Alfred Russel Wallace on Durians: His first mention of a Durian

"I slept that night in the village of the Sebungow Dyaks, and the next day reached Sarawak, passing through a most beautiful country, where limestone mountains with their fantastic forms and white precipices shot up on every side, draped and festooned with a luxuriant vegetation. The banks of the Sarawak River are everywhere covered with fruit trees, which supply the Dyaks with a great deal of their food. The Mangosteen, Lansat, Rambutan, Jack, Jambou, and Blimbing, are all abundant; but most abundant, and most esteemed is the Durian, a fruit about which very little is known in England, but which both by natives and Europeans in the Malay Archipelago is reckoned superior to all others. The old traveller Linschott, writing in 1599, says:- "It is of such an excellent taste that it surpasses in flavor all the other fruits of the world, according to those who have tasted it." And Doctor Paludanus adds:- "This fruit is of a hot and humid nature. To those not used to it, it seems at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately they have tasted it, they prefer it to all other food. The natives give it honorable titles, exalt it, and make verses on it." When brought into a house the smell is often so offensive that some persons can never bear to taste it. This was my own case when I first tried it in Malacca, but in Borneo I found a ripe fruit on the ground, and, eating it out of doors, I at once became a confirmed Durian eater."

Excerpt from The Malay Archipelago, by Alfred Russel Wallace. Reproduced by permission of Dover Publications,Inc. 180 Varick St. NY, NY 10014

Alfred Russel Wallace on Durians: Their natural history and Dangerous Durians

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