Food Strange

A $1,000 Indonesian Fruit + Smell-o-Phone

Would you pay $1,000 for any single fruit in the world? The strangest thing I found today is a fruit (a durian variety) in Jakarta, Indonesia for which people will pay over $1,000 each. The smell of a durian, which has caused flight delays, is one I’ve never experienced, so I started wondering about smell-o-phones… is there such a thing? Read on…

An Indonesian variety of the durian – a pungent, spiky fruit considered a delicacy across many parts of Asia — has been sold in a store on the island of Java for a hefty $1,000 per fruit.

The “J-Queen” durian was selected by a panel of farmers in a region of central Java because it was deemed to have a special taste and texture, said Sudarno, a farmer who grew the fruit.
Two of the rare durians, which were displayed in a perspex case in a store in Tasikmalaya in the neighboring province, were sold for 14 million rupiah ($1,002) each, said Sudarno, who uses one name like many Indonesians.
Asked why anyone would pay such a high price, he said the harvest from this particular tree had failed in past seasons, but a new fertilizer helped to produce fruit this year.

“It’s sweet..fluffy and delicious,” Sudarno said by phone, describing the texture as creamy like butter. 

Durian are often grown in family orchards or small-scale farms and are hugely popular in many parts of Asia. 

Sometimes described as smelling like an open sewer or turpentine when ripe, durian are banned in some airports, public transport and hotels in Southeast Asia. 

Sudarno said most of the 20 durians produced by his tree were premature, but four were offered for sale. Two were sold and the others pulled from display after their quality faded.


How does something smell so strong (like an open sewer or Turpentine) and also taste sweet and delicious? Isn’t smell a big percentage of taste?

“The sensation of flavor is actually a combination of taste and smell,” said Tom Finger, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver Medical School and chairman of the 2008 International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste…

“If you hold your nose and start chewing a jelly bean taste is limited, but open your nose midway through chewing and then you suddenly recognize apple or watermelon.” …

That’s because as you chew, you’re forcing air through your nasal passages, carrying the smell of the food along with it. Without that interplay of taste and smell, you wouldn’t be able to grasp complex flavors, Finger said. Instead you’d be limited to the basic taste sensations picked up chemically by the tongue: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami — a savory sensation frequently associated with the additive MSG.

Via LiveSci

A smell option on our phones at times like this would be neat. It may be a long time for full smell-o-phones because the way smell works is that the 40 million olfactory receptor neurons in your nose directly interact with molecules of the substance being smelled.
Smell-o-phones would need to either recreate complex molecules and spray them into your nose, … or trigger your brain’s olfactory bulb directly in a way that it would have been. Both too tricky at our current state of technology. But wait… there is an add-on device for phones that has up to 365 smells you can send/receive according to this:

Over 300 smells is a start, but did you know that we humans can smell more than the 10,000 smells previously estimated? Researcher decided from extrapolation that we can smell more than 1 trillion different scents.

Vosshall hopes the research will inspire people to smell the world in a new way. “Don’t constrain yourself to 10,000 scents — use the full trillion,” she said.

Via LiveSci

I love learning things like this, that our senses are better than we thought.
Getting back to our $1,000 J-Queen durian, are there any more expensive single fruits? Yes.
A Densuke Watermelon can go for as much as $6,000, and a pineapple from the Lost Gardens of Heligan sold for $15,000 according to moneyinc.

It was the rarity of a pineapple grown in the UK and the unique way it was raised that fetched this record price, so the story goes. A product of the island of Hokkaido, the hybrid, orange-fleshed Yubari King Melon is highly prized for its sweetness, and, as Gourmet writes, “beautiful proportions.”
A pair of Yubari King Melons once went for $23,500 and while this was claimed as the most expensive fruit, a single Heligan Pineapple at $15,000 has that beat, if you don’t count the pair of melons as a single fruit.

Interesting stuff? I’m curious about everything, but some things are more important than others to learn. I’m trying to learn that. Wasting a little time on trivia helps the nerves.

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