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December 12, 2013
"To eat it seems to be the sacrifice of self-respect," wrote 19th-century American journalist Bayard Taylor.
He was talking about durian.
The fruit that smells so bad that it's banned from hotels and mass transit in parts of Southest Asia. (If you haven't tried it, freeze-dried packs are available online.)
"Yes, I freely admit that when ripe it can smell like a dead animal. Yes, the fruit is difficult to handle, bearing likeness to a medieval weapon. But get down to the pale yellow, creamy flesh, and you'll experience overtones of hazelnut, apricot, caramelized banana and egg custard. That's my attempt at describing durian. But words fail; there is no other fruit like it."
No other fruit like it, indeed.
Recently, working with a mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph, researchers tried to break down exactly why it smells so bad.
The result? A combination of compounds ranging widely, with several of them detected in only a few other substances (cooked beef, dried squid, leeks).
It's the stinky cheese of fruits: love it or hate it.
Have you tried durian?
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