How many people get to have not one birthday party, but two? And durian birthday parties at that! While visiting Penang, my friend Mr. Lim decided to throw me a little durian party with his top tier Red Prawn. How lucky am I?
Rob and I met Mr. Lim by accident last year in Georgetown when we were hanging out near a durian stand by the 7-11 on Chulia Street. Every durian lover who has been to Penang knows where I’m talking about. Mr. Lim owns a large durian orchard and sells to stalls all over Georgetown. That day he was in Georgetown on business and had gotten hungry mid-day for some of his own fruits. He had returned to the stand to reclaim them.
He introduced himself as the Durian King, because back in the 1980’s his durian won first prize several years in a row, landing him the title Durian King in the newspapers. When we explained our project, he invited us to an afternoon durian session, where he explained almost everything there is to know about durian in Penang and showed us his invention for easily opening a durian. Pretty cool.
This year, I emailed Mr. Lim to let him know we’d be in town and to invite him to my birthday party at Bao Sheng’s Durian Farm. Is inviting a durian orchardist to a party at another durian orchard a faux pas? In any case, nobody seemed to mind and we got a double hit of Penang’s most excellent durians.
The day after my birthday Mr. Lim and his co-worker, Ms. Ng Goot, picked up Rob, me, and five of our friends at Bao Sheng’s and drove us to Balik Pulau for a little feast. Everyone enjoyed opening the durians with Mr. Lim’s machine. First, Mr. Lim served us D-14, a creamy, buttery little durian which was nice, but didn’t impress anyone.
But then Mr. Lim pulled out the big guns: Red Prawn. I was wowed and honored that he had brought Red Prawn to share with us. Red Prawn is considered the best durian in Penang, and is by far the most expensive. These Red Prawns came from trees Mr. Lim had planted as a young man, forty or fifty years ago, and the fruits were small and exuded a powerfully rich aroma.
As he helped man the durian opening machine, Mr. Lim reminded us that we should always choose small durians, as these are from old trees while the large ones are from young trees. The Red Prawns were heaven at first bite, a deep resonating caramel with lighter, fruitier overtones. Wonderful.
|Thanks for the Birthday Feast!|
Mr. Lim brought a few bottles of his Durian Flower Perfume. I had asked him to bring some for me, as I had promised a friend a bottle as a gift. Going overboard, Mr. Lim also brought samples of his perfume and even samples of a new product, durian instant coffee (not vegan) to distribute to everyone.
Expressive and excited as always, Mr. Lim began talking up his products while he passed out the samples. I began to feel embarrassed for my friends, like I had unwittingly brought them to an infomercial where they might feel pressured to buy something. But I don’t think Mr. Lim meant to be manipulative, and was simply very excited and proud to be sharing his life’s work in durian with a crowd of Westerners.
Durian flowers do not smell anything like the fruit. People tell me that they smell quite sweet and fragrant, like honey. I’ve actually never smelled durian flowers when blooming (they open at night), so I can’t attest to how accurate the perfume is. I think it smells a bit like the gardenia lotion my mom used to wear. If you are interested in purchasing Durian Flower Perfume, please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll put you in touch with Mr. Lim.
I’ve asked Mr. Lim if he could make a perfume that smells like real durian, for gag gifts or for those of that just love the durian aroma. He looked at me like I was crazy! I think a durian stink perfume is a great idea. What do you think? Please comment below!