water into the empty shell of the fruit after the pulp has been consumed and drink it.
Another common local belief is that the durian is harmful when eaten with coffee The warnings against the supposed lecherous quality of this fruit soon spread to the West—the Swedenborgian philosopher Herman Vetterling commented on so-called "erotic properties" of the durian in the early 20th century.
A durian falling on a person's head can cause serious injuries because it is heavy, armed with sharp thorns, and can fall from a significant height. Wearing a hardhat is recommended when collecting the fruit. Alfred Russel Wallace writes that death rarely ensues from it, because the copious effusion of blood prevents the inflammation which might otherwise take place. A saying in Indonesian, ketiban durian runtuh, which translates to "getting a fallen durian", means receiving an unexpected luck or fortune. Nevertheless, signs warning people not to linger under durian trees are found in Indonesia.
A naturally spineless variety of durian growing wild in Davao, Philippines, was discovered in the 1960s; fruits borne from these seeds were also spineless. Due to its unusual characteristics, the durian has been referenced or parodied in various cultural mediums. To foreigners the durian is often perceived as a symbol of revulsion, as it can be seen in Dodoria, one of the villains in the Japanese anime Dragon Ball Z. Dodoria, whose name has been derived from the durian, was given a brutal appearance and a sinister role. In the Castlevania videogame series, "Rotten Durian" is an item that removes 500 HP from the character if consumed; its in-game description reads "Has introduced you to a whole new world of unpleasant odors." The game Super Mario Sunshine includes several minigames where one must throw fruit into baskets. The durian is unique among the fruit, in that it cannot be picked up because of its spiny exterior and instead must be kicked like a soccer ball into the basket. The role-playing game, Tales of Destiny includes the durian (spelt Dorian by translators) as part of the edible food list. While fairly expensive and filling, the fruit, when consumed, also comes with an additional benefit of reducing random encounters by repelling monsters, presumably with its smell. The fruit was featured in the video game Madagascar where the main character battles the final boss that spews out debilitating durian breaths, with durians also used as projectile weapons.
In its native southeastern Asia, however, the durian is an everyday food and portrayed in the local media in accordance with the different cultural perception it has in the region. The durian symbolised the subjective nature of ugliness and beauty in Hong Kong director Fruit Chan's 2000 film Durian Durian (榴槤飄飄, Liulian piao piao), and was a nickname for the reckless but lovable protagonist of the eponymous Singaporean TV comedy Durian King played by Adrian Pang. Likewise, the oddly shaped Esplanade building in Singapore is often called "The Durian" by locals,
One of the names Thailand contributed to the list of storm names for Western North Pacific tropical cyclones was 'Durian', which was retired after the second storm of this name in 2006. Being a fruit much loved by a variety of wild beasts, the durian sometimes signifies the long-forgotten animalistic aspect of humans, as in the legend of Orang Mawas, the Malaysian version of Bigfoot, and Orang Pendek, its Sumatran version, both of which have been claimed to feast on durians.

Notes

durian in Arabic: دريان
durian in Bulgarian: Дуриан
durian in Czech: Durian
durian in Danish: Durian
durian in German: Durian
durian in Esperanto: Durio
durian in French: Durian
durian in Korean: 두리안
durian in Indonesian: Durian
durian in Italian: Durian
durian in Hebrew: דוריאן
durian in Javanese: Durèn
durian in Georgian: დურიო
durian in Lithuanian: Durijus
durian in Malay (macrolanguage): Pokok Durian
durian in Dutch: Doerian
durian in Japanese: ドリアン
durian in Polish: Durian
durian in Finnish: Durio
durian in Swedish: Durian
durian in Thai: ทุเรียน
durian in Vietnamese: Sầu riêng
durian in Turkish: Durian
durian in Chinese: 榴槤
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