There’s a wonderful scent in the air these days, do you smell it? If you are an aficionado, you will be overjoyed when durian season descends on the city. Visiting the streets of Geylang or any neighbourhood market in suburban Singapore where heaps of durians in all shapes and sizes are displayed, I wonder how an apple (a nondescript take it or leave it kind of fruit) can be considered tempting next to this ‘King of Fruits’ (an intoxicating love it or hate it kind of fruit). To me, the world is divided into 2 classes of people, the devotees and the detractors. Those who don’t know which camp they’re in had best get their act together and find out. As G, a fellow devotee, once said to me, “It’s a sin of omission!” (directed to those who have not had the opportunity or worked up enough courage to sample this controversial fruit). This fruit is so controversial, they actually ban it on certain airlines, and even in Singapore (where surely there are more devotees than detractors) it is not allowed on public transportation and in most hotels and air-conditioned public places.Durians Galore
I LOVE LOVE LOVE DURIANS but this devotion can be a cross to bear throughout the durian season (traditionally from May to September) since hubby HATES HATES HATES DURIANS. He is a Singaporean through and through in all respects and yet behaves like a bloody ‘angmoh’ when it comes to this particular fruit (‘angmoh’ is Singlish for foreigner – loosely translated into ‘red-haired’ person, which is probably how our ancestors viewed hairy western foreigners). No particular offence to any enlightened durian-devotee ‘angmoh’ reading this posting but it’s no big secret that most foreigners who’ve had some contact with this fruit fall in the class of detractors. In the same breath, there are pockets of unique Singaporeans who just cannot bear the stench, sight and taste of the fruit.
Once, I bought from the local supermarket some durians, the fruit of which had been removed from the outer spiky shell, packed into styrofoam containers and finally saran-wrapped to keep in the wonderful aroma (or horrendous stench, it’s a matter of perspective). The treasure was smuggled into our shared home and refrigerator. No prizes for guessing that all hell broke loose! For that one infraction, I was exiled to the far and cold nether of Siberia – had to clean out the entire fridge and replace butter and eggs plus anything else that had odor-absorbent qualities, and then faced freezing icy countenance from hubby for the next couple of weeks!
True Devotees Since then, it’s been a dearth of durians for moi. Many, many, many moons passed until recently when a bunch of colleagues suggested a durian feast, and G volunteered his home as venue. Only another durian-deprived devotee can understand the pure pleasure of anticipation, and in this CM whose husband is as bad as mine, was right up there with me. The durian partakers at this feast either skipped lunch that day or had a very light one in preparation for the waist-expanding exercise that night. No other food was allowed for the dinner feast – this was going to be an exclusive homage to the ‘king of fruits’. We gathered at G’s home, and the salivating aroma hit us the minute we stepped into the garden where G had placed the fruits in 4 big sacks. 20 fruits in all for 6 of us – what heavenly bliss!Prelude to Bliss
As we pulled apart the durians, the lovely pale yellow fruit peeped thru’ and beckoned… its fresh durian aroma wafted through the air and like invisible tentacles drew the devotees hopelessly into its clutches (nothing else smells quite like it, and that is why it is probably one of the most easily identified aromas), its custard-like texture giving a full-bodied satisfying feel in the mouth (somewhere between not too firm and not too pulpy), its sweetness tempered with a perfect dash of bitterness (just enough for contrast), the not-so-big seeds and thus more-flesh for the eating, raised enough oohs, aahs, sighs, hmms, that G’s neighbours would have been forgiven for thinking that an orgy was going on in his backyard. It was an orgasmic experience for the palate!
Crime Scene Piles of durian husks and seeds later, we were suitably sated and CM and I started the ritual of removing all evidence of durian feasting from fingers, hands and breath (can’t do anything about the potential burps or farts) before returning home to durian-detractor husbands. Took a portion of the husk, rubbed a bit of salt onto the white segments which had earlier contained the fruit, poured water into the segments and drank from the same. Repeat ritual and use water to wash hands. Durian sellers swear by this method for effective removal of the durian scent. For added precaution, CM and I also did the Listerine gargle!
I wonder how many more moons will pass before my next taste of this luscious redolent fruit. In the meantime, looks like I will have to satisfy myself in the meantime with durian cakes, durian mousse, durian ice-cream, durian cream-puffs, durian chips (these are air-dried and then oven-baked durian flesh, somewhat like banana chips), durian shakes, durian chendol (a local Malay dessert concoction using fresh coconut milk mixed in syrup with an assortment of jelly, both agar-based and tapioca-based, and with durian pulp added to it). By the way, did you know there's durian-flavoured condoms? Incredulous, the 'king of fruits' has stamped its mark again in the most intimate of settings!
So, what are you waiting for? If you are a devotee – no time of lose, get your durian fix pronto quick. If unsure, don’t continue committing the sin of omission. If detractor you be, hope you’ve found some other substitute to equal this orgasmic experience for the palate!