This afternoon we welcomed back a Malaysian lady who had stayed with us last year. This time, however, she arrived with her husband as well as two friends to stay for three nights at our Bowness guest house. It was lovely to see Yvonne again and also to meet her husband and friends.
The kindly Yvonne arrived bearing gifts. Knowing how much I miss Singaporean food, she brought with her some durian sweetmeats. I love durian. I know that it is one of those fruits that people either adore or hate. However, I had grown up eating this king of fruits and would happily tuck into fresh or frozen durian, durian cake, durian ice cream and durian puffs anytime!
My husband and children like durian too. Recently, I managed to track down some Thai durian cake at a Chinese supermarket. Not knowing whether it was of good quality or not, I bought one roll. Most of it found its way down Hubby’s gullet. When I told Yvonne this, she asked me whether I was sure he is not a Singaporean in disguise.
Hubby, of course, is Scottish through and through. He has the most adventurous palate though and will try food from South East Asia that I will not eat. For example, he will very happily tuck into braised chicken and duck feet, innards soup cooked Teow Chew style, Indian fish curry where the eyeball is the delicacy, and so on. These are foods that I avoid but he is the darling of my extended family because of his openness to trying dishes which are unusual to him, since the Chinese way is to show affection through food.
Well, I am certainly pleased that we have some new durian goodies to eat. It came as a nice surprise and no doubt Hubby will help me scoff them. Yvonne also brought packet braised pork soup with her, and another packet of some other exotic soup which I will not eat. Hubby can have all the joy of eating these meals to himself.
Why do I like durian? When the durian is of good quality, it is creamy and very more-ish. I like the creaminess of the fruit and find that each seed of durian flesh within the same fruit can differ in taste and texture. The jackpot is when one finds a durian ‘seed’ without the seed or with a withered seed. It means that there is more durian flesh to enjoy!
Our kids can eat as much durian as Hubby and I. Mum and Dad used to make us drink salted water after feasting on durian because they said that the fruit was ‘heaty’ to the body. I remember how Dad would carefully pick his durians from the durian stall, lifting the spiny fruit in his hands and sniffing them to check that they are ripe. He would then ask the durian stall holder to open part of the shell so that he could examine the flesh inside each fruit. When he had finally chosen all the fruit that he wanted to buy, he would strike a deal with the stall holder.
Durian is very expensive to buy, and is normally bought by weight. I remember seeing some in a Chinese supermarket in Edinburgh ten years ago, where it was £20 per kilo! As I do not know how to choose durians and it was so dear, I felt that I really could not afford the price being asked.
Dad would gather the family together for a durian feast. He would lay out newspapers galore and squat on the floor with durian and something that looked close to a machete in hand. Then he would find the seams in the durians and cut into them. This had the effect of splitting the durian exactly where the segments of fruit lay in their shells. Once a number of durians were opened, we could indulge!
Ah! Those were the times. How I wish I could enjoy durians together with my family again. I can almost smell the fruit as I write. And one would know that a durian was near one before even setting eyes on it! For the durian connoisseur, the fragrance of the fruit enhances the eating experience. For the durian detractor, the smell is a pungent stench! I am, of course, of the former camp. And I am so looking forward to eating something durian again – even if they are only sweetmeats. Beggars, after all, cannot be choosers!
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