Last updated on July 5, 2020
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As much as it’s not on my dietary schedule, I just tried some Danish Blue (shades of Monty Python’s Cheese Shop) on my breakfast toast.
Limburger and Durian. No, not together, although they share a degree of pungency, in both contexts they allow a media viewer to have a reaction unavailable except in smell-o-vision (John Waters’s Polyester had scratch and sniff cards).
These perceptions are that cinematic sense, not normally available to that experience, but always amusing especially in food and cooking related shows. In media “the smelliest thing” used to be Limburger but is now displaced by Durians, and are about the character’s response transmitted to the viewer indirectly (mediated).
Limburger (in southern Dutch contexts Rommedoe, and in Belgium Herve cheese) is a cheese that originated in the Herve area of the historical Duchy of Limburg, which had its capital in Limbourg-sur-Vesdre, now in the French-speaking Belgian province of Liège.The cheese is especially known for its strong smell caused by the bacterium Brevibacterium linens.
In its first month, the cheese is firmer and more crumbly, similar to the texture of feta cheese. After about six weeks, the cheese becomes softer along the edges but is still firm on the inside and can be described as salty and chalky. After two months of its life, it is mostly creamy and much smoother. Once it reaches three months, the cheese produces its notorious smell because of the bacterium used to ferment Limburger cheese and many other smear-ripened cheeses. This is Brevibacterium linens, the same one found on human skin that is partially responsible for body odor and particularly foot odor.
Limburger and its characteristic odor are a frequent butt of jokes. Reactions to, and misinterpretations of, the smell of Limburger cheese were gags used in numerous Little Rascals and Three Stooges comedy shorts. Also, the arch-enemy of the Biker Mice from Mars has the name Lawrence Limburger, complete with terrible body odor.
Actually durian popsicles are OK, much like the US still does need to still get better at appreciating the range of globalized sensations.
The durian (/ˈdjʊəriən, ˈdʊr-, –æn/) is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio. There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit, with over 300 named varieties in Thailand and 100 in Malaysia, as of 1987. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. It is native to Borneo and Sumatra.
Named in some regions as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and thorn-covered rind. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and 15 cm (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs 1 to 3 kilograms (2 to 7 pounds). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.
Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance, whereas others find the aroma overpowering with an unpleasant odour. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour, which may linger for several days, has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia. By contrast, the nineteenth-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds“. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet desserts in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.
In 2019, researchers from the Technical University of Munich identified ethanethiol and its derivatives as a reason for its stinky smell. However, the biochemical pathway by which the plant produces ethanethiol remained unclear such as the enzyme that releases ethanethiol.
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