On my last day in Singapore, my mom drove to this fruit store called Durian Lingers somewhere along Bukit Timah road. It’s not particularly famous but I wanted to eat durians and it was open. She handed me $100 and I promptly went over and grabbed this bigass Green Bamboo for $50 at $18/kg. I figured one expensive, indulgent treat would be enough. Regrets make you determined to revisit good experiences.

It was a pretty dope one. I was about a week off from durian season proper, which is generally June to July as the primetime in Singapore and even into August and September probably, with an second season round November til January or February. I always seem to be home sometime around March or April so I must be a fucking idiot. Despite the fact that it wasn’t primetime, I had a really nice, bittersweet durian that had all the attributes of fine wine. Bouquet, texture, length and also a slight peacock’s tail people find in excellent Pinot Noir. It wasn’t the best durian I’ve ever eaten but it was pretty damn good anyway.

There’s only so many things that do it for me and have that crazy interesting impact on my palette. Durians are about the only fruit. Chempedak, jackfruit and some of the more pungent mangoes can be pretty good but tend to have mostly initial impact but little in length. On the other hand, creamy fruits like custard apples or avocadoes have got great texture and some length but the flavours don’t shift and play a jazz piece on the palette. It’s the only naturally occurring fruit/vegetable that is so stupid flavourful, albeit divisive without requiring much intervention from people.

You have to catch, kill and butcher a near extinct tuna before aging it to get delicious chutoro or the same with a cow and a great steak. With caviar, you need to catch, kill and butcher a near extinct sturgeon before brining the roe to produce shit in cans that cost 100 times it’s weight in gold. There’s cheese, fine wine, coffee, tea, Jamon Iberico de Bellota, fermented foods… These all require much in the way of human intervention. Uni is close but you still have to dive into a body of water and hope for little pollution, not to mention cutting it open. So what I’m saying is that not only does a fine durian compare favourably with a Romanee Conti or a Cinco Jotas, it’s also completely ethical and sustainable.

The only real problem with durians lies in it’s divisiveness. True, it’s smell can be like asafoetida to some people. It’s got that sulfuric stench of overcooked egg yolks and raw or rotting onions and garlic. Not everyone can look past it to find the nuances. I wish I had a tasting note for every durian I’d eaten and come up with this extensive comparison based on other flavours.

“Colour is creamy yellow, tinge of gray, flesh appears firm and taut, aroma of blackcurrant buds, Spanish onions,  and black garlic, bit of whisky zabaglione. Skin is thin. Texture is overripe avocado. Fibrousness is low. Acidity is medium. Sweetness is medium high. Bitterness is medium high. Flavour of creme brulee, banana, custard apple followed by Cognac, Cointreau and asphalt. Finish is long, slight raspberry and asparagus. This durian is a Mao Shan Wang. No this durian is Wang Zhong Wang. This durian is from Kelantan, Gua Musang from a high quality producer. A fantastic durian.”

Consider this. Good durian considers farming practices, terroir, seasonality, the producer’s hand, the ripening process, the geography, the language, the culture and the purveyor prying it open gracefully for the eater to inspect. Maybe one day, I’ll finally be that durian tasting negociant of my dreams where like minded durianophiles can discuss if this year’s vendage compares favourably with the great ’83 or ’87 or the percentage of new bamboo tonneaus in the D24 from Johor or the pros and cons of slash and burn versus modernist organic.

Somehow I just don’t think it’s going to take off. Something to do with the lack of alcohol I think. Hang on. Maybe I ought to ferment that stuff huh? (It’s called tempoyak btw)

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