Would You Pay US$1,000 For A Durian?

The smell of success is sweeter than we think.
Wednesday 30 January 2019
The King Of Fruits is reportedly going for US$1,000 a pop in West Java, Indonesia. Photo: iStock

Forking out money for a J-Queen durian will have your wallet bleeding, and it wouldn’t be because of its thorny exterior. Kompas recently reported that the Plaza Asia shopping center in the West Java city of Tasikmalaya is selling the unique variety of durian for US$1,000 apiece – dozens of times more expensive than a regular, run-of-the-mill supermarket version.

Images on social media show the fruit on sale in the mall, presented nestling on a bed of red satin, under a protective perspex case.

The spiky fruit isn’t the most obvious candidate for the high-flying, luxury treatment.

While its flavour and creamy texture has made it popular throughout Southeast Asia, its strong odor has gained it many detractors.

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Creamy, pungent, and some say akin to sweaty socks or rotten food. Photo: iStock

Singapore has banned the fruit in its subway system, and many hotels in the region ban durians because of the notorious smell, which some critics have likened to rotten food or dirty socks.

Indeed, even the people of Indonesia, who hail it as the “King of Fruit” have been known to falter at its scent.

Last year, a cargo of durian caused an Indonesian plane to be temporarily grounded after passengers complained about the fruit’s room-clearing stench in the cabin.

J-Queen is a new variety

The J-Queen is a new durian hybrid, bred from several high quality varieties, according to its creator, a 32-year-old psychology student named Aka from the Indonesian Islamic University (UII) in Yogyakarta.

The Tasikmalaya native says that his durian is so sought after — and pricey — because its tree only produces 20 fruit, every three years.

He says he’s the sole owner of the variety, and hasn’t shared the seeds with anyone.

The spiky, pungent fruit is divisive at the best of times but Kompas reports that, in addition to its rarity, the taste of this particular durian is quite unique — a blend of peanuts and the flavor of butter.

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The J-Queen durian hybrid is supposedly yellow-gold and buttery. Photo: CNN International

The durian itself is perfectly round, unlike its elongated cousins. When its forbidding outer shell is breached, it has round fruit, not the usual oval shape. The fruit is also yellow-gold in color, in contrast to the pale, custardy shade of most durians.

Aka says that his motives for producing this durian hybrid, which costs several times that of an Indonesian’s average wage — around US$183 a month, according to economic data firm CEIC Data — are altruistic.

“My intention is to improve the welfare of farmers by creating superior durians. I have had durian gardens in Kendal, Pekalongan, Banyumas, Pangandaran, and Gunung Tanjung, Manonjaya, Tasikmalaya,” he said.

So are the fruits, surely to be considered the gold standard of the durian world, flying off the shelves?

A representative of the Plaza Asia shopping center told Coconuts Jakarta that two of the four durians they had brought in have already been sold, and the remaining two have been given a Chinese New Year packaging makeover and are expected to go soon.

Source:Euan McKirdy/CNN International