Gone Swimming

After a month in Java, Rob and I decided to take a vacation from our durian vacation. We headed to the Gili Islands, off Lombok, to soak up some beach time. I'm the daughter of a marine biologist, and I love to snorkel!

We'll be here 5 days, before we head to Bali.

See you then!

Java Durian Farmers

Durian sprouts at Sapto's farm
We met Sapto Argo at the durian festival. We exchanged numbers, and the night before we had planned to leave Java, he gave us a call and offered to take us on a durian tour of his hometown, Ambarawa.

Ambarawa is a small town set high in the mountains of Central Java. Walking around town, I was constantly in awe of the gorgeous green landscape with sweeping views of rice paddies and volcanoes. I wished we had spent our time waiting for the fruit-tasting competition here, instead of hiding in our hotel from the smog-infused streets of Magelang! We would certainly have enjoyed our time in Java more if we'd discovered Ambarawa weeks ago.

Recipe: Durian Ile Flottante

photo from Hunger Hunger

French people enjoy stinky foods. Between andoillette, camembert, munster, and the fact the no one on the subway wears deodorant, I'm not sure if they have any sense of smell left. They certainly shouldn't mind the odor of durian.

I think this recipe, a combination of the stinkiest of fruits with a french dessert, is a perfect fit. Ile Flottante is a French dessert meaning "Floating Island." It's very similar to another French creation, œufs à la neige ("eggs in snow"), the only difference being that ile flottante usually includes alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits or cookies.

Durian Tasting Competition, Day 2

Papaya fish with longans for eyeballs!

We had an exciting day at the Soropadan Horticultural festival. It was even more crowded today than yesterday. The parking lot was jam-packed with cars parked every which away. I think almost everyone was parked in! There were a surprising number of large black SUVs and other expensive looking vehicles. Joko said they belong to the staff of the governor and the Vice-Minister of the Farming Department

I really loved the displays at the Fruit Carving Competition. Everyone did such an amazing job! A number of the contestants made marine themed displays. I wonder if they knew I have been dreaming of snorkeling in Lombok!

Durian Fair Day 1 | Central Java, Indonesia

We just got back to our hotel from Day 1 of the horticultural fair in Soropadan, Central Java. It's a celebration of Indonesia’s first export of vegetables to Singapore, as well as a 4-H style competition with prizes for best duku, mangosteen, avocado, salak, and of course, durian. Why else would we be here?

Durian Petruk: Java's Favorite Durian

“Durian Petruk is always better,” said the girl working front desk at our hotel in Jepara. She giggled, amused that two foreigners were asking about durian.

We were first introduced to durian Petruk by Sabar, the businessman who showed us Jakarta’s durian scene. Petruk is the most well-known variety in Java, and its peculiar shape and flavor has made it a favorite. The fruit also shares its name with a puppet in traditional Javanese theater. Sabar didn’t know why, but said that he had always been interested in the connection. I promised to try to find out what that connection is.

News of the Durian: Pure Fruit documentary

Recently a documentary has been released featuring two fruitarian friends of ours, Mango and Kveta. They are ethical fruitarians and live on nothing but fruit - no grains, seeds, or vegetables. They even eschew one of Lindsay's favorites - the coconut! They obviously have a great appreciation for fruit, and that includes the almighty durian.

In this clip the two share a durian, while Kveta explains how they fell in love. Durian is thought by many cultures to be an aphrodisiac - could this have something to do with it?? hmmm.

A little later the couple introduce durian to some picnickers at a campground. One of the girls asks Mango where fruitarians get their protein from. Mango could have said "durian!". According to many Indonesians we meet, durian is a high protein fruit. (at about 3% protein, it's actually about average for fruit).

Emile Bokaer produced the film for his thesis project at Stanford University. For a low budget film, it's a beautifully crafted piece of work. We particularly enjoyed seeing many people we have met in our past travels on the screen, as well as the durian snippets :)

Raw Vegan Vanilla Durian Ice Cream

This recipe is from the Raw Goddess Heathy, who was my go-to girl when I first went raw. I still snoop around her site from time to time, especially when I'm trying to get some ideas on making something a little more gourmet. I don't typically use her recipes verbatim, because I tend to disagree with at least one of the ingredients in each recipe. In this recipe, the criminal item is agave: I don't like the slightly metallic taste that agave leaves in my mouth, and I don't believe its a whole food. I would either substitute date puree or simply forgo a sweetener. Durian is pretty sweet on its own.

Vanilla Durian Ice Cream
Recipe from Sweetly Raw

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup durian 
  • 3/4 cup agave
  • 1/4 cup agave powder (or substitute soaked dates)*
  • Seeds of 2 vanilla beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or dried, to taste)
  • A few pinches of salt
 * If you choose to use soaked dates, just soak them in 4 cups of water and use the sweetened soak water instead of the water that's called for.
  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Chill the mixture for a few hours in the fridge. 
  3. Process it in an ice cream maker. 
  4. Allow it to firm up further in the freezer for a few hours.

Can't... breathe...

Walking a city street in Indonesia is a health hazard. Not because I’m afraid of getting hit by a car – that’s not going to happen in the slow moving traffic - but because of all the noxious fumes I’m inhaling.
Rob and I began to notice the effects in Bogor, where every afternoon I would develop a headache. I’m not a headache person. Before spending 5 days in Bogor, I could probably count on my fingers the number of headaches I’ve had in my life. I felt like I could feel the weight of the particulate on my skin, and when we washed our clothes, the rinse water turned black.

The Durian Judge

Mt. Salak over Bogor; photo from Always Restless Feet

Bogor is home to the Center for Tropical Fruit Research (Pusat Kajian Buah Tropika), a branch of Bogor Agricultural University, where I had the very good fortune of meeting with Dr. Sobir Ridwani, a specialist in durian.

Warso Durian Farm

With a population of 1.5 million, Bogor hardly seems distinct from Jakarta, located only 60 km to the north. Dominated by tangled masses of minibuses, Bogor may have the worst traffic we've experienced. The traffic came to a noxious standstill the one time Rob and I used public transportation, prompting us to simply get off and walk. Despite being painfully urban, Bogor is a prominent horticultural research center in Indonesia, and one of the main sources of durian in Jakarta. I had an appointment with Dr. Sobir Ridwani of the Center for Tropical Fruit Research on Monday, so we spent the weekend in Bogor.

Jakarta: The Big Durian

Jakarta is huge. A sprawling leviathan of 15 million people, it’s like L.A. on crack. Hordes of motorcycles pour down the streets, winding between cars and spilling over onto sidewalks, where they dodge pedestrians and potholes. The air smells slightly deadly, a mixture of car exhaust and blue-gray barbecue smoke from the many food carts and outdoor restaurants.  It’s nicknamed “The Big Durian” for a reason, but unlike the fruit I can’t get past the smell.

Back to Medan: A Night at Ucok Durian

There’s one place to go for durian in Medan – to Ucok Durian, located on Iskandar Muda.

Actually, there is durian all over the city, but Ucok’s is by far the most popular. “I really think the durian is better here,” said Lydia Laluyan, who visits the stand about 3 times a week with her husband, George.

Ucok’s  is so popular that last year he opened a second durian stall. He now sells 5,000 durians a day between the two locations.

Under the Durian Tree

When a friendly young man wanting to exercise his English struck up a conversation with us, the topic was somehow steered to durian (smells like an obsession, eh?). We learned that everyone agrees the most delicious durian is from Parongil, a nearby village. We got excited, feeling we'd caught the the stinky sweet scent of adventure, and decided to investigate. We packed up our bags and headed for the bus station.