Here’s an idea for the best summer wedding ever: Skip the cake and serve durian! That’s what travel blogger Mark Wiens and his partner did this summer when they eschewed a traditional wedding cake and instead made the ceremonious first cut into a durian. If only Rob and I had known about durian when we got married! I decided to ask these durian fanatics what inspired them to do this, and how their guests felt about it. Read more to see pictures of the wedding.
Mark Wiens is one of those fascinating people who bounce around the planet while eating everything and yet managing to stay thin as a rail. He runs the website migrationology.com, a travel site dedicated to his voracious appetite for cultural experiences and food.
Bangkok is his main stomping grounds, but occasionally he journeys further afield to places and durians I’ve never seen or tasted. Like in Zanzibar. That’s actually how I found his website more than a year ago. I was searching for information about durian growing in Africa, and came across his article titled “Addicted to Durians – I Found the Cure in Zanzibar!”
|Mark and Ying Wiens make the first cut
He wrote, “I happen to be a raging addict to the “king of fruits” and I don’t ever plan on going to rehab.” I knew immediately that he was one of us – the durian obsessed.
I’ve been following his blog every since, and over the course of our year chasing the fruit I found his site to be a great resource. He writes often enough about durian and has great travel info to keep me interested, although to be honest I’m not really into the majority of his foodie stuff. I’m a pretty hard core vegetarian, and sometimes his more adventurous meals make me squeamish. But I love his passion for durian.
I caught up with Mark to ask him how he fell in love with the King of Fruit, and whether or not his new wife shares his addiction.
What I didn’t ask him: how he fell in love with his bride. Important things first, right?
Year of the Durian(in bold): You’re from Kenya, right? How did you get turned on to durian? Where were you, and what was your initial impression?
Mark: Yah, I’m originally from the US but spent quite a few of my growing up years in Kenya. I didn’t know while living in East Africa, but you can find small durians on the coast, especially in Zanzibar.
Anyway, in Kenya in high school I had a friend from Indonesia give me an anonymous candy. He said it’s so good (with a smirk on his face). He could hardly control his laughter as I popped it in my mouth, expecting that I would shriek and spit it out. Yes, it was a durian candy, and to his disbelief, I loved it! That was my first flavor of durian.
I then moved back to the US for university, forgetting about durian, until traveling to Southeast Asia. My first real taste was in Malaysia, and I experienced nothing less than true love at first bite.
Okay, it was mine, but my wife does enjoy durian too (not obsessively, but she likes it). She grew up eating it!
I know you are a foodie – but is durian your favorite food? How does it rank compared to your other favorites (what are they?)
I do love all sorts of food, one of my other favorites being stink beans (petai, or sataw in Thai). As for favorite foods, durian is definitely up there, but I enjoy so much food that I probably have a top list of 100 things or so. So for something sweet durian is at the top, but I have a real love for salty dishes like seafood and curries. There’s just so much delicious food. Gratefully, my wife allowed us to have goong pad sataw (fried stink beans with shrimp) at our wedding too!
What I know is that for myself, I like durian super ripe, yellow, and slightly bitter. In Thailand, a very ripe kanyao or chanee is good. Malaysian is awesome.
How did your guests react? Did anybody try durian for the first time?
They enjoyed it! It was something completely unique and we told everyone we were going to go “cut the wedding cake outside,” so durian came as a surprise. We also had ice cream and mango sticky rice for dessert.
I’m not sure if anyone tried it for the first time, I was so wrapped up in the moment and taking photos that I sort of lost track.
You eat for a living, and I’m sure you’ve tried durian cooked into many different dishes. Is there anything that really stands out to you? Did you consider serving it at your wedding?
For our wedding, we didn’t really consider serving it on the menu, partly because not everyone loves it as much as we do, and also because our wedding was indoors at a nice restaurant (I didn’t want to be responsible for a loss of business for the next few weeks at the restaurant!!).
To be honest, I haven’t had durian cooked in many dishes other than sweets, cakes, pastries, and durian sticky rice. I do love durian sticky rice, but when it comes to durian cake and pastries, I prefer just the real fruit.
I still haven’t tried tempoyak, but I will as soon as I have an opportunity. I’ve seen your recipe though, so maybe I’ll try making it!
For more about Migration Mark, check out his site migrationology.com
My favorites of Mark’s durian articles:
- The Ultimate Bangkok Durian Guide
- Migration Mark Tackles the Durian Fruit
- Addicted to Durians – I found the Cure in Zanzibar!
Planning a wedding? You don’t have to choose between cake or durian. Get some ideas at the Ultimate Durian Cake Post.