Easter-time was coming up.  My tenant, Jon,  is Chinese so I am not very surprised when he comes back from the Assi Plaza in Flushing, NY,  with some unusual purchase.   This year is was a soccerball-sized fruit covered with spines that looked like this.

He called it a durian.   It has the reputation of smelling awful.

Naturally I looked it up on Google.  Durian is described as the King of Fruits.  I followed a link that described it as “having a succulent creamy filling but smelling like stinky socks.”  One person wrote that “some of us who held it on our tongues for a while tasted something sweetly strange, otherworldly, and inviting.”   Another link described it as being banned in public places such as subways, malls and hotels.   Hotels in Singapore actually post signs in the rooms forbidding bringing in durian.

As Good Friday approached I planned to attend the morning prayer service  and watch (again) The Passion of the Christ in the afternoon.   It was on Good Friday morning (after morning prayer) that Jon decided we needed to show our strange fruit to his friend, John, who runs a farmer’s market.  In the presence of his bemused friends Jon proceeded to separate the husk of the durian along its natural lines of cleavage.  A durian has five compartments, each containing the creamy flesh surrounding a large brown seed.  In a strange way the contents of each compartment were reminiscent of a fetus and delivering all five sections reminded me of delivering quintuplets.

We tasted the creamy flesh, of course.  Though it has been described as somewhat akin to vanilla pudding, it was oniony.  We had read that they make durian ice cream, but didn’t think  that a good idea.   However, we also read that Malaysians cook it with coconut milk and sweet rice, and we decided that was the route to go.  On the way home we stopped at the Asian market for the required rice and coconut milk.

On Good Friday afternoon Jon cooked it up – with lots of sweet rice, some honey, vanilla, nutmeg and the best coconut milk.   It turned out so-so, a custardy rice pudding.  With well over twelve dollars invested so far, it couldn’t go to waste.  He added sugar and lots of lemon zest. He took it home to his family for Easter.  It was still so-so and was eaten on tortilla chips — interesting but still not a big hit.

I must add that Jon has worked as a baker in the past.  He took a batch of his durian mix, added whole wheat flour, yeast, and fish sauce.  After much kneading,  he baked a bunch of little round rolls which smell like bread and with butter (Smart Balance) were actually quite good. The insides were moist (because of the rice) and they had a nice lemony taste.   Then came more rolls and a loaf of bread.  Also nice and quickly eaten.  Over the next two days he  produced another five loaves of bread, sliced them up and put them in the freezer.  What a comeback!  The durian had risen to new life!  It was like a miracle!

It is said that the durian seeds can be sliced and fried.   We have yet to try that.


Things I thought I’d never do but did:  I ate a handful of dried guppies, also courtesy of friend Jon.