Tuesday, 11 December 2012

What's in a name, really!

During my last visit to the Bao Sheng Durian Farm last Friday with my brothers-in-law, I was asked to hold onto Jackie Chan's wife. And I obliged. But don't get me wrong. She wasn't there in person. All I was asked to do was to hold this durian which had been named after her.

So allow me introduce you to Lin Feng-jiao. Why it is so called, I don't know. But I do know that I won't be exactly happy if someone names a fruit after me, even with my consent. Will it be a credible honour? Or will it be a dubious honour? Anyway, now you have been properly introduced to the Lin Feng-jiao durian, you can start to get to know this fruit better. I know I did. And my brothers-in-law can vouch for me.

Let me add that the many varieties of durian on the local market have all sorts of exotic names. Maybe about 10 or 20 years ago, we would only hear of the D11 or D25 or D604 but today, you would get confused over the newer names. Okay, maybe some of the names are not really that new but they are there to trip you up nevertheless.

Going back even further, when I was young, life was even simpler. All that I was ever familiar with were the local durian kampung -- selling in heaps at the five-foot way of the townhouses opposite the Kuantan Road junction -- as opposed to the humongously huge Thai durian which we would all treat with utter disdain. "Thai durian? Nah! All sweetness with no particular fragrance. All volume with no particular taste. All noise with no particular melody." Yes, all noise with no particular melody, like some political parties in Putrajaya. As a child, I was already aware of the sub-standard Thai durian.

Over at the Bao Sheng Durian Farm, there are at least 10 different local varieties available at different times of the season with the D604 dropping earliest. Then there are the Centipede (Lipan), Kun Poh Ang Bak, Little Red, D600, Capri, D11, Hor Lor, Red Prawn (Ang Heh), Green Skin, D99, D15, Kunyit, Bak Eu and Ganja.

Despite having known TS Chang (Durian Seng) for more than 20 years, I have yet to taste all the varieties that he claims to have. But I can assure you that his D604, Centipede, Kun Poh Ang Bak, Hor Lor, Green Skin, Bak Eu and Red Prawn are among the best I've ever eaten. Give yourself a treat at his durian plantation on the other side of Penang Island, and then scoot on down to the quaint little Balik Pulau town for a bowl of steaming laksa.

At my last visit on Friday, after delighting me with the Lin Feng-jiao, he surprised me with another durian variety that was named Monkey Durian. "You haven't tasted it before? It's from my wife's family's estate. This fruit here is the last from that tree," said Chang.

See what I mean when I said that there are all sorts of exotic names for the varieties? The mind boggles...

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