I make an annual promise to myself that I will finally – finally! – make it to Davao, preferably in August so that I can gorge on durian but so far I haven’t come through on that yet. I have very few friends who share my ardor for this stinky fruit but we have a bond that, like the durian’s husk, is hardy. It has to be since we’re often banished by our spouses or significant others whilst enjoying said fruit.
It’s through one of my fellow durian devotees that I hear about the ongoing Durian Festival at the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC). Started last September 20, it’s an event put together by the Durian Industry of Davao and the Department of Agriculture. It’s a far trek but heck, anything for durian.
Held in an area adjacent to the QCMC joggers’ area, the festival is really a casual affair. Makeshift tarps provide shade over some monobloc chairs and tables for impromptu eating because upon spying a durian, we disciples don’t dilly-dally.
Yes, I am halfway through eating this durian when I realize I should take a photo to share with you. My camera hasn’t smelled the same since. Upper corner: Puyat; lower left: Arancillo.
There are two different durian farms featured, the larger of the two being JOMARU Farm. Its proprietor, Manny Villanueva, small-framed and spectacled, is helpful and friendly. Just like any other fruit, the durian has several varieties. Though I’m more familiar with the more commonly available Puyat, Manny introduces me to a variant called Arancillo. As you can see in the photo above, it’s pale, almost white, compared to the more vibrant Puyat. Flavor-wise, the Arancillo has a creaminess finished off with a slight tang reminiscent of onions while the Puyat is full-on sweet and custardy. If you find yourself wincing while reading these flavor descriptions, these are quite common terms bandied about by us durian fans, so please don’t think I’ve gone off the deep end.
It’s only been a few years since I taught myself how to slice open a durian so I thrill to watching the experts do it, seeing if I can refine my technique somehow. A few nicks are made on the bottom of the durian and then the natural grooves on its husk are scored.
When that’s done, all that’s needed is to pry apart the various segments. I make it sound easy – wish it was – but those thorns are sharp and the shell itself is stubborn. Ah, the toil before the sweet!
Bottled water and Coke is sold on-site to wash down the fruit. I can’t imagine drinking anything else with durian aside from water but Manny tells me that Coke is a terrific companion. Huh…
Durian products are also sold at the festival including the famous Davao durian yema and durian jam.
So if you find yourself salivating at this post, then you’re a fellow durian devotee. The festival runs until October 14 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle and is open from 5am-7pm. Durian is only P80/kilo, a steal! You can buy the fruit whole or bring (disposable) containers so that they can peel and pack it for you.You’re also welcome to eat on-site, plastic gloves are a thoughtful touch. There’s a faucet so you can wash your hands but just bring tissues and/or wet wipes. Enjoy!