Globalization happened, I know this. Fruits have been crossing borders and jumping hemispheres for hundreds of years. I don’t give a second thought to the orange trees blossoming all over California or the plums and cherries that dot my hometown. Yet somehow I was still surprised to actually find durian growing in Puerto Rico, so close to home.
In my imagination, durian will always be a powerfully odoriferous spike ball
plummeting through the jungle canopy into the waiting maws of tigers,
elephants, and tattooed tribal people. Even though I’ve eaten far more durian in cities than under trees (and in upstate New York, for Pete’s sake) it’s always retained a sort of primal, mystical Asianness. Like the Buddha and snake temples and foggy, humid mountains.
Puerto Rico has it’s own mystique. It is, after all, a mountainous island jungle. But the very best durians are created by a somewhat mysterious combination of factors: soil type, nutrients, elevation, heat, wind, rain, dryness. I felt confident that durian could grow in Puerto Rico, but would it taste like the real deal?
And did that mean that instead of making the 13 hour sojourn to Southeast Asia, American durian fanatics could just hop down to P.R. for their fix? That would be nice.