Fruit Stand: Durian

It’s that time of year when trucks… excuse me, lorries, overflowing with this spiky fruit are parked along the roads in Penang.  The pungent aroma of fresh durian attract the addicts and repel those of us who have not joined the cult.  And quite the cult it is.  Living in Southeast Asia, your friends will want you to try this particular wonderfulness.  My friend Amanda recently posted about durian on her blog.

I have a hard time getting durian past my nose to my mouth.  Since I’m such a non-expert, I’ve been doing some interviews with people here, and people who have had experience living in Asia.

First piece of advice for durian initiates is to go for the fresh stuff first.  Try durian flavored food-stuff later.  And there is a lot available, if you dare to look.  In Indonesia, we had a (cruel) person buy us a box of donuts from Dunkin Donuts, not knowing that they ordered some Durian Creme ones in there.  My wife’s thoughts went something like this, “Hmm, this vanilla creme seems to have gone off.  This one too.”  Durian donuts, wafers, candies, ice creme, all available, but pretty undesirable if you are not already a fan of the fruit.  So try the real deal first.

Second piece of advice, go to the durian not the other way around.  If you have lived here long enough, there will be plenty of volunteers who will want to take you to durian, or bring you some.  Beware bringing it into your home, though, there is a reason why there are no durian signson buses, trains and other public transport.  The smell lingers.

Third piece of advice, go with a friend.  This is going to be a social thing for a foreigner.  And this is also going to be a way for you to deepen local friendships.

One final piece of advice.  Don’t think of it as a fruit.  It is easier to consider it something like a stinky cheese.  If you are expecting one thing and get another thing, you will become disappointed.

For more about Penang Durian check out this multimedia slideshow by Digital Trekker.