What is the Year of the Durian?
In January 2012, husband and wife team Rob and Lindsay (that's us!) embarked for a year-long expedition in Southeast Asia hunting the durian fruit. The journey took us through twelve months of nonstop adventure in nine fascinating countries as we found seven species of the fruit and consumed hundreds if not thousands of durian. It was a good year.
We dedicated the entire year to exploring all angles of the cultural significance of the durian fruit, in horticultural, symbolism, and gustator (we ate a lot of durian!). We visited many durian orchards and durian festivals, collected snapshots of durian statues, and traveled as far afield as days upriver in Indonesian Borneo looking for the heart of durian country.
This blog is a Southeast Asian travelogue, a fruit-lover's guide to getting around in Asia, and an obsessive cultural and horticultural exploration of Asia's King of Fruit, the durian.
What the heck is a durian?
This is a durian.
It's one of the largest tropical fruits, weighing 4-6 pounds (2-3 kg) on average. Yes, those thorns are very sharp. And yes, people do die occasionally from having one fall on them (If you don't believe me, read the Durian Obituaries. This is no laughing matter).
The word durian is derived from the Malaysian word for thorns, durio. It's most outstanding characteristic, however, the pungent aroma that issues from the fruit once it is ripe. No edible product in the Western World rivals this odor in strength unless it be Blue Cheese, and that is only considered edible by extremely questionably sources.
Yet durian is proclaimed by many to be the food of kings, the sweet ambrosia of the jungle, and the taste of heaven. Within that hard, spiny husk is a custard as smooth as a whipped pudding, sweet as vanilla ice cream, and savory as any garlic bread. It is, in our opinion, one of the best tasting foods on this planet.
|Oh sweet heaven|
Sometimes good things come in spiky packages.
Where all did you guys go?
Here's a somewhat chaotic look at our route:
A list of the countries explored:
What are you doing now?
In May, 2013, we return to Thailand and Cambodia for more durian adventures!
Lindsay is now working on an adventure-journalism book about the year, to be published in late 2013 or early 2014.