clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jessica Chastain loves durian, the fruit that smells like “pig shit garnished with a gym sock”

Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

When Jessica Chastain stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night, she brought a present with her.

Kimmel watched in mystification as Chastain handed him two pairs of gloves, two knives, and finally an enormous thorn-covered football-shaped something.

"What is that?" he demanded.

That is durian, an Asian fruit famous for its potent smell. It’s so strong that in Southeast Asia it’s been banned from public transportation. Anthony Bourdain says that if you eat it, "your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother." (He means it as a compliment.) Food writer Richard Sterling says that "its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock."

"It tastes like onions and garlic and avocado and pineapple, in a custard," said Chastain. (She also meant it as a compliment.)

Kimmel blanched in horror as he cut the durian open and was hit with the full force of its smell. "It attacked me! It’s foul!" he cried.

Even after Chastain devoured a clump of the fruit, he was reluctant to try any.

"Shove it in," Chastain instructed him.

"Put the whole thing in my mouth?" he asked in horror.

In one fell swoop, Chastain plucked the fruit out of his hands and popped it into his mouth.

"It’s on the line between horrible and delicious," Kimmel said. Then he handed the remains to Guillermo and asked him to throw them into the sea.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.