Mind-blowing isn’t it?
If you’ve found yourself addicted to the wily, mysteriously ambrosial custard of the King of Fruits, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
This website is where you’ll find your posse of durian fanatics, fruit geeks, horticultural hobbyists, and travelers who love exploring the world through the hunt for durian. Like me.
I’m obsessed with durian, and I love to travel.
I use durian as my excuse to visit exotic places off the beaten path, as a conversation starter, or to get a different angle on more popular destinations.
For the past few years I’ve helped other people travel to eat durian, too.
I also like taking pictures.
That pretty much sums up this website.
Since 2012, I’ve been exploringthe cultural, political, environmental, scientific, and just plain bizarre aspects of eating durian.
Along the way, I’ve come to appreciate the diversity of flavors that durian has depending on where and how it’s grown. I’ve become something of a durian foodie.
I hope that my stories simultaneously tickle your sense of humor and curiosity about the strange planet we hang out on and inspire you to explore it for yourself.
It’s all rather weird, but doesn’t it make it more fun?
I’m not alone in my infatuation with durian, and you don’t have to be either.
How the Year of the Durian started
At the end of 2011, my husband Rob suggested we travel to Southeast Asia in order to eat durian. There really wasn’t a lot of forethought or planning put into this.
In November we came up with the idea. I spent about a month doing research on a dodgy internet connection from our hostel room in Costa Rica as the rainy season deluge flooded the downstairs bar.
For a year and a half before Costa Rica, we alternated between traveling and working. We happened to graduate from college during the US financial crisis, and when we struggled to find jobs, we decided to travel instead.
“What is the point,” Rob asked one very wet night, “in being in the tropics if durian doesn’t grow here?”
It was an excellent question. We departed for Southeast Asia that January with the goal of eating as many durians as humanly possible while visiting as many countries as we could afford in one year. It was our Year of the Durian, and while we hoped it would be a life changing experience we didn’t have any clue what would happen next.
Just…Why? My Personal Story
Are coincidences ever really coincidences?
The official Year of the Durian started in 2012, but if I trace the steps and choices I took in the years before that, the real beginnings are more distant.
In the summer of 2009, three things happened that changed my life and I believe led to the creation of this blog: I smelled my first durian, I read The Fruit Hunters, and I got married to Rob. In that order. (Note: In 2015, Rob and I divorced. I wrote about it here.)
For the sake of coincidence, I’ll note that I smelled the durian on my birthday, The Fruit Hunters was a birthday gift, and I bought my first durian with birthday money from grandma.
This is only relevant if you know that in 2012 I threw a Durian Birthday Party, which has since snowballed into the Bao Sheng Durian Festival.
In 2009 I was working on a blueberry farm in Eugene, Oregon. I’d recently dropped out of the Journalism School, even though my last journalism class, nicknamed “Info-Hell,” was my favorite. We got to write 100-page papers about anything we wanted. I chose GMO alfalfa.
Dropping out left me feeling a bit lost but open to new opportunities and interests.
That summer Rob and I volunteered at the wedding of some prominent raw food vegans. Throughout the day, I kept smelling something weird. People said it was durian.
It was so strange that I bought a durian right away, and discovered that not only did it taste amazing, it was so exotic it felt like eating a fruit from the Avatar movie (which, coincidentally, came out in 2009).
I think durian resonated with me in part because I’d been obsessed with roses since childhood, not in a romantic, Taylor-Swift-and-hearts kind of obsession, but more of an Edgar Allen Poe fueled teenage angst. I loved the ugly, skinny, spiky vines that rip holes in your skin and are generally unmanageable. When I was 13 I painted the walls of my bedroom in spiny vines. No flowers, just vines.
The duality of roses — the symbol of love and delicacy growing on such an unfriendly plant — made them somehow more beautiful to me.
It was easy to shift my rose obsession to durians. Durians were not only thorny and strange, they were edible and delicious.
The message I took away from this was that becoming obsessed with a fruit is not completely unusual.
In fact, the book taught me that traveling the world to taste and research fruits was a possible career move.
And so, when Rob suggested that we set out to Southeast Asia for a year simply to eat as much durian as we could, I said yes, on one condition. I was going to teach myself to be a fruit journalist.
The problem was that I didn’t have experience or training. We weren’t terribly organized. I wasn’t a very good writer. We started the blog in part to help me learn to write.
It came as somewhat of a surprise when other durian fanatics found our blog and started emailing us for tips on how to travel to eat durian.
Today this blog is a place for durian lovers to find each other, get insider advice on where to go, and find inspiration to go hunting for rare or particularly tasty durian varieties.
I love hearing from other durian freaks. If you have any questions, tips or advice please don’t hesitate to email me at durianyearATgmail.com.
- International Durian Lovers Gather at Bao Sheng Durian Festival. 2015. Malay Mail Online.
- Faces from Afar: Two Oregonians on the Hunt For Exotic Durians. 2012. The Smithsonian
- On The Trail of the Durian: Southeast Asia’s Creme Brulee on a tree. 2014. NPR’s The Salt.
- Seven Questions with Oregon Native Lindsay Gasik. 2013. Phnom Penh Post
- Durian Hunters. 2014. The New Paper
- Sweet Scent of Durian Draws American Couple. 2014. The Star.
- Durian Hunters. 2013. Mail Tribune
- Durian Adventures. 2015. BFM Malaysia
- Durian Addiction Takes Married Couple Around The World. 2014. ABC Australia.
- Careers Unusual: The Durian Connoisseur. 2014. BFM Malaysia
- How to Select and Open a Durian. 2015. Rawsome Healthy
Want know more but don’t know where to begin? Click here to get started.
Planning a trip to Thailand? I wrote a book!