The King of Fruits

I was going to have a bit of a ranty moment about anonymous commenters, and how they have such little courage of their own convictions to even sign their name, and why they feel threatened by a blog that’s read by 30 people or less every day including most of the author’s family, and how the best way to increase your blog stats is to comment on our hyped-up, artificially produced cultural ‘icons’, and thank you Susanna for weighing in there on behalf of a total stranger and what is happening to the kids, people! The kids!!

But the moment has passed.

I shall write about the King of Fruits instead. Aunty Franner and I had a wee Durian festival last night. They sell these things in Safeway these days you know! We whisked the last one off the stand, and I’m sure the greengrocers there breathed a sigh of relief.

As it is known in South-East Asia, the King of the Fruits (and Malaysia’s national fruit) is like sinking your face, and greedy paws, into rich, creamery butter with custard tinged with strawberries, soursop, vanilla… and onion and garlic. It’s just about the weirdest food on the planet, but so good!

They are these big, hard, very spiky fruit, and can weigh up to 5 kilos. Dr Alfred Tan has a hilarious description here, of how to choose an excellent Durian. Sometimes too spiky to hold, the wondrous Durian can only be accessed with mighty stroke of a machete, or if you’re clever, by discovering one of the natural ‘seams’ hidden along its powerful sides. Once inside, you’ll discover long compartments each containing 3 or 4 pods nestling together like bush babies, covered in delicious yellow goo.

To the untrained, it’s like ‘eating garlic icecream out of a toilet bowl’. But anyone who says that is a fool. It is a culinary experience like none other. Talk to most people from SE Asia about the King, and they’ll roll their eyes to the ceiling, sigh rapturously, and rave on about Durian season back home when they ate nothing but, for 3 weeks straight. One of the saddest tales of my life was being taken to a ‘Durian village’ in Borneo – out of season.

There are many delightful tales and myths surrounding the Durian. Ideas of ‘heat-y’ and ‘cool-y’ (like Yin & Yang I guess) apply to its consumption. Durian is supposed to dry you out, being too ‘hot’, so you have to full up the empty pods with water after you’re done, to address the balance. Another, more enjoyable remedy is to scoff a Mangosteen (cool-y), which is known as the Queen of the Fruits.

One the season starts, everyone knows about it. Just lift your nose to the air when a Durian truck passes and follow the scent. Around Singapore, you’ll see many ‘no Durian’ signs on public transport. Even if your cab driver has one in the boot, or ate it for lunch you’ll smell it. If you’re indifferent when you first try it, you’ll wind up loving it later on. Although if you loathe the taste at first, you’ll never like it.

We ate the entire thing between the two of us, even though we’d just had dinner. Aunty Fran let it smear all over her chin, and did not care. Her boyfriend declined, saying it ‘looks like rotting flesh’ – I did not care. I’m sure the neighbours rang the council about the open drains – we did not care.

Long live the King.

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7 thoughts on “The King of Fruits

  1. OH MY GOD! You are the first Non-Asian person i’ve EVER [virtually] met who loves the Durian! And for that you are truly Extraordinary! Mmmm…The King of Fruits…Only second though to the soursop *salivate all over keyboard*p.s.: did you know that durian picking were once considered a very dangerous job as the fruit may fall on the picker’s heads & cause death! (…or maybe was that just a fairy tale my folks told me so i’d learn gratitude…)

  2. Susanna I think you said it better than my next rant!Bek, which means that if you eat it at least one more time you’ll be hooked!Andrea you are a vile traitor to your people.VV after an informal survey it seemed all the Aussies in my block in Singapore loved the King, A-merikans couldn’t stand it! Brits indifferent and most Canadians thought it was the best. Am glad to hear he has spread his spiny hands around the globe.

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