Many people have been emailing me about the picture of the red and yellow fleshed durians I posted on our facebook page while we were in the Philippines. So this post is dedicated to durio graveolens. I can't wait to taste them again in Borneo!
Durio graveolens is entirely different species than the typically cultivated durio zibethinus. I thought graveolens only occurred naturally in Borneo, but Dr. Loquias told us that there are several varieties endemic to Palawan, the Filipine island where he collected his samples. I later read that graveolens can sometimes be found in peninsular Malaysia around Terrenganu, as well as on some islands of Indonesia and even southern Thailand, where it is called Thurian-rakka.
If the odor of normal durian is considered nauseating, graveolens takes it up a notch to projectile vomit. Through the nose. I actually like the smell of durian, but even so the scent wafting out of the durian orchard that day was overwhelming. Like an overheated dumpster in New York, sprinkled with powdered sugar and doused in cheddar cheese. Literally translated, durio graveolen actually means "the smelly durian". That's saying something!
In Borneo, durio graveolens has so many names it can get really confusing. Sometimes it's simply called durian merah, red durian, which is in my opinion a useless identifier as many other species and varieties also have red flesh, and some graveolens have orange or yellow flesh. Here are a few more common names: Alau, Dujen, Durian alau, Durian angang, Durian daun dungoh, Durian hutan, Durian pipit, Lai bengang, Merang kunyit, Pasang, Tabela, Taula, Tongkai. Each species of durian has a similarly long list of colloquial titles - I'm going to have to carry a notebook with lists of names just to know which durian people are talking about!
He had two other graveolens in his orchard, an orange and a yellow fleshed one. Both were amazing, although we agreed the yellow-fleshed one was creamier and smoother. The flesh is extremely thick and slightly waxy, like the texture of cheddar cheese, while it tasted like bubblegum rolled in blue cheese. I liked it, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the density and flavor. By the time we were full, all three of us had a bright orange coating of waxy flesh on our lips.
Tomorrow we go to Sabah, and will be hitting Kalimantan in November and Sarawak in December for their durian season! I look forward to tasting some of the various graveolens varieties, as well as some of the other species we hope to find in Kalimantan and Sabah, such as durio dulcis, the sweetest of the durians.
Have you tasted durio graveolens? Would you buy it at your local durian shop?
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