My First Time Eating Durian

By Mikkel Gisle Johnsen

After discovering the benefits of eating a raw food diet back in 2011, my brother Mads and I were instantly intrigued by tropical fruits. With their incredible colors, shapes and aromas, their natural appeal to our senses was undeniable. One fruit in particular seemed to reign supreme over all the others though. Durian.

After several months of drooling over pictures and YouTube videos showcasing this absurdly delicious looking fruit, we decided to head over to Thailand to get a taste for ourselves.

The Meeting

For the first month of our eastern journey, we found no Durian at all. This was expected though, since we were on a small island in the southwestern part of the country, way early in the season. We ate mangoes like it was going out of style and got acquainted with the tropical environment!

Our preparations for the trip, as well as some of our experiences – including tips on how to go fruit hunting in places like Thailand – are detailed in my book «The Way of The Fruitful Traveler».

Eventually, we headed on over to Chanthaburi and the island of Koh Chang in eastern Thailand. We had learnt – from watching Durianrider videos on YouTube – that this province was the place to be if you wanted good durian.

The myth of an unbearable stench was quickly debunked during our first encounter with the King of Fruit at a market in Chanthaburi, late March 2012. An intensely sweet and delicious aroma immediately made us desire the fruit. It was reminiscent of caramelized onions mixed with tropical fruit somehow.

We were intent on our first Durian experience being in a more tranquil environment though, so we left the market with some mangoes and headed back to our hotel to eat dinner and get a good nights sleep before leaving to the island of Koh Chang the next morning.

The First

After moving into a nice bungalow on the southern tip of the island, we were ready to buy our first ever batch of Durian. They were of the Kradumthong variety, which means «Golden Button». After several days of leaving them to ripen in our hut, marinating our sleeping space with the most amazing scent, one finally split open. We had read that we should wait until they split open before eating them. This is more a general guideline than it is a rule we’ve later learnt, and it applies only to early picked durian, not tree ripened!

The moment of truth was upon us. Would we love it or hate it? Durianrider says it should be «supersweet». Here we go! «Blah! Noo!!! What is this? It tastes like raw onions!»

The disappointment was huge. Durian was disgusting! Not sweet at all! After a few moments of denial, we agreed that it was indeed very unpalatable.

We were skeptical though. How could this be? Durian is supposed to be very sweet! We decided something wasn’t right and that we would have to give it another try, another day. Maybe it was over ripe?

The Second

A couple of days later it was time to give Durian another chance. We were probably more excited than the first time. Same variety. Same setting. Same view of the ocean. Same smell.

«Oh yes! Mmmmmm! This is good. This is different!»

A strong sense of relief came over us as we realized it was actually good! Not only good – it was really good! Sweet with nutty undertones – just like we had heard people talk about! Finally we get to learn what the fuzz was all about!

It was obvious to us that the first durian we had must have been over ripe and somewhat rotten. Now, years later, we can confirm this to be true. Every durian is different, but the Kradum variety especially, goes «raw onion» on you if you leave it too long past peak ripeness. It also loses its sweetness. If you catch it right at the perfect time though, you’ve got yourself a glorious meal of what we like to call «Butter of The Gods».

The Third

A day or two after our second, and first real Durian experience, we were back at it wanting more. Let’s face it – we went to Thailand because of Durian alone. Sure, we wanted to experience the tropical climate and all the wonderful fruits there, but the real attraction was Durian. Prior to seeing, smelling and tasting the fruit, we were both worried about whether or not we would like it. There was so many expectations. People talk about this fruit as if it’s from another planet! Like nothing else!

Needless to say, we were disappointed after our first try. When our second Durian hit the spot like no other fruit had ever done before, we were in love – but it was not until our third try that we really entered that deep state of complete and utter «Durianosis».

Same setting. Same Durian Variety. Different batch though.

The celestial objects were in alignment. Our lives approaching the point of no return. Hand with Durian moving towards mouth. Impact.


No words at first. But then:


«This is insane! What is going on? How can something taste this good?»

Heads shaking in disbelief we started laughing…or crying. I’m not quite sure what was going on to be honest. Third time’s a charm they say and that’s exactly what happened to us. It was the most intensely delicious gustatory experience I had ever experienced. Superb aromas mixed with a super sweet taste, complete with infinite levels of subtle nuances in between. Words always fail me when I want to describe Durian.

The texture is creamy, like ice cream or a mix between avocado and banana. It’s like a dense version of whipped cream, encapsuled within a thin skin that bursts when you put it in your mouth. Like the best dessert in the world – just way better! There are hints of onion for sure, but that’s quite enjoyable now that it comes in concert with all the other flavors and sweetness. Some people say that it’s «too sweet», but as a former heavyweight candy consumer I beg to differ. The nausea that accompanies the consumption of too much refined sugar has nothing in common with the feeling of satisfaction that comes from fresh fruit.

So there we were. In a blissful state of Durian ecstasy. On a cliff, on an island in the Gulf of Thailand, looking out at the sunset, satisfied that the King of Fruit had blessed us with his presence. An obsession was born.

Read more: Why You Should Go Traveling Sooner Rather Than Later

The Way of the Fruitful Traveler
The Way of The Fruitful Traveler
by Mikkel Gisle Johnsen – 148 pages

Learn how to travel the world for fruit, sunshine and health – while carrying no more than 5 kg in your backpack!

This book will cover topics like:

  • Planning and preparing for a trip to the tropics
  • What to pack in order to travel light (ultralight packing list included)
  • How to travel with little or no money
  • How to source, transport, store and eat the best fruit on the planet
  • How to travel with or without a bicycle
  • How to make your dreams come true and create the life you always wanted.
  • How to stay safe and healthy while traveling
  • learn more button


What Good Fruit Should Be Like

I remember when I was growing up in Norway, we would always have a bowl of fruit on the table somewhere in the kitchen. There would be a couple of bananas, a few apples and maybe a peach. Pretty typical. The funny thing however, was that the fruit always seemed to go bad, and eventually we would throw it away. In other words – we ate very little fruit! Why is that? If fruit is supposed to be our natural food as humans, being frugivores and all, why weren’t we more attracted to the fruit in our kitchen back in the day? Let’s get into why that is and talk a little bit about how awesome fruit can be!

Humans are tropical animals

First of all we have to remember that humans evolved in the tropical regions of the world, where fruit grows abundantly and tends to be much sweeter than their temperate counterparts. This is due to the abundance of sunshine. The sweetness in a fruit comes from its carbohydrate content, more specifically its sugar content. As a frugivore by anatomy and biology, we are natural sweet seekers – evident in the ever present «sweet tooth» that humans seem to struggle with when they restrict their intake of fruit.

dsc_8089 The carbohydrate in the fruit is literally condensed sunlight. The energy we get from food, from the fruit in this case, comes from the sun. The stronger and more abundant the sunshine is, the easier it is for the plant to produce a sweet fruit – full of sugar. This sugar gives us fuel to move our body and keep our organism alive. We measure this energy in calories (Kcal to be specific).

Fruits grown in regions far from the equator tends to be less sweet than tropical fruits, partly because of the lack of sunshine available there. Temperate fruits like apples, pears, berries etc. also tend to be less ideal for covering our (theoretical) nutritional needs than the fruits of the tropics are. Even if we are to leave the idea of nutritional science completely behind, it still makes perfect sense experientially. Mangoes, papayas and bananas just naturally satisfy us better than apples, pears and berries. They are sweeter, denser in calories, creamier, less acidic and much more appealing to our sense of sight and smell. Of course, this doesn’t mean that an apple can’t be delicious, but the difference is still obvious. Humans are tropical animals and we thrive on tropical fruits.

Bad fruit is like…

Remember that fruit bowl in my house when I was growing up? The reason most of that fruit always ended up in the bin was simply because it was poor quality fruit. It was likely grown in poor conditions, picked too early or stored for too long – perhaps even all of the above. Bad fruit isn’t appealing. It lacks the vibrant colors that are supposed to make us want it. It doesn’t smell like anything at all. It tastes bland and boring at best – disgusting at worst.

Eating bad fruit requires effort. Willpower. You need motivation in order to eat a piece of poor quality fruit. The motivation most people use is this idea: «fruit is healthy, so I should at least eat some». Trying to make a fruit based diet work with poor quality fruit is basically like squatting in front of the couch instead of actually sitting down. It looks pretty similar, but it’s not the same! One requires a lot of effort, while the other is easy.

Eating bad quality fruit means you have to endure your meals, rather than enjoy them.

Good fruit is like…

Whenever I eat a piece of excellent quality fruit, I always tend to have the same thought: «If people only knew how good this is!». Eating good fruit is exactly opposite from eating bad fruit, it takes effort not to eat it! No one can resist a perfect Mango! I guarantee you that even the most junk-food-loving person in the world would still love a sugar ripe Cherimoya. When the fruit is so good, you have no desire to eat anything else. The fruit satisfies your every desire.

There are many things in this world that taste good in the mouth, but most of them don’t work very well in terms of digestion, elimination and peak physiological performance. Good fruit on the other hand, not only works wonders for your health – but it also tastes amazing. I’ve eaten many different foods in my life, and I can honestly say that whenever I have access to top quality, tropical or subtropical fruits, I have no wants for anything else. It requires no willpower whatsoever for me to eat fruit only. As I said, it’s quite the contrary, I cannot help myself – I simply must have that fruit!

What should I do?

The people that say a fruit based diet is difficult are the ones that are eating poor quality fruit. Another way to put it would be to say that they are not eating enough good quality fruit. Even if they do eat some good fruit, unless they are eating sufficient calories of it, they will still find it hard to do.

Therefore the ideal is simply to eat as much as you want – whenever you’re hungry – of fresh, ripe, raw, sweet, quality fruits. Unless the fruit is attractive and delicious by itself, I wouldn’t call it food.

That’s the ideal. Now what about the real world? The unfortunate reality of being a fruit lover in today’s world is that quality fruit is elusive. It’s not just because of poor farming practices and ignorance, but has more to do with logistics actually. Ripe fruit travels poorly, and in order to ship fruit around the world, it has to be picked before peak maturity. Fret not however, all is not lost!

It’s still quite possible to find high quality fruit, almost anywhere in the world – at least for part of the year – but you will have to go looking for it! Use your senses as a natural born fruit hunter. If it looks, smells and tastes good – go for it! Remember that ripe fruit is of the essence here guys!

Should you want to try some really good fruit however, you should travel to the tropics where you can get fresh fruit. When the fruit is picked with the intention of selling it at the local market, it can be picked when fully mature. This means a sweeter and more nutritious fruit for you! The closer you are to the source of your food, the higher the chances of a good batch of fruit. Soil quality and farming practices also matter of course, and if you can grow your own, or get in contact with some farms that emphasize quality over quantity, even better!

No matter where you are however, bananas are always available and they are usually quite consistent in their quality. Learn more about bananas and how to buy, store, ripen and eat them in The Little Banana Book. In this book I also talk about why you should make bananas your year round staple if you want to be successful with the fruit based, raw vegan diet.

In the end, I recommend that you do your best to find quality fruit that you enjoy eating, but if that’s nowhere to be found – going to the second best option of conservatively cooked roots, tubers, squashes and pumpkins of good quality will probably fare much better than trying to insist on having unsweet, unripe and unawesome fruit just because you’re «doing the raw vegan diet». That, in conjunction with plenty of bananas, should yield good, sustainable results. When quality fruit is around, you shouldn’t have to think twice about it. You know the mangoes are good when you’re like: «I just want mangoes, mangoes, mangoes, mangoes, mangoes, MANGOES!!!».

The information in this article reflects the views and opinions of the author and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. This is not medical advice. We are not responsible for any action you may take based on the information given in this article. For medical advice please see your medical professional.

The Little Banana Book
The Little Banana Book
by Mikkel Gisle Johnsen – 58 pages

All you need to know about bananas in order to successfully eat a fruit based diet anywhere in the world!

This book will cover topics like:

  • Why bananas are so great for you
  • How to tell a good banana from a bad one
  • How to buy bananas in bulk at your local store
  • The best ways to eat your bananas – smoothie recipes included
  • Proper banana management – ensuring a consistent supply of ripe fruit
  • How to control the ripening process at home
  • Banana nutrition 101
  • learn more button


My Top 10 Tastiest Fruits
By Mads T. S. G. Johnsen

dsc_8874 One of my favorite questions to ask any fruit fanatic is «What’s your top 10?». It immediately conjures a loving expression on their face as they start thinking of what they all-time favorite fruits are. Everyone has probably thought about this question at some time or other during their life, and so, most people already start describing what they enjoy the most. It’s often a fierce battle between which fruits gets to be on the “top 3”, but that’s what makes it so fun with lists! You have to choose!

My list is ever-changing, but it has remained somewhat similar for a couple of years now. This particular list takes only into account the pure taste of a fruit. Not how it digests, not how it delivers in terms of consistency… This is solely about mouth ecstasy!

  • X – Coconut: Nothing beats drinking a fresh young coconut some time before breakfast. So clean and pure, the ultimate sports drink, and probably the thing I miss the most when I’m not in the tropics.
  • #1 – Durian: Absolutely the highest taste experience you could possibly have as a human being. The absurdly ecstatic nature of its taste comes close to nothing else on earth by a million years. Creamy, sweet, slightly fatty and incredibly delicious. The best of all.
  • #2 – Mamey: A somewhat recent addition to my top list. Super dense, super sweet. Like a pumpkin, its creamy texture feels absolutely awesome when you eat it. Besides, it looks beautiful with its red flesh and black seed!
  • #3 – Avocado: Everybody loves avocadoes. Creamy and super fatty, it’s a special kind of fruit for sure. People say they are bland, but that is far, far from the truth if you go to where they are tastiest. Nothing gives me that deep strong, almost smoked flavor as avocadoes does. The humble king.
  • #4 – Cherimoya: Member of the annona family, and IMO the best of them. Ultra sweet and refreshingly juicy. Creamy white flesh with several black seeds. The green skin is deceptively bland looking, but the inside delivers. So, so good. Tip: Go to La Palma in the Canary Islands.
  • #5 – Chempedak: You can smell it a 100 meters away. The jackfruit’s ugly cousin. Very sweet, with an awesome, almost slimy texture. Some have hints of mom’s tomato sauce! We think of it as the garlic bread of fruits! Insanely good and strange!
  • #6 – Papaya: There are a lot of bad ones out there, but when you get access to a good batch… holy mother of god! The ultimate breakfast! Hydrating, gently sweet and probably one of the most nutritious foods on earth! Papaya will always be a huge part of my diet over the course of the year.
  • #7 – Mango: Let’s face it, mango is probably the one most people would say is there favorite fruit. Endless varieties and tastes. The perfect blend between sweetness, juiciness and size. The best way to eat a mango is naked, by a river!
  • #8 – Banana: Some might say banana is boring, and sure, the standard variety (Cavendish) is somewhat bland. There are, however, some banana varieties that would blow your mind! Being ultra-sweet, dense and filling, it always delivers in terms of calories. The fruitarian’s best friend.
  • #9 – Watermelon: 99.9% of the world’s watermelons are not worth eating. However… there are those times you come across some that are just insanely sweet and high quality. When this happens, there is probably no other food that comes close to giving you that “Oh, my god! Fruit is sooooo good…” feeling.
  • #10 – Fig: A fruit I have less experience with than I’d like. They are often expensive, and out of season when I travel. That said, the few times I’ve had them fresh from the tree, they have always surprised me! Jam-filled pockets of super tasty nutrition! If you’ve only had supermarket figs, you do not know what I’m talking about. It might go higher on my list later!
*Coconut isn’t a fruit, and shouldn’t take up space on the top 10. That said, it will always have a very important place in my heart, and thus earning a place on the list regardless!

The information in this article reflects the views and opinions of the author and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. This is not medical advice. We are not responsible for any action you may take based on the information given in this article. For medical advice please see your medical professional.

The Little Banana Book
The Little Banana Book
by Mikkel Gisle Johnsen – 58 pages

All you need to know about bananas in order to successfully eat a fruit based diet anywhere in the world!

This book will cover topics like:

  • Why bananas are so great for you
  • How to tell a good banana from a bad one
  • How to buy bananas in bulk at your local store
  • The best ways to eat your bananas – smoothie recipes included
  • Proper banana management – ensuring a consistent supply of ripe fruit
  • How to control the ripening process at home
  • Banana nutrition 101
  • learn more button