Anuradhapura Durian Desert


Durian season is pretty much over. There are a few regions that still have some durian, but it's tough to find and the quality is questionable. We goofed and spent our time in Vietnam, when we should have been here in Sri Lanka! Everything happens for a reason, and it's not like we totally missed Sri Lankan durian. So we're taking the opportunity to fill the durian vacuum in our lives by exploring some parts of Sri Lanka where there is never any durian.

Durian Belanda

Durian Belanda was first offered to me as a sweet white smoothie while Rob and I were traveling in Java. It didn't smell, taste, or look anything like a durian smoothie, and I wondered just what exactly I had just sipped. Always being curious about durian things, and hoping I hadn't just tasted something gross, I went home and looked it up.

Wood Apple


One evening wandering around Kandy, Sri Lanka, Rob and I noticed a small juice shop. I'd been wanting to try a Wood Apple juice, the pulverized beverage of a sweet and funky fruit with a flavor like tamarind cream cheese. We ordered our drinks and sat down in the corner of the busy shop to wait.

Suddenly, a green bucket swooped out of a square hole in the ceiling above the payment counter. Without missing a beat, the juice guy pulled out three glasses of different colored liquid. He put the empty glasses in the bucket, shouted something, and the bucket zoomed out of sight. Rob and I started laughing. We'd heard of hole-in-the-walls, but holes-in-the-ceiling were something new!


Durian at Changi Airport


Rob and I have eaten durian almost every day of this year. While flying to Sri Lanka, we were faced with an 18 hour layover at Changi Airport in Singapore and a possible day without durian. Singapore, the land that caters to durian obsession, came to the rescue. We didn't even have to leave the airport to get our durian fix.


Durian Seed Water


There is a curious practice involving durian seeds here in Sri Lanka, although it's hard to get the full story from the winking old men who talk about it. They'll tell me about half of the story, and then giving me a strange look out of the corner of their eyes, the old men draw Rob away and in very serious whispers convey this manly secret.

I, the wife, of course hounded Rob to tell me what the deal is with the durian seeds. All the old men would tell me was that many villagers in rural areas, particularly the elderly, make a habit of slicing up durian seeds and soaking them in water overnight.  It will turn into jelly, our story tellers promised, and should be drunk (or slurped) upon rising.

Seven Ways to Open a Durian Without a Knife


We've all seen the more boring ways to open a durian; stick a knife in at the top and twist, or if that doesn't work hack or saw it open.

But what do you do when for whatever reason, you don't have a knife? There's no need to go hungry, I promise. And you don't have to be as desperate as one Malaysian durian lover who attempted to squish the durian open by rolling over it with his car. Here are seven creative and obvious ways people have figured out how to NOT use a knife.

Limping to Sri Lanka's Good Durian


We eat a lot of fruit. Here in Sri Lanka, we're really enjoying the coconuts, golden beauties that cost only $0.028 since each! We're going pretty wild on coconuts.

To make a long story short, last night Rob was chopping open a coconut. It was a hard one, and the small cleaver he was using bounced off the husk and hit him square on the shin, cutting through to the bone. This made for an interesting two days as we attempted to care for the wound in Sri Lanka. On the bright side, we did manage to find good durian.

Durian Roti


Roti is an unleavened flat bread made of wheat that originated on the Indian Subcontinent. It looks and tastes a lot like a very thin white flour tortilla.  Roti has since spread to countries with large Indian populations, like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, where its meaning has changed slightly. Roti in Malaysia refers to any kind of bread, including western yeast breads, while this kind of roti is known as roti canai or roti parata.

There are a lot of different kinds of rotis, but in Sri Lanka I most often see rotis stuffed with either savory vegetables or a sweet filling and folded into thick triangles. Durian roti is simply a roti stuffed with durian flesh. It's a popular enough treat that it makes the wikipedia list of types of roti!

Rob goes Sri Lankan!

Two days ago we landed in Sri Lanka, hoping to catch the tail-end of durian season. I'm definitely going to miss the Philippines and all the friends we have there, but Sri Lanka has an exotic, mystical flavor that's so enticing I think we'll be sufficiently distracted.


Philippine Durian Varieties


It's unknown exactly how long ago durian arrived in the Philippines, but most likely it has been cultivated for just as long as in Malaysia, and far longer than in Thailand. One Philippine island, Palawan, is actually thought to have broken off of Borneo. Several durian species can be found there, including d. graveolen and d. testudinarium.


Durian News

 

Man Stabbed Over Durian


A 46 year old man was recently stabbed twice in Singapore in a dispute over $2 durians. Conflict between vendors and customers in Singapore has risen sharply this year and is blamed on the low yield of Malaysia's summer season as well as the opening of exportation to China. The combined result is a 20 to 30 percent reduction in Singapore's durian supply. Other customers report being overcharged after sale, one of even being held until payment was made.

The victim, stabbed twice in the side, reportedly walked to the street where he hailed a cab to the hospital. At the time of writing, he was in the intensive care unit. I hope the hospital will allow him a little durian while he recovers.

Read the full story at Soshiok.

Last night in Davao with Robert Lockhart


Three weeks in the Philippines passed like a blur. I really don't know where the time went. When at last it was time to leave, I was kicking and screaming to stay.

The last night, our friend Robert Lockhart arrived from the Woodstock Fruit Festival in New York. We were looking forward to seeing him again. Two years ago, we met Robert in Australia, where he sells coconuts on the weekends alongside of his chiropractic business. A raw foodist for more than 30 years, Robert is 68 years old and still climbs the coconut trees himself!

Durian Coffee


In 1998, Gatchi and Larcy Gatchalian were owners of a unique jeans store called Blugre. In a spurt of inspiration, they decided to append a coffee shop to their store featuring Filipino coffee and of course, Davao's famous fruit. The Gatchpuccino, a hot durian cappuchino, and the Larcepuccino, a cold durian coffee drink, were born.

Rob and I met with Joanne and Jun Siy, one of the new owners of the five-franchise business. In January, Mr. and Mrs Gatchalian sold the company to five local couples who have big plans for the former mom and pop chain. If things go well, people in Las Vegas could be drinking durian coffee in the next few years.

Durian Donuts


We thought we were crazy to travel the world for durian. Some people travel for donuts. I'm not kidding, Homer Simpson has a real life best friend in Larissa and Michael of www.changesinlongitude.com.

These guys have tried almost every kind of donut there is, including a charcoal filled donut that they describe as "truly nasty." Yet they admit to having met their match in the durian donut, which they found at Big Apple Donuts in Malacca, Malaysia. In comparison to the charcoal doughnut, could a durian donut really be so bad? See below for the original recipe of Big Apple's Durian Donut.

Durian Pastillas


Evaporated milk is all the rage in the Philippines. It's the favored sweetener, and poured atop most desserts from halo-halo to the morning serving of tahu. Pastillas, or candied milk, may be the epitome of the Filipino penchant for sweetened milk. It's essentially milk mixed with sugar and flavorings and boiled to form a thick caramel, and then rolled in more sugar. Like everything Filipino, pastillas are extreme in their sweetness.

While the word pastilla originates from the Spanish language, the pastilla is uniquely Filipino and has nothing to do with Spanish sweets. For a long explanation of the history of the pastilla, see Sugar Pills: Pastillas de leche by a Manila food blogger who either really loves pastillas or has far too much time on her hands. According to the article, the best and most authentic pastillas are made out of the milk of the carabao, a subspecies of the water buffalo native to the Philippines.

Marang

There's another fruit that westerners often confuse with durian (like jackfruit), but it's a closer relative to breadfruit. Marang has a distinct sweet odor and like durian is not allowed in airports, as Rob and I found out when we tried to leave Davao.


*Please remember, all photos published on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Year of the Durian and Lindsay Gasik . If you want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!