Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for everyone: As I go about putting different fruits on the list of future nutrition facts articles, I usually go through and select ones that I either know of from personal experience or have otherwise heard of at some point in time. Today’s spotlighted fruit, the durian, is not a fruit I’d otherwise know about if not for the game Super Mario Sunshine where you’re tasked with kicking durians around in a few areas of the main hub world. Yes, it’s a strange connection, but now I want to know if there’s something to this fruit, so let’s take a look at the durian and find out together!
Durian Culture and History
Okay, we’re heading back to prehistoric times once more, this time in Asia. This is where we find the origin of the durian as they were consumed regularly by the people of the time, though the rest of the world (read: the western world) wouldn’t learn anything about them until roughly 600 years ago, perhaps because we’re just lazy like that.
Niccolo Da Conti gives us the first European reference to the fruits in his writings back in the 15th century when he travelled to Asia, though it wasn’t anything groundbreaking. The real useful writing would come from a German man named Georg Eberhard Rumphius as he gave the most detailed information for durians for nearly a century. So, yes, it really does seem like the western world was too lazy to really care about the durian until…actually I’m not sure they do even to this day.
Asia, however, has done well in respecting the durian, particularly southeastern Asia. Since the 18th century the people there have been growing durians on a village level, eventually going commercial in the mid-20th century. In today’s world, the durian is getting more traction as Asia is becoming a more popular driving force, influencing other nations and such. Could we eventually start getting durians in the US? Well, perhaps one day!
The more I look into the durian, the more I like it. It is commonly known as “The King of the Fruits,” which is certainly an impressive title. Apparently because durians are very much loved by animals as well as humans, it suggests a sort of animalistic return to glory when we eat them, which is a theory I can stand behind once more. I’m just fascinated to learn that in much of the rest of the world, durians are as well-known as apples. Man we’re missing out!
Health Benefits of Durians
So with a reputation as strong as the durian, there’s bound to be some real benefits to them. Naturally, being a fruit, durians have a high content of vitamin C, so I’m not completely in foreign territory. Plus, they’re very sweet and have a lot of natural sugars, which means they are great for providing energy without the follow-up sugar crash you’d expect. Always a good thing!
You’ll find quite a lot of the typical minerals like manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium, so nothing it getting left out, plus tons of fiber, making them function as a helpful laxative if you’re really in a pinch. Oh, and B vitamins, because B vitamins love to be in everything. Essentially, they’re good for you, as you’d expect, and even have some natural fats needed for keeping your weight in check and your brain quite happy.
But there is a darker side to durians. Well, slightly darker at least. Beyond just having painfully sharp spines, durians have a handful of folk warnings, such as the belief that you should never d rink alcohol after eating durians or that if you don’t drink water after eating a durian, you may become flush with heat. Part of this may be due to the sulphur content of durians, but studies haven’t been able to prove anything one way or another.
With durians, the most you typically have to worry about are the spines, which can draw blood if you’re not careful. However, it’s extremely rare that they’ll fall on someone and do much harm. There’s an old saying that durians have eyes and can see where they’re falling, which is why you apparently never see them fall during the daylight. Therefore, the phrase “getting a fallen durian” means something like “receiving unexpected luck or good fortune.” The more I hear, the more I like!
Eating More Durians
Seeing as how they’re so popular, I’d expect to just discover a glut of wonderful durian recipes. I was not disappointed! I’m seeing recipes for durian pancakes, durian donuts, durian ice cream, durian cake, durian smoothies, durian cream puffs, durian popsicles, durian tiramisu, durian- hey wait a minute, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that durians were a dessert food… I’m okay with that!
Rather frequently, durians are just eaten raw. Nice and fresh is how fruits just work, right? Especially here as one durian is large enough to nearly be a meal all by itself. The meat of a durian is well loved and very simple to eat by hand, though breaking through the spiky outer shell may prove to be a bit tricky without the proper tools. Still, well worth it if you have a knife or hatchet or something.
I have been woefully ignorant of the durian until this moment in time, but I wish to rectify my mistake as soon as possible. Perhaps it’s time for me to seek out the great and powerful durian before it’s too late! While I do that, I need to hear from durian fans! How do you prepare them? Are you a fan of then raw or is there a favorite dessert you like to concoct? Leave a comment and let me know! Just be careful to wear a hard hat if you’re thinking of plucking them fresh from the tree!