For some reason, there has been so much talk about durians this year. You can smell when the durian season rolls around, but it seems there’s been an extra interest in the King of Fruits this season. Everyone is talking about durians! And all this talk just made us want to go out and get some for ourselves!
The boys have had durian flavoured cakes, ice-cream, and durian puffs, but have never eaten it straight from the source. We’ve had durian with our family before but the boys had been too engrossed playing with their cousins to notice any strange, spiky fruits lying about, nor a fragrant/pungent smell wafting through the house.
So when Jon and I decided to head to Katong to buy home some durians, it really was the boys’ first ever durian makan session. What fun it was!
I like the durian opening process, and discovering the inside of each fruit is just so fascinating to me! One more section, and one more section, and one more… Knowing that the boys have never seen a durian being opened before (yes, so suaku), I asked them how they thought the durian flesh was taken out from the fruit. Asher thought you needed very thick gloves to handle the durian, then the skin had to be pealed off like a kiwi. Ellery thought all the spikes had to be cut blunt then the skin peeled off like an orange round and around. They both guessed that the inside of the durian would be like a melon, and you could cut it into slices. Very amusing :) They badgered me to tell them what it was really like, but I simply told them to wait and see.
Goodness. Having not bought durians for a few seasons, I did not realise that there were so many types of durians now. Besides the famous D24 and mao shan wang, there are the black pearl, golden phoenix, red prawn, green bamboo, XO, etc. Honestly, I have no idea what the differences are between these types. I just tell the durian seller, “bittersweet and creamy!” We were recommended the green bamboo durians. Jon and I had a late night durian outing a few nights before but the durian was very disappointing. We had gone too late, so there weren’t many choices left. The durian was thin, ‘watery’, and too sweet for my liking. But these durians from 227 Katong Durian were so good! And although business was brisk, the stall holders were patient. You could also see that they took care to choose good durians for you (important if you are, like me, quite clueless about how to pick good durians).
Asher was so eager to have some he was quite upset that we didn’t let him have a taste when the Uncle asked us to try it. I did though, and it was good! I couldn’t wait to get home!
Out came the newspapers to line the floor. Out came the durians from the bag. Eager hands couldn’t wait to get their fingers on creamy treats. Were it not for the thorns, the boys would have grabbed the durians themselves.
As Jon opened the first durian, the boys were more interested in the fleshy pieces. It was perfect! Exactly as I had hoped – bittersweet and creamy. They licked their fingers and thought that was it. Then Jon opened another segment. Asher’s eyes went wide! It was hilarious! They were absolutely delighted that the durians had small sections with ‘baby’ durians inside (small bite sized pieces).
We didn’t get many, so before we knew it, all the durian was gone! Poof! So much faster than I had expected. I told them there’ll be a next round. Ellery thought I meant that very night and he was so disappointed there would be no more durians! We showed them how to drink from the durian shells so their bodies wouldn’t be ‘heaty’, and wash their hands by rubbing the inside of the durian shell so there wouldn’t be a strong smell left on their fingers. It was past bedtime, so I hurried them to bed with playful threats of swinging durian shells at them if they didn’t go to bed quickly.
When I think of durian makan sessions, I remember all the times from my childhood when my parents or their friends bought durians, how we shared them with friends, neighbours, cousins (and a priceless memory of my cheeky brother chasing my durian-hating cousin with a piece of durian), and church friends (everyone would pool orders at church camp in Malaysia and an uncle would buy back several baskets of the fruit!).
The next day Asher surprised us with this note. And I realised that we love the King of Fruits not just because it tastes great, but because it gives us the chance to build bonds of love.
Durian is more than just a yummy fruit. Durian is a reason to gather, an experience to share.