October 22, 2012

Durians - king of Asian Fruits

In the glorious days of real durians in the real hills of Sarawak....many elders would say they had eaten the best of the durians of Sarawak ...

It is hard these days to "choose" durians by smell, by the thorns,  by the trees, by anything or by any formula....you have to be quite an expert. (However you have the excellent alternative of buying just the durian without the thorny skins in the supermarket at really high prices!!)

Most people prefer to know the "tree" like what my father used to do...He would go to Kampong Nangka in Sibu and look for Haji whose mother's trees had the best durians in the whole of the then small Sibu town.

And still today when you buy from some kampong folks...they would tell you "these durians are from my mother's trees..and I am not lying..."

In other parts of Sarawak like in Miri where durains come from as far away as Kuching or even Sabah..you have to ask..where are these durians from?

Many of the fruit vendors would say..."These are from Serian" (another well known durian producing place in Sarawak)...or "These are from Long Lama..."

Years ago in Sibu as active youths we waited for the evening motor launches from Kapit. where some of the best Sarawak durians were found in the 60's..and baskets and baskets of durians would be taken up the wharf to be sold along the temporary sheds built just for the year end fruit season...and some folks made a large fortune out of that. And nights in Sibu would be really different for a season.

Today many Chinese farmers in Kapit are still bringing their best durians to their favourite politicians in Kuching. Some will certainly keep some for their own children and relatives. If you have some such friends it is always a good reason to cultivate some durian based friendship. A very good durian tree can bear up to 600 good fruits.

Back again to the 1950's and 1960's Sibu, people gathered by the wharf side to buy and sell durians, to talk about durians and enjoy the smell and taste of this wonderful fruit...and some friendships were made too. And some do become sworn enemies caused by some dishonorable sales!!

The friendliness of the durian sellers and some middle men was as temporary as the Landas rain...and soon, like the wet season, the wharf area became a monocultural activity centre of people with hardworking faces eeking out their living...the excitement of the durian season is gone. It would be...may be next season I would see your face again..and renew a friendship...or may be not ....such is life because the motor launch might not bring such good baskets of durians any more!! or where memories serve...one had bought a bad basket of durians and one would wish to punch a face or two!!



Excellent Isu from the farm of a friend - many people like the isu for its special texture. Some people never like it.
The Nyekak is a special durian whch is favoured by the older generation. It is an acquired taste. It is like the blue cheese of the durians.
The nyekak has small and short thorns and is very light to handle. Some are yellow skinned while others are green. The trees have low slinging branches.
These are the thorns of the ISU - long and thin and rathr sharp. Some Isu  fruits are hard to open. So you need to wear gloves.
This must be the Prince of the Durian Royal Family - D168. People are willing to pay lots of money for the fine textured and pleasantly fragrant flesh...very succulent and huge ..if you can eat only a few durians...two of these would just be a whole lunch for you....The durian season this year in Sarawak is a bumper season..There will be a second wind of it soon. But with global warming even the durians are suffering. One finds it even more difficult to CHOOSE a good durian. You need a lucky gambler's luck to buy the best...and to your taste. You have been cautioned. Or you will have to form your own formula to find the best for yourself. Hence the wonder of buying durians..and parting with your well earned money....



11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem is solved if you live in the western world -- most time is too expensive to buy a fresh durian. We pay by the weight. Can you imagine if the fruits are small and shells are heavy? I once paid 20 euro for just one durian. About 100 ringgit?

Normally I/we buy durian frozen in plastic box or bag. They are a lot cheaper and one does not have to pay for the shell! Most of the durians, in Holland anyway, are imported from Indonesia or Thailand.

I have never been one that MUST eat durian. And through out the years, since durians are so expensive, I have trained myself to 'survive' without durians! Cheaper that way :( !

Cindy

Anonymous said...

Among the famous places for during are Serian (at the Temuan vilage) and Long Bedian is named after durian. Are durians from Kapit famous or good? Durian likes hilly or rocky land and Sibu with its peat swamp is not really suitable. Surprise ur father got them from Kpg Nangka. But then the river bank can be clayey.

Anonymous said...

How do you choose a durian from its thorns? Heard someone choose a durian from the sound made during shaking. Any idea how?

Anonymous said...

Ya, make sure there is no holes on the durian for the uninitiated. Otherwise, part of the durian will be spoilt by the pests.

Ann said...

ring yr bro in law to say my last rites. I have been so stressed for not having durians that I am dying of heart attack.
Actually, I now prefer the modern west malaysia types. Sorry. Lots of flesh and bitter and dark yellow.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes definitely. Cindy I am not a durian lover..some years go by for me without any durians...I often avoid passing by the durian stalls because they are so expensive and I do not like to see durian skins strewn around wrecklessly. I still see people eat their durians and just throw the skin without due consideration to others. The rotting skins are not nice to see.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I heard from some experts that you have to strum the thorns as if they are guitar strings. A certain sound gives you the idea that it is mature and good for eating?? If you shake the fruit and there is sound of quite a hard seed against the wall of the fruit then it is good. If there is a mushy sound then the fruit is too old....this is all hearsay. I believe in going for the tree that I am familiar with.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

You are right.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

???

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Durians from Kapit have always been favoured by the people of the Rajang area and especially Sibu people. Now Sarikei is producing good ones. Yes Kampong Nangka has good durians..a few durian trees are still standing....and producing but may be not for too long ...

Valentina Borisenko said...

What is the best place in Sarawak to visit to eat durians? I'm a BIG durian lover, durian fan!!!!! I would love to live somewhere in the nature and enjoy durians)))