Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Re-experiencing Durian

My search for durian continued last Friday morning when I visited a small Filipino market in Long Beach called Tambuli. Again, I found the whole frozen fruit instead of the one in plastic containers. In the afternoon of the same day, I drove slightly farther to Artesia’s 99 Ranch Market, which was bigger and had more choices. Given that I had been hydrating all day, the first section I visited at the 99 Ranch store was the bathroom. I found no durian there. Afterwards, I started on one end of the market then I proceeded to walk up and down all the store’s aisles like a woman would normally do while shopping, to see what I can find. My usual modus operandi is knowing what I want, I go to that appropriate section it can be found, pick it up, then exit after paying. No meandering around the store. But not on this day. I have never been to that market and I wanted to explore.
It just so happened that the first aisle I started on had what I was looking for: frozen durian in a plastic container. Near it, I also found several whole unopened frozen fruits, and at one end of the freezer was also durian fruit bar and ice cream. I made a note of the aisle then continued to look around the rest of the store by going down one aisle and up the next until I reached the other side of the store. In between, I picked up a bottle of UFC banana ketchup (58 cents), Sriracha hot sauce (2.50), and a jar of kimchi (not hot enough! 3.28). I then returned to the durian aisle and picked up the frozen durian = 6.89 (!) and fruit bar - box of 7 = 2.69, while passing on the ice cream (8.99 a half gallon!), and whole fruit (1.49/pound). I paid for them then went back home. At last! Durian in my fridge!
Durian - you don’t just eat it, you experience it. Some like me may take it for granted because we grew up eating it; but when one’s palate hasn’t savored it for decades, the more reason to call it an experience or in this case a re-experience . First timers may have a difference of opinion because what I consider the nice fragrance of the fruit, they may consider a bad odor.
Let me tell you what I know about durian. Other than eating it… nothing. For example: I didn’t know that with ripe durian, there are seams that separate naturally so you can split the fruit open easily just using an ordinary knife. I thought you had to strike it hard with a machete. And once you open one seam, the others go easier. Wanna know how I found that out? From You Tube, of course! Maybe I’ll buy the whole fruit next time and try opening it myself.
Back to the products I bought. I had to defrost the frozen fruit for a few hours and when I opened the container it contained two pieces which were wrapped in plastic. I opened one and tried to pick it up with my fingers but it was too soft. It turns out the seeds have been removed. I had to eat the flesh with a spoon. My impression of the defrosted durian was that it tasted like the durian I grew up with but it was mushy because it didn’t have the seed and also because it was previously frozen. I can now understand why the plastic container was shrink wrapped and the fruit itself plastic wrapped. It was to contain the smell. In spite of all the wrapping, the aroma still escaped the container. As far as size, the two pieces without seeds might have been equal to about half a fruit. The essence of durian hung in the air indoors as well as in my burps that day. Too bad you can’t take a picture and attach smell-a-vision to it otherwise I’d be able to share the sweet smell emanating from the kitchen. The next day, I ate it slightly frozen and it had better texture but unfortunately lesser taste. The fruit bar on the other hand was heavenly. The only difference was that my mother used to make it with bits of pulp while this one had none. In the meantime, the smell of durian has overwhelmed my refrigerator. I could stick my face in there and breath it all day, while my neighbors would probably stay as far away as possible from my place. Despite not having eaten it for decades, in my book durian remains the king of fruits.

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