I Love Thailand!

We've been in Chiang Mai, Thailand for about a week now, and we love it! This means more when you consider that durian is relatively scarce here (though for us it's not too too hard to find because Lindsay has a keen nose and a biological durian compass). Regardless, it's a charming city.

Nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is currently enjoying its hot, dry season. This is excellent for us because we love the heat, but it is also when the rice farmers burn their fields. So when we arrived the sky was a smoky grey and the sun a gorgeous red disk.

Welcome to Thailand

After 2 months in Indonesia, Rob and I are excited to visit a new country! We exited the airport with fingers crossed, hoping for something a little different. After the wild traffic and pollution of Java, Bangkok seemed quiet, clean, and orderly. We thought this was funny, as Bangkok has quite the reputation. I guess we can adapt to anything!

We really enjoyed the presence of the Buddhist monks, who we first spotted on the subway. The color of their clothing makes it hard not to notice them. Dressed in full-length orange and ocher robes, they looked out of place among the cell-phone and I-pad toting passengers.

Recipe: Durian Muffins

photo by Aunty Yohana
Durian Muffins are essentially breakfast cupcakes. They're a little less sweet, don't have frosting, and tend to have some kind of fruit or nut in them so we can feel we're kicking off our day with something healthy.

But like cake, muffins are a little special. They're not something people typically eat every single day, like toast or cereal. In my family, my mother prepares blueberry muffins for breakfast on Christmas and Easter.  Durian muffins are just that much more special. Here's one more recipe to add to the collection of baked durian goods.

Recipe: Very Easy Durian Pie (Vegan Friendly!)

I have always thought of pie as something that is difficult to make. Add durian to the equation and it sounds nearly impossible. That's why I was so impressed when I came across this recipe for a durian pie using filo dough as the crust. 

I doubt this combination would ever have come about naturally. Filo dough originates in Greece, about 6,500 miles (10,000 km) from the nearest durian. Even Alexander the Great didn't make it that far! That's in part why I was so surprised to discover that blogger Rita, the mastermind behind this lazy man's pie, is from Hong Kong. They sell filo dough in Hong Kong? I never knew!

Bali Wholesale Market

If you want cheap fruit in Bali, you have to go to the market early. And by early I mean really early, way before the sun has risen.

Rob and I found this out from Bege, the owner of a local fruit and vegetable warung that we’ve been frequenting for his massive, beagle-sized papayas from Java. Still looking for a lead on the durian scene, I asked Bege if I could go with him to the market to look for durians. He said sure, and invited me to go with him the next morning: at 2 AM.

Bali Durian Hunt Commences

It's the end of durian season here on Bali, and the durian pickings are getting slim. Balinese who don't care for durian tell us that durian season is over, although those in the know tell us its still a good time for the fruit.

Our first stop was Ubud Market, a cluttered labyrinth of shops with fruit vendors scattered among the colorful tourist trinkets. We found a few ladies selling durian, coconuts, and flowers. Made, the woman in the red blouse below, told us her durian came from the two trees behind her house in Payangan, a village about 30 minutes north of Ubud.

The Stinkiest Fruit: Wani

Richard Sterling wrote that durian smells like “pig-shit, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” Others who share his opinion have added blue cheese, rotting meat, public toilets, and dog farts to the list of interesting odorific comparisons. I actually quite like the odor of durian. To me it smells like… durian, which equals vanilla delicious. But I can’t stand the smell of the Balinese white mango, also called the Wani in Balinese or the Binjai in Malay. The slightest whiff of it activates my gag reflex.

Suprise in Monkey Forest

When Lindsay and I arrived in Ubud, Bali our first order of business was finding her Ashtanga yoga school. To do so we had to pass through the magical Monkey Forest, one of the city's primary attractions. As is usual, we were traveling with a fruit supply. I was carrying a grocery bag full of bananas in my left hand, and using my right to eat a wani, the Balinese white mango. This was a pretty messy enterprise: Picture a beard full of wani even before the monkeys got involved.

Dehydrated Durian

  • Durian flesh
1. Spread durian flesh onto a teflex sheet.

2. Dehydrate at 110 degrees for about 8 hours, flipping the durian onto the mesh about half way.

Dehydrate longer for a dryer texture.

For a decadent treat, dip in your favorite chocolate avocado pudding or chocolate sauce.