That’s when the nearby night market takes over.
But on the late afternoon that Jess and I were walking by on our way to Kota Kinabalu’s Durian Street (more on that in a future post), we happened to see one of my all time favorite durians – the deliciously pink Tenom Beauty.
I don’t usually like to play favorites with durians, but Tenomy Beauty has to be in my top five durians of all time.
Anybody who knows me well is familiar with my enjoyment of pink. In fact, those of you who know me really well will remember the 10 years or so of my pre-teen and teen years when I denied my love of pink out of a misguided feminist backlash. I didn’t want to be judged as “girly.”
These days I’m less worried about what others think, and I’ve also traveled enough to realize that while my US culture thinks pink is girly, other cultures don’t. In Japan, pink is associated with cherry blossoms and symbolizes young warriors.
In Thailand, pink is just an awesome color to give taxis, entire buildings, and children’s school uniforms.
This was actually Jess’s very first jungle durian (we ate this before the Ranau or Kinabalu durians), and despite gender neutrality of pink, I couldn’t help but think this was a great start to our girl’s-only Borneo trip.
The durians were piled in a large yellow crate and two boxes at one of the fruit stalls on the ground floor that’s open to the street. Jess and I were walking along the waterfront from the night market, which hadn’t started yet, toward Durian Street near the KK Plaza.
But we stopped in our tracks for these.
The durians were old, and cracking wide open They’d been off the tree for days, which explained why their yellow was a bit darker than usual. But with that pink peaking out of the dehisced shell, I felt certain they were the same pink durians I’d eaten in Tenom.
“Dari mana? Where from?” I asked the vendor. He glanced at me with boredom.
The group of middle school boys made up for the vendor’s boredom. They materialized while we were standing, marveling at the color, and lingered to watch us make our selections, pose for pictures and laugh a lot.
Some of the durians were old enough they had started to grow a fuzzy mold in the cracks, while others had obvious signs of a fungus infection, probably phytophthora.
Luckily, the flesh of this durian is dry enough it seems to withstand time better than most. Even cracked this far open, they weren’t watery or even terribly smelly.
We bought three of the pink durians for 20 RM, and pulled two stools abandoned by vendors onto the sidewalk.
It was so astonishingly beautiful it was almost hard to take that first bite. Like really, this grew on a tree? Are you sure it isn’t bubble gum flavored?
This photo is totally unedited except for the image size. That’s really the color, inviting you to sink your teeth into it’s delightfully firm but giving cream.
Unlike most jungle durians, there’s a solid amount of flesh covering the seeds here, with the texture (but obviously not the temperature) of a chilled chocolate mousse.
Jess was ecstatic, and before we knew it we’d gobbled all three Tenom Beauties up and were poking around in the empty shells for more.
Personally, I’d take a pink Tenom Beauty over Musang King any day. The color just makes me happy.
They say the eyes eat first, so I don’t know how much of my love affair with this durian is due to it’s mildly milky yet bitter flavor, or because I get off on pink things.
C’mon, you have to admit that a pink durian is a pretty awesome phenomenon.
Color probably plays a significant role in your choice of durian as well, whether you’re aware of it or not. Which is why we should ask ourselves whether popular durians like Musang King are really the best tasting durians, or if we just love the color.
But since we’re all different, I bet we all have different preferences for what color we like our durians. Out of curiosity, I’d love it if you would share what color makes you excited when you open a durian in the comments below. Thanks for reading!