Durian - King of all fruit
I wrote an article for our embassy newsletter after a group of us went out for durian last weekend -it is my Friday Find...
Durian - Have you tasted it yet?
If not, this is the time of year to give it a try. Durian, regarded by many as the "king of fruit", is known for its strong odor. Because of its unique smell, you pretty much have to eat the entire fruit where you purchase it, as you are not allowed to take it on buses, the MRT, or in a taxi. So grab a group of your closest friends and share a few durians at a roadside stand. A group of us headed down to the Geylang area on the North side of Sims Ave – an area well known for selling durian.
Friend Daisy and I decided to taste it together... I think I liked it a little better than she did.
Singaporeans have the highest reported consumption of durian in the world. The fruit is native to South East Asia and are mainly imported into Singapore from Malaysia. They say it is best to eat the durian the same day it drops from the tree. There are many kinds of durian, just like there are many kinds of apples. Mao Shan Wang, which means ‘Cat Mountain King’, is considered the best and is the variety we tried.
How can you tell which one to buy? Take a local Singaporean with you! Or leave it up to the durian vendors. They will smell them, shake them, and even cut a few open to make sure you get the ripest one.
The vendors will cut them up for you and have tables nearby where you can sit and enjoy your fruit. Beware; there is a seed in the middle! It is customary to eat mangosteen after the durian, which are also sold at the durian booths. They say the durian is the “yang” and mangosteen is the “yin”, and the coolness of the mangosteen balances out the “heatiness” of the durian.
We found that Durians are a love/hate food – there were eleven of us and we were equally split on liking it. Those who loved it, found it to taste like a rich custard, flavored with almonds; but those who didn't, described it as rotten onions, dirty socks, dirty diaper…you get the picture.
Durian season in Singapore is from June to August, so don't wait too long to give this “only in Asia” experience a try. Expect to pay between $20 and $35 PER durian for the good ones. Another reason it is good to go with a few friends. Make sure you know the final price before you accept the durian as they can go up to $100 per durian!
Tip: After you are finished, if you wash your hands with water poured into the durian husk, it will help get rid of the smell on your fingers.
This was my second time tasting Durian. Do I like it? I think so... but would not go out of my way to eat it. And just an FYI - you will enjoy the taste HOURS after eating as it really makes you burp!
For my local readers - There are numerous durian stalls at Sims Avenue (along the stretch of the road opposite Geylang Lorong 9 and Lorong 11) It is a short walk from the Aljunied MRT- on the green line. The nearest bus stop number is 80071 and the buses are 2,13,21,26,51,62,63,80,100 and 158.
What's your Friday Find?