Big news on the durian front this March. A bumper durian crop is sweeping East Indonesia and Davao City, Philippines, where some big developments mean that Filipino durian may be coming soon to grocery stores near you!
On another exciting front, a durian movie premiered this last month, taking it’s place with The Big Durian (2003) and Durian Durian (2000). The 75-minute Indie film, which features a Singaporean durian seller as the main character, had been scheduled to hit theaters in 2012 but was delayed when the film’s writer and director passed away last March. One year later, his many friends and admirers saw that his work was completed. Scroll to the bottom to view the trailer, or read on for more tidbits of durian news from March 2013.
Last month, the news rocking the durian world was that Indonesia placed a moratorium on importing Thai durian. The move was a well intended attempt to encourage local farmers to grow cultivated varieties. But as prices climbed to an absurd $5 USD a kilogram (that’s 48,600 IDR per kilogram. Imagine the average 3 kg Monthong), the outcry was too much and the government is backing down on it’s restrictions. Fresh Plaza reports on the situation.
Meanwhile, in eastern Indonesia durian crazed fans gathered in Tidore to set a new world record for the largest group durian meal. SindNews reports that 13,525 citizens of the island gathered last week to consume more than 17,100 durians. The event was recorded by the Indonesian World Record Museum (MURI).
|The table is set|
In Sri Lanka, the Daily News reports that durian season has already started. The point of the article was to urge Sri Lankans to take
better care of their durian trees, which are often neglected or even
chopped down for use as firewood. The author believes that if Sri
Lankans can get their fruit up to export standards, the pay off could be
If the new trends in India are any sign, then I
believe him. The India Times
reported this month that durian is now being used to treat colon cancer
in India (in addition to fighting men’s waning sperm counts. According
to recent studies in India, durian really is an aphrodisiac).
|Durian in Colombo, March 2013|
It seems that everyone is looking toward the promised cash flow of exported durians. In particular, the Philippines is pushing to prepare for export to Singapore, where Filipino durian can fill the gap between the end of Malaysian and Indonesian durian season and the beginning of the Thai season.
After another successful 10-day Durian Festival in Calinan, the main durian growing district in Davao, durian growers from across the nation gathered to discuss steps to entering the global market at an event called The Durian Summit.
|Rob helps harvest durian in the Philippines|
This is a big deal. It’s inevitable that Filipino durians will become available to durian crazy countries like China and Singapore, but when they do they are going to give Malaysian and Thai durian producers a run for their money. Filipino durians are cheap, and their varieties are generally very good quality.
It looks like it’s going to happen soon. The Davao Sun Star reports that a processing and cold storage facility is being built specifically to deal with the huge quantities of durian in and around Davao City that is currently being sold for pennies per kilogram.
Durian Darrick and fellow addicts in the Davao area, prepare for a price hike.
Durian producers all over Asia dream of getting their durian to Singapore, not only because Singapore has a stronger currency than anywhere else in Asia, but because they have the strongest durian culture.
The latest manifestation of Singapore’s durian love is Durian King: The Movie. It was written by a film teacher at the Singapore American School, David Hevey, who was fascinated by the cultural obsession with the stinky fruit. Hevey passed away after a long battle with cancer in March, 2012, shortly after completing the filming of his pet project. The movie premiered on March 13th, 2013, in the Golden Village cinema in Singapore.
Described as an Indie flick, it appears to be a fruit-fanatics version of The Karate Kid. Disturbed 12-year-old American ex-pat (Aidan Kohn Swift) is forced to work for a fifty-year-old Chinese durian seller named Charlie (Kay Tong Lim) after the boy destroys Charlie’s stall in a fit of rage. During the punitive sentence period, Charlie teaches the boy everything there is to know about durian. Watch the trailer below.
As a durian-obsessive myself, the most interesting thing to me is the film-maker’s attention to details. In an interview with Yahoo News, Lim, who plays the durian seller, revealed that he visited multiple durian stalls around Singapore to learn the part and practice the method of opening durians.
The movie looks low budget and the acting seems somewhat amateur (like I’m to judge), but I for one am really excited to see this movie. It seems to have elegantly captured the cultural melting pot that is Singapore while highlighting and exploring the symbolic significance of the durian.
Next month is officially the start of durian season in Thailand, Cambodia and parts of Vietnam. Look forward to more quirky durian news!
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