#23 Durian

Posted March 3rd, 2008 by kvietgrl · 22 Comments

I’ve recently discovered this blog and think it’s hilarious, a good laugh for the day, so I decided to contribute to the effort by writing once in a while a series on tropical fruits - my true passion! I’m not funny so please bear with the cheesy report/journalistic nature of my fruit series. Have fun!

“The fact that a fruit exists that looks like a giant mace with spiky points proves that God exists, and he has a sense of humor…” - a friend of mine

MeThe world should be exposed to the wonders and secrets of the Asian equatorial area: tropical fruits! These regions include Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and other tropical areas…even Canada and the US are now discovering the phenomenon and are learning to plant it so you better be in the know! Let’s start the first post with the most paradoxical one: Durian, a fruit that elicits the most polar of responses. Many Asians are in love with durian and think it tastes and smells good. This is an important point - smells good. They’re addicted to its sweet and exotic aroma, and love how it warms up their hearts and stomaches. However, some Asians will say that durian smells nasty like putrid fart and will run away at the slightest whiff.

http://www.timwu.org/durian.JPGIf you still haven’t seen this monster, it’s usually a brownish yellow-green color on the outside with somewhat firm skin. The skin is thick enough when ripe for the durian to be a feat to open. The inside yellow part you eat is soft like custard. When not ripe, it hangs on trees along the streets of equatorial Asian regions - green - and very SPIKY! In old times, Asians must have used it for defense in wars as they can probably knock enemies out with one thrust of the durian. The fruit is yellow on the inside, with a brown, usually big seed. The brighter the yellow, the sweeter and more intense it tastes, and the “stinkier” or “lovelier” it smells depending on which durian party you stand.

People know where Singapore stands as a country with the signs everywhere forbidding carriage of durians on their transits; however, it’s somewhat odd that they’ve dedicated their Esplanade building to boast the beauty of this spiky creature. Therefore, the world knows deep down Singaporeans probably dig durian and can’t have enough of it. Why else would they need the signs?


As one of the world’s top food connoisseurs, Asians have developed many culinary art forms, one being The Art of Eating Fruits. So here’s how Asians get to business:

1. Asians know their knives. They must buy the cheapest and sharpest. If it becomes dull, they’ll use the back of their rice bowls to sharpen the knives. Primitive? Not for the Asians.


2. Despite their ineptitude for the football sport, Asians know exactly how to hold their durians. Asians hold the side of the durian, gripping areas between the spikes with their fingers.


3. At places that are raised higher, they work their knives down one inch into the fruit while spreading the open slit with their tiny fingers while avoiding smushing the fruit. Remember, asians are perfectionists.


4. With their thin bodies, asians must carefully use both hands and arm strength to widen the slits. They are especially patient and hard-working when it comes to good food.


5. Try this at home and feel proud for learning The Art of Eating Fruit. To maximize their resources, Asians save leftovers by making durian ice cream. They wrap the pieces up in saran wrap and throw it in the freezer. Also, they save the seeds to boil them and they’ve got themselves a potatoey treat!

My photo

If you want to make an Asian happy, when treated with durian at their home, go on and on complimenting how clever they were in picking it out, how sweet and delightful-smelling it is and you’ll automatically be put on their New Year’s red envelope list. How do Asians know which durian tastes the best if they all look the same?

In order to pick the best one, Asians want to get their money’s worth even if they’re picking out a cheap frozen one. Asian moms or grandmas have the eye for the freshness of the spikes and color, magic fingers to feel and press the fruit to sense how big each section is, and they know their fruit seasons. The durian has 5 sections, each having 2-3 yellow pieces to eat. However, some durians will only have 3 inedible pieces in the entire fruit due to one’s lack of Asian skills.

In light of bargains, yes, one should wait until there is a sale at the Asian supermarket or if you’re in Asia, then you’ll need some charm and bartering skills at the flea markets because they’ll try to jack up the price! Flea market ladies will try to trick you of every kuai or dong…if you are a naive Asian, then you could easy get tricked after spending such a long time picking the best durian and trying to get the best deal; however, at the end, flea market lady could very well surreptitiously slip a rotten durian into your bag and you’ll walk happily home.

Anyhow, back to the US, durians are usually sold for $3.99/lb at an Asian supermarket for a fresh one. Frozen ones are 99 cents/lb. Usually, Asians will get the frozen ones exported from Thailand or somewhere and dethaw it for about 3 hours because it’s cheaper. They gotta save every cent. When Asian families have a special occasion, maybe once a year, they might get a fresh one. These things are heavy depending on size, usually 3-4 lbs!

Me and Friend

In my quest for truth, I wanted to know if my Asian friends were simply pretending to hate durian or was there something genetic about their sense of smell that made them run away because in the end, I couldn’t take no for an answer. How could some Asians completely reject a fruit that so clearly represents their Asian nature? Tasty and Farty. Sweet and Spunky. Back in the days, I performed some “field research” at my dorm. Note: Asians have too much time on their hands. 100% of those whom I polled gave durian a try, and 72.7% (8 out of 11) liked it, while 27.3% told me to take it far away. These people were of all races; 2 Indians, 3 Chinese, and 3 White people tried and liked it. 1 White, 1 White/Asian, and 1 Chinese hated it. My conclusion was that affinity for this fruit extends beyond race and that out of a random sample, most people like durian but are scared because of what they’ve heard about it. Also, some Asians simply don’t like it and that’s the end of the story or they don’t want to seem uncool or fobby if spotted eating it. Side note: two of the white people even asked for more and reminded me a couple times to bring it back to the dorm. Hopefully this was a decent introduction and did the great durian some justice. If you have more questions regarding the durian, feel free to leave some comments.

Written by Kvietgrl

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