Durian, the king of fruits. Some like it. Some hate it. But we got to sample a whole bunch for free when my friend, Mr Goo invited my family over to his orchard in the Bentong area.
The durian season was well on its way, and there was an over abundance in Pahang. In KL, it was a little scarcer as the suppliers could not get good profit from the oversupply. Still that would not have stopped my wife and family from organizing a durian fest. Fortunately, Mr Goo invited us over to his orchard on a weekend.”Why not come over to my orchard? Eat as much as you want!” He said. Alright, after making arrangement with various family members we ended up with two cars going out on this excursion as it comprise my parent and parent-in-laws, Kenny and his wife, Rebecca, Lindy, Lena and I.
Meeting up at the Gombak toll house, Mr Goo’s Isuzu lead the way with two dogs at the back of his pickup. His daughter sat shotgun in the pickup accompanied along for the trip, unfortunately, Mrs Goo could not come along because she had to ferry her other daughter for tuition. It would have made for a much more boisterous trip with more people tagging along. Following closely behind, the two dogs at the back of the pickup fascinated us. They seem very lively and excited about the trip moving from side to side and enjoyed the rushing wind.
The way to his orchard was simple enough. We passed by some palm plantation as we turn off the main road and even had an encounter with cows crossing the road! It was quite dangerous because knocking a cow would have caused a serious accident if travelling at high speeds. Mr Goo slowed down his Isuzu for safety and to avoid hitting the cows as they were crossing the road. One of the dogs became excited and jumped off the pickup, because it was still leashed, it hung from the pickup and rolled several times on the road before the leash came off. Fortunately nothing untoward happened to the dog as Mr Goo was aware of what happened, stopped his vehicle, and carried back his dog to the back of the pickup and leashed back his dog.
The rest of the way was uneventful. After crossing over a wooden bridge we arrive at the orchard. Mr Goo let his dogs out and they gleefully ran helter-skelter in the orchard. We went in and could see a pile of durians waiting for us to have a feast. Apart from durians there was also a box of mangosteen, the queen of fruits to complement with the durians.
Of course having traveled all the way to his orchard, we didn’t start the feast immediately but had a tour of his orchard first. We were a little hungry as we have skipped lunch, but nevertheless we saved the feasting after the tour.
Mr Goo kept the orchard more for hobby than for earning an income out from it. This was not his main business, since it was a loss making venture. The fertilizers and upkeep of the orchard cost more than what he could get from the sale of the fruits. There was a time he would have considered started running an orchard and running a bee apiary at the same time. However one of his chemical supplier said he was still too young to retire from the industrial chemical industry and recruited him to promote the silicon rubber and associated products. After a few years of promoting the silicon rubber his company now considered the number one trading agent for silicon rubber and won an award for his achievement.
Walking around, I noted that the trees are all over the place. I would have thought the trees would be planted neatly in rows like the rubber and palm plantation. I guess my idea of a neatly grown orchard was inaccurate. Durian trees weren’t the only plants growing in the orchard; there were also mangosteen, bananas, mangoes, chempedaks, and papayas amongst others.
After an hour long tour, we were rather famished and it was time to begin our durian lunch. Mr Goo took his parang and started hacking at the kampung variety. It is always good to start with the less tasty ones first and make your way to the better durian grades. That way you get to try a variety of Durian and could compare the taste.
Next up was the D24s and D101s. The D24 durians were quite famous at one time. This durian variety was carefully grown and selected perhaps using bud grafting technique to get the desired stock. However, nowadays this grade was considered rather average in taste. Though I’m not sure, I believe the durians designated with Ds were somehow engineered to get the best possible taste. The latest D series that tasted good were the D101s. This variety has a much better taste than D24.
Of course, good tasting durians were a matter of individual choice. One man’s meat was another man’s poison. With the strong smell of durians, it was quite possibly considered poison to many who can’t stand the repulsive stench. Strangely, once you started eating the durian, the smell didn’t seem to be so strong anymore. Most season durian gourmet fan would consider the best durian as to have a slightly sweet and creamy taste with a hint of bitterness. Much like drinking beer which also has the bittersweet taste to it. However I wouldn’t say the durian stench as numero uno. Having smelt the most awful foul repugnant smelly tofu of China; the durian’s strong smell is not that repulsive as I would have thought in comparison.
Next up, was the Mausang and the Bamboo Leg variety. These were considered the best of best. The Mausang Durian meat is slightly reddish, it is quite tasty with its creaminess and sweet taste. The Malays called it Udang Merah or Red Prawn because the colour resembled that of a cooked prawn, while the Chinese called it Mausang. I don’t know which language dialect it was derived from, but mostly like the meaning was also related to the colour of the meat.
The Bamboo Leg variety derived its name from the shape of the durian shell. It has a valley like line running from the stalk to the bottom of the durian. This variety tends to be very meaty, though a bit on the drier side.
Another variety that I heard of was called the XO durian. Unfortunately Mr Goo did not have this version of the durian. At first I thought the XO designation would meant the durian has a bit of cognac smell to it, but it was not so. It seems the durian for this variety meant that the durian was very meaty and looking like a big piece of chicken drum stick. I also heard of a variety called the whisky durian. This seems rare, possible available around northern region of Malaysia. Perhaps in Taiping or Penang area.
Having our filled of durians, we decided to call it quits since we could take no more. Being in the orchard, we could simply just chuck any of the unwanted portions onto the ground to be recycled as fertilizer. No need to call city hall rubbish collectors to remove the garbage. Besides, the dogs reared by Mr Goo were just simply crazy about durian. They would sit and wait for us to throw down any durian, and they would gleefully chew up the durian seed to pieces with their strong jaw. Never feed them with your bare hands! I thought I could be friendly and give a piece of durian with some meat in it for one of the dogs. The dog didn’t find that as a friendly gesture and gave me an unfriendly bite at my fingers. Ow! Though it didn’t draw blood but it was rather painful. I guess I never learn, dogs are not to be trifled with even though they appear to be friendly. I had to get a tetanus shot once, when I attempted to pat a seemingly docile dog, but that dog decided to give an unfriendly nip at my fingers giving me a handsome gash on my middle figure. The scar is still there. A reminder that animals though may appear friendly can suddenly turn at you.
Durians are rather “heaty” as we Chinese refer to these kinds of food that made our metabolism go higher and our body would feel warmer than usual. Some of the dogs that were kept at the orchard had too much durian until all their furs were shed away. Hairless dogs, they looked pretty awful. I thought they had some kind of skin disease but in actual fact they just had too much of a good thing.
Since there were still many unopened durians left over, Mr Goo asked us to take back home and enjoy. Rolled up a trolley and started choosing some of the better durians for us to take back. I think all in all we packed about 30 durians at the trunk of my car. And that was not all; we also took back some mangosteen, chempedak, papaya, and bananas too. That said, my car was totally unbreathable for the rest of the journey. You would get intoxicated with the strong smell. The windows has to be wound down a bit to get some fresh air.
Along the way, we could see mountain piles of durian for sale to the traders. It was peak of the season and there was an oversupply. But we were no longer interested to get down for a closer look as not only we had our fill, but we had an intoxicating amount in our car trunk! And of course after unloading our booty when we returned home, my car was totally soak with the durian smell and I had to bear with it for the next few weeks. The remedy to remove the durian smell is to place some charcoal into the trunk. But in this day and age, nobody uses charcoal for cooking in their house, though some restaurant or kopitiam may still use it for their meal preparation. So where could I find some charcoal to scrub off the durian smell from my car? Arrrhhhhh…!
Related durian post:
Duran Malaysia – a simple list of the Malaysian Durian varieties