Saturday, March 17, 2007

Unforgettable

You know how they say that animals have a sixth sense? We had two welsh corgis from Australia that could sense evil. That is, if you believe that durian is the devil's fruit and you would rather kiss my ass than eat durian. Before the car even came to park, their ears would prick upwards and their stout bodies would be rigid with unease. It was a hilarious sight watching the corgis bark and growl at a bunch of durians on the floor. The corgis have long passed on and our second generation Malaysian golden retriever loves durian.

Say what you will about our prickly friend, whether good or bad, the experience is best described as unforgettable. My family and I share a special fondness for durian. I have a feeling it stemmed from my late father's borderline obsession. During those gruelling three hour bumper-to-bumper pre-PLUS highway trips back to Ipoh , if there were durians, dad would somehow be able to find it. Let me tell you, three hours of Tom Jones, second hand smoke and the occasional residual durian would traumatise most kids. Perhaps this is why I still dread going back to Ipoh and why I feel nauseous when I get into a car that smells of stale cigarettes. But that’s a whole different baggage altogether.

Every now and then, we would make a special trip back to Ipoh just to eat durians. My late grandmother had a friend with access to the best durians in Perak. She would have two types, soft creamy sweet ones for us and the bittersweet ones for dad. We would sit around the porch while grandma skilfully pried the prickly shells apart with a dangerously sharp cleaver. As a child I was fascinated by this whole process. It was like magic, secret pockets hiding plump golden durian would appear every time a shell was halved. It seemed to go on forever and we would feast on the beauties while we swat away mosquitoes in the evening sun. If there were any durians left, I would help tip their corpulent bodies into discarded Magnolia ice cream containers and they would make the journey back with us to KL.

I'm not an expert but I have tried most varieties. D-series, kampung, penang red, mountain cat king, etc… Durians with flesh so dense you almost choke when you swallow them. Soft and creamy ones with texture like whipped butter. Plump, golden ones that leave a mark when you press a finger to the smooth stretched surface. Perhaps the ones I like most of all are ones with pale wrinkled skin that gives way to thick liquid heaven. Mmmm, sublime... The picture of the tiny durian I have in my hand was taken a few days ago. It was a little present from Hunky who happen to pick it up from the ground as he walked past my neighbour's house. My neighbour's tree is over 30 years old and has the kind of wrinkly skinned durians that I love. I've only had the pleasure of eating 3 durians from his tree. They fell over the fence onto our driveway and we scooped them up like hungry vultures. They are one of the best durians I've ever had. It was flowering last month. I wait in anticipation for June to arrive when they will ripen and (hopefully) drop over the fence.

1 comment:

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