Friday, 2 July 2010

Rare durian experience

I had a most unusual durian experience recently at the Bao Sheng Durian Villa in Sungai Pinang recently. Sungai Pinang is about equidistant between Teluk Bahang in the north and Balik Pulau in the south. So there I was, visiting Chang Teik Seng to talk durian with him when he revealed to me that the best durian to eat would be one that had dropped from the tree not more than two hours earlier.

"It's very rare that anyone would get a chance to experience this," Durian Seng told me. Yes, that's his popular nickname all right. Almost everybody calls him that, except me.

"It's rare because even the durian that people buy in the town (he's referring to Balik Pulau town) have already dropped for a few hours already. Even the ones you see in the durian farms, " he said while waving his hand across the fruits lined up at his Sungai Pinang home which overlooks a gorgeous view of the south-western side of Penang island, "have dropped for a few hours already."

Why so, I asked him. What's so unusual about a freshly-dropped fruit?

"It's about the taste. When you eat this type of fruit, your tongue and lips will go slightly numb," he explained. There must have been a disbelieving look on my face because he quickly insisted that it's true.

"Let's wait a while and see whether my people manages to bring back any fresh durian from the plantation," he said. I looked out into the distance. It is all greenery out there - full of fruit trees - with no clear delineation of where his land starts and where it ends.

I have walked down the slopes of his vast estate before. A 15-minute leisurely walk would have taken me to a small stream but I never made it that far. I ran for cover when I saw a one-metre long brown animal snaking its way towards me. "That's a cobra," Chang told me helpfully, "but don't worry." Don't worry about a cobra? No way. I wasn't going to wait down there and see another friendly critter approach me! I'd rather wait in the comfort of his home.

Pretty soon, our conversation was broken by the sound of a motor-cycle. One of his people was bringing back some durian. "Any fresh ones there? " he called out to his man. Out of the six that were unloaded, there was one. "You are lucky," he said.

He took a look at it, sniffed it and then banged the fruit on the floor repeatedly. "We'll have to wait for another 30 minutes," he said. Well, he is the Durian Master and this is the King Of Fruits. No arguing, I suppose. So I waited out the time while he continued telling me about the various types of durian in his plantation.

After a while, he took a sniff at the fruit again and decided that it was time to open the fruit. To me, the outward appearance of this particular fruit looked the same as any other. Even when it was opened, the fine pale yellow pulp looked as typical as any other too. But when I took a small bite out of the pulp and waited for the taste to sink it, I realised that it was true. Apart from the usual heavenly taste of his durian, I could slowly feel a mild numbness spreading on my tongue and then to my lips.

That's a weird sensation, I thought to myself. How could a durian do this to me?

I suppose it happens because of enzyme change. When the fruit drops from the tree, the process begins immediately within the fruit. The chemical conversion of the carbohydrate slowly builds up to a small peak about two hours or so after it has dropped. If this fruit is enjoyed at the right time, we shall be exposed to the enzymes and products of this conversion. But thereafter, they evaporate quickly and what's left is the normal taste of the durian that we are accustomed to.

Like I mentioned earlier, it's very rare that one can come across such a fruit. You'd need to be around a durian farm for this to happen and even then, it's all a matter of luck. Lots of luck, actually. I happened to have my durian luck at the Bao Sheng Durian Farm and Villa. Perhaps you can get lucky too.

In any case, if you want to enjoy a spot of fresh durian and get a tour of his farm at Sungai Pinang, just give a call to Durian Seng (012.4110600). He has various durian packages to suit every durian aficionado: RM25 package, RM35 package, RM45 package and even an extravagant RM88 package which covers you durian for breakfast, lunch and dinner!


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esteoh said...

Yes, that exactly what i mentioned to Ted that day. Not many people hv opportunity to try that... even for so call "visit to the farm", normally they eat just the earlier collected (dropped > 2,3 hours, early morning, midnight) durian from the big collecting baskets. Its totally different/better taste for this freshly dropped one under the tree.

Wil @ Where's Wil said...

I just had my first experience with mouth numbing durian. I wasn't sure If I was imagining it or not.

selvador said...

I begging grow durian in my garden i kike it