Durian. The King of Fruit. A fruit that has, well, an unpleasant odour. Some say it reeks of the manure of a fruit eating bird, others liken it to the stomach contents of unwell monkeys. To me, the aroma brings to mind a mixture of baby vomit and bubble gum. All agree that it is a powerful scent – which is why it is banned from all public transport here, and many civilised eateries. Despite the smell, I really do enjoy the taste – it is hard to describe exactly, but to me it is like the best parts of honeydew melon and very ripe mango combined, then multiplied a dozen fold.
Find a coffee shop or a hawker centre and you’ll often find the durian seller nearby – sometimes with their own tables and chairs, a respectful distance from other eateries. You can literally just follow your nose
Here, the durian vendor at the Queen Street end of the Bugis Street Market is grading a new batch of fruit by ripeness and quality:
There are many ways of eating The King of Fruits – I’ve enjoyed it in the following forms (I am sure there are others)
- fresh cut while you wait by a durian stall vendor
- already cut in a foam tray from the durian stall or supermarket
- preparations of it in desserts – the dessert stall in the middle of the Lau Par Sat hawker centre does a decent durian chendol
- freshly juiced – two places close to where I lived in Bugis would juice durian on request (with only a little grimace on the face of the person working the blender)
- in moon cakes – I have to say that the conventional double yolk lotus paste mooncake does not appeal to me as much as the durian snowskin variety
Opinions are divided amongst my Singaporean friends over durian – regardless of age, cultural background or gender, some love it and some certainly do not. For me, access to fresh durian is one of the many side benefits of life in this part of the world – and I hope to continue to enjoy it for many years to come.