That was truly the last straw – I believe I shed tears of frustration at some point – so I ask my Bin to take me to Bangkok. Someone suggested Davao but I’m told that there aren’t many of the fruit this year. Let’s be clear that my husband abhors durian, absolutely canNOT stand it, but he’s married to me and has no choice but to love me in sickness and in health and in all things durian, so off we go.
This is the first durian I buy in Bangkok, it’s from the Gourmet Market at the EmQuartier mall. The specimen on the left is Monthong, which translates to “golden pillow” in Thai. The most commonly found durian in Thailand but also its most important variety, it has a small seed surrounded by a large, thick, and velvety pulp. Fluffy in texture, almost like whipped crème brulee, it unites a subtle but seductive sweetness with captivating nuances of caramel and onion. The aroma of Monthong is also very faint but if you’re not a durian zealot like I am, then you’d probably not believe me; I know my Bin doesn’t.
The specimen on the right is Ganyao, also Kan Yao, Gaan Yaow, and Kan Yau. In Thai, this means “long stalk” because the fruit is characterized by a thick stem usually 4-5 inches long. Awash in an agreeable aroma (again, everything’s subjective here), the pulp is superlatively silky but firm, akin to eating chesa, that fire orange fruit with a sleek, cloying texture. Ganyao is also prohibitively priced. I paid THB 800 (approximately PHP 1,200) for those three little lobes you see above. I didn’t even look at the price quite frankly, I could barely wait to sink my teeth into bliss.
My Bin took these pictures of me while I was oblivious to everything (and everyone!) else.
Clutching the plastic bag that contains my darling durian purchases, I scurry to a small garden right outside EmQuartier mall. My Bin follows suit but he is clutching a bag of lansones instead. On a stone bench I sit, placing my precious cargo alongside and releasing them from their plastic prison. Immediately, a pungent smell invades the air: it simultaneously sends me into ecstasy and sends my Bin scrambling for something to cover his nose.
Carefully, oh so carefully cradling a durian lobe in one hand, I fondle its smoothness with my thumb. Raising the fruit to my nose, I inhale deeply, the perfumed air fills my lungs and makes me heady. My Bin is rolling his eyes but I know he’s amused.
Raising the durian to my lips, I take another deep breath, look up, and bite down. The flavors are a flurry, complex and sugary. I taste every element: viscous caramel, a smattering of garlic, an undercurrent of onion, and the caress of cream. It tastes like a prayer answered, and the bliss is exquisite. For a few fleeting moments, time stands still. I don’t mind the humidity, and the excited chatter of people exiting the train station is the soundtrack of this happy day.
So I continue to eat.
And eat some more.
But because I don’t know the meaning of moderation, I end up eating all the durian, too much durian. I bring myself way beyond the feeling of satiety until my stomach bloats like a ball. Afterwards, tottering into the train, I lean my flushed head onto the coolness of my Bin’s shirt; he strokes my hair reassuringly, never saying the dreaded “I told you so.”
As we walk back – slowly – to the hotel, I suddenly feel nauseous. As I bend over a pile of trash situated beside a busy highway, I’m frightened by the possibility of throwing up my beloved durian. “You abused me!” I can almost hear my stomach protesting. “But I flew all the way to Bangkok to eat durian!” I protest right back.
In the end, I get to keep the durian I’ve eaten but I spend the rest of the evening sitting up in bed drinking copious amounts of hot tea. Because you know, I need to have more stomach space for tomorrow’s durian.