The Stinky Fruit

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Durian.

The fruit of Singapore that can double as a weapon if need be. Durian is a lifeline of this society. It is so popular, that one cannot go a day without seeing it, and smelling the odor of well aged cheese in produce form.

Durian seems to fit well into the artistic expression of Singapore. Lavish with public art and modern buildings, even the edgy look of this football-sized fruit seems to mesh well into the uniform of life here. And as any food-forward Californian will have specifications on the perfect glass of merlot, a Singaporean will specify the exact crossbreed of Durian they prefer (D24 seems to be a popular one). The fruit has so many followers that specific flavors have been cultivated- some with more fat to bring out a buttery texture, others with an alcoholic aftertaste… The list goes on and on, and the price range is broad- just like cheese, wine, or any other delicacy.

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Due to it’s pungent aroma, the durian is banned from the subway system and a few other public places throughout the city. But this doesn’t stop people from being able to consume durian in other forms. Even in the train station, one can purchase durian cream puffs, durian bread, and sometimes durian rice pudding. Small ice cream carts sell durian ice cream sandwiches. We’ve seen cafes making fancy durian cakes and crepes. And in the food courts, you can purchase durian smoothies and milk shakes. It is the unofficial national fruit.

We were compelled to try it. You have to when traveling here. On a tip from some locals, we started with an easy introduction- Durian gelato. We were advised to think of the smell as reminiscent of garlic and earthy almonds, since trying to associate the durian with other fruit would certainly send our taste buds in the wrong direction.

I couldn’t take more than a few bites. While the taste was subtle the smell was overwhelming to me. Dave, on the other hand, was ready for a second serving. He’s better at this stuff than me. His wicked stomach prevails. He is on a quest to try more durian sweets while here, and I will certainly be snapping photos to add to this entry as he does.

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