Malaysia – Durian Heaven

If someone would ask me what I liked most about Kuala Lumpur I would probably say: people’s appreciation for durian and its omnipresence :)

Durian, of course, is that controversial Asian fruit. It is quite big and grows on trees

One of durian’s characteristics is its unique smell. Some people refer to durian as “cheese fruit” because its “odour” might be confused with stinky French cheese by non-experts.

The inside of the fruit contains the meat with its also unique aroma (and strong smell):

Here you see different kinds of Durian as you can tell by the different colours of their meat.

The heavy smell of this fruits divides people into two camps: those who love the fruit and those who find it disgusting. The latter seem to be in the majority as basically all over Asia it is forbidden to carry it on public transport!

Most hotels (like mine in KL) won’t allow you to bring durian on the premises:

I suppose the love for durian is an acquired taste (like for Guinness or smeary, stinky cheese). But once you got the “virus” it will stay with you.

Wherever I go in Asia I look out for durian. You can find it on most markets in the Southeast-Asian countries, rarely in shops. In Thailand and Vietnam I can find some durian ice cream here and there – and I love that too.

Malaysia, however is the only country that I know where durians are not equal. People are enthusiasts and experts and there is at least a dozen kinds of durian that people distinguish by flavour. In Vietnam the durian they have is less aromatique and I have never seen different kinds on offer (same in Thailand but there the durian is a bit more pungent).

In Malaysia however you find durian stalls in all quarters and each one of them sells different kinds

When you see people buying them, they sniff them, examine the exterior, weigh them in their hands, knock on them and listen to the sound…all very focused. Only in Malaysia! There is a lot of cheating by the traders. Because different durians carry quite different prices.

The number one durian is the “Musian King”. Its price is well double that of an “ordinary” durian. Then there are kinds like “D24″ (number 2 on the ladder), “D1″ and so on. It takes an expert to discern them and the saying is that once you have found a dealer you can trust you stick with him for good.

Of course, you always choose your durian as a whole fruit. Once it is weighed and paid you can ask the seller to put the meat in a foam box and discard the rest – but stay away from public transport!

No “connoisseur” would buy his durian already packaged like this:

I really felt in durian heaven in KL. Not only have I never been surrounded by so much durian scent in my life – there are also all kind of durian derivative products on the market that, of course, I had to try.

Durian gourmet ice cream for one:

And another durian ice cream with pulp:

A pancape stuffed with durian and cream:

A scone with durian filling:

Durian ice cream in a plastic “balloon” that is first squeezed to make it soft and then you squeeze out small amounts like from a baby bottle (!):

Now, these were boutique-type handmade delicacies like I have not found them anywhere else. In addition there are also quite a few commercial products readily available:

Quite tasty durian ice on a stick (in all supermarkets):

A kind of durian fruit-drink:

…and durian meat covered in chocolate:

All that durian stuff is quite expensive and you feel a bit like in a Dutch coffee shop when you buy it – but it is such a joy and pleasure for me that I cannot resist :)

It should be said, however, that while the taste of the durian has long left your tongue’s papillae it won’t leave your body for a long time. You will be reminded of it from time to time by blurps with a smell that will send the people around you diving for cover :) And your breath will carry a faint scent (like it happens with garlic) that probably only the adepts will recognise and you will become part of an elite circle of initiated people :)

Thank you, Malaysia, for sharing your treasure with me and for adding to my knowledge and understanding…






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