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.
You can start from the beginning here.
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:
Did you guys really eat durian every day?
No. But it wasn't for lack of trying. There were a few days, like days we spent in the airport, that we just couldn't get our hands on any durian. So we had to make up for it on the other days.
I only know of one place where you can buy fresh durian in the airport. If you know any others, please do let us know!
Just who are you fruit-obsessed weirdos?Here we are, the Durian Hunters:
Lindsay is a non-conformist who studied journalism in Eugene, Oregon. Finding the program dull, she switched to a degree in Spanish and graduated in less than 3 years. This project is an attempt to live out her dream of exploring the world and being a freelance travel writer. So far she has written for Migrationology, the Rogue Valley Messenger, Living Vegan, and Tiger Mandala Airlines. She accepts freelance work so contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob has used his degree in Environmental Science to explore his interests in agriculture, particularly growing tropical fruit trees. The Year of the Durian is his hare-brained idea.
We are proud to have been featured in:
What are you doing now?
In May, 2013, Lindsay return to Thailand and Cambodia for more durian adventures while Rob started an agricultural job in Sri Lanka.
In October we head to Australia, where Rob will work on a tropical fruit farm and Lindsay will complete the adventure-journalism book about the year.