Can senses be over-educated?

Reader Chris from Down Under writes:

So Joe… taste and smell go hand in nose. So you say… so explain: the delicious durian! There’s a smell you don’t want to taste…

All I can say, Chris, is that if you doubt the human capacity to “educate one’s taste buds”, witness the durian. I’ve only seen these things in New York City markets but have never had the courage to open one. Just how smelly are they? If you have a strong stomach you can have a look at this nasty video from the good folks at Brainiac. Now THAT’s science!

4 thoughts on “Can senses be over-educated?”

  1. Now imagine someone making wine from Durian! Saw one at a competition a couple weeks ago. Surprisingly, it didn’t smell as bad as the fruit does on its own. Neither did it taste as good. However, one thing was the same. Twenty minutes after sniffing the stuff a weird, dirty, wet-dog scent seemed bonded to the insides of my sinuses. The wine bouquet had serious hang time!

    1. Holy mother of…wow.

      Do they provide smelling salts at the tastings instead of the traditional gougeres and baguette slices?

  2. Ah durian. Once you smell it, you’ll never forget the odor. Yes, odor as in foul, not ‘smell’ which has a much nicer connotation. But if one likes the fruit, they really like it.

    In fact, I just flew back from Thailand a couple of days ago and I swear, some person was either carrying pealed durian on the plan (which is a real no-no, or the person took a bath in it and the juice was clinging to their skin. Thankfully, that person was not sitting in close proximity — I would only get whiffs now and then.

    Fresh durian in not allowed to be consumed in closed spaces. It is relegated to outdoor consumption. Yes, it is that malodorous.

    A good way to wade into this unique fruit is to try durian ice cream. The smell is not there to whack you and it gives a good representation of the flavor. The fresh fruit is very creamy in texture but it’s a real tug of war between what your palate is experiencing and what your nose is smelling.

    Sometimes the palate wins and you like it. Most of the time the nose wins and you never eat it again.

    I would recommend giving it a go at least one time.


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