If I asked you to guess where I tasted my first durian, would you have guessed Oregon? Probably not. So it was super fun to show Mr. and Mrs. Chang from Bao Sheng Durian Farm in Malaysia just where in Eugene durian entered my life.
I’ve been a guest at Bao Sheng Durian Farm for five years. I’ve been a guest to a lot of people in Southeast Asia. These people gave me their time and energy into helping me see their countries in the most gorgeous light possible.
It’s because of them that I fell in love with durian, and stayed, and started tours to show other people just how wonderful these places and their durians are.
So when Mr. and Mrs. Chang came to Oregon, I leapt at the chance to show them the gorgeous parts of the home I have continued to love from afar.
It’s hard to explain to people in Southeast Asia just where I come from.
Many people assume that America is one giant city. Sometimes I try to tell them that our population density is three times lower than theirs. That the valley where I grew up has 5 times fewer people than Chanthaburi and 7 times fewer people than Penang Island.
That our mountains have rainforests too, just the cold kind, and that sometimes the ferns and pitcher plants and the green of Malaysia reminds me a lot of home.
I like how similar and dissimilar Malaysia is to Oregon. In a world, post-US election, that feels so particularly polarized, it’s nice to feel a sense of continuity. This world is big enough for all of us, but not so big that we don’t have things in common.
That’s why it shouldn’t be that surprising that the very first place that I encountered durian was in Oregon. In Eugene, to be specific.
On West 11th Street, to be more specific.
Most specifically of all, Here:
King’s Market in Eugene, Oregon
That’s Mr. and Mrs. Chang in the parking lot of King’s Market on West 11th in Eugene. We stopped by while driving to Portland from the southern coast.
King’s Market was one of the three Asian Grocery stores in Eugene when I lived there between 2007 and 2011.
I went to King’s most often because it was only a mile away from my yurt. Yes, you read that right.
I hadn’t been back to King’s since I left Eugene in 2011. I couldn’t guess how things might’ve changed.
Things had changed. The entrance looked the same, but as I wandered back toward the freezer section I noticed they had added an entire aisle of open-top freezer chests, which is where the durian was.
Not like I should have expected the store to be exactly the same. I mean, look at my life.
Back then, I was working four jobs and taking community college classes to become a midwife.
Now, I stepped into the store as a blogger and durian tour guide to show my Malaysian friends where all the durian madness started.
The durian was, of course, a Thai Monthong. I don’t remember what brand I used to buy, but I think this was different. Also, the yellow ethephon spot on the stem was way more obvious. Or maybe I noticed it more. Back then, I didn’t know to look for artificial ripeners.
The price has gone up A LOT for durian since the days when I was buying. The first durian I ever bought $1.69 a pound. Total the thing cost around $13, which I remember because these were the days when we lived on a grocery budget of $50 a week.
That $13 was a lot of money to risk on a fruit so stinky it might be inedible. Good thing durians are not only delicious, they’re calorically dense.
After that first D, I got a little bit hooked. I couldn’t afford to buy a whole durian often, but I found myself headed back to King’s every Friday evening to buy a package of durian.
Back then a vacuum-packed bag cost $5.40. Now, they don’t even carry those bags, and a pound of D in a box costs $10.99.
It was apparently, a good time to get hooked on durian.
Watch me show Mr. and Mrs. Chang some of the most beautiful parts of Oregon — from the snow at Crater Lake to the redwood forests along the coast — as well as their reaction to where I got my first durian in Eugene.
Getting to King’s Market For Eugene Durian
King’s Market is located at 2100 W 11th Ave, Eugene, OR. Tel: (541) 343-7333
Use this map to navigate to other blog post from the United States or find durian hotspots near you!
Hope A Cannaday says
Is it possible to order a 50 lb royal elephant brand rice shipped to us in Jackson WY
There are no Asian markets here. And Royal Elephant Brand is very difficult for us to find.
It would be very much appreciated
[email protected] says
Sorry, I don’t ship 50lb rice bags 🙂
Interesting. I browsed some pages about durian and found your blog. I did not know that you are from Eugene, Oregon! I live in nearby Portland.
Anyway, I’m hosting a progressive durian tasting party this weekend for some friends and need to learn more about durian. Your blog helps a lot.
My theory (which has been proven on some friends): If you gradually try durian derivative products to acclimate durian smell, you would likely enjoy the taste. In my first party back in 2015 for coworkers visiting from Mexico, it worked. All three friends loved the derivative products and one actually loved the durian.
My planned durian derivative products are durian candy, durian chips, durian cream wafers, durian mochi cake, homemade fermented durian with chillies and anchovies (consumed with lettuce), sweet rice with homemade durian jam, and homemade durian ice cream (Two Asian groceries in Portland no longer stock them because of lack of demand). At the end, we will taste the real durian.
Keep up the good work!
[email protected] says
Hi Ronald! I went to the University of Oregon.
I actually hate almost all durian products as they often don’t use real durian flesh, but an essence, which I think is disgusting. So your plan may backfire!! If I had tasted any durian candy or wafers before the real deal, I’m sure I would have really disliked it. But I’ll be curious to hear how it goes!
Simone in London says
Ate my first durian yesterday, was fascinated by the taste and richness of flavours. Felt that this must be a very very special fruit.
I then cooked the seeds today to mix with noodles and vegetables (the fruit seller encouraged me to cook or fry the seeds and eat them also), my boyfriend thought they were pistachios in the dish.
Then I came to your site on the internet and my fascination grows. I love exploring fruits and different plants and trees and find it a huge inspiration what developed through you as you let your love move you. Thank you!
[email protected] says
What a great idea to stir fry the seeds! I may have to try that 🙂 Glad you are enjoying the stories and adventures on this site 🙂 🙂
CS Tan - PJ, Malaysia says
Been a fan of your blog for a while, your knowledge and vast experience with durians from various countries really impressed me.
Hosting Mr. Chang in your hometown! Wow!!!
[email protected] says
Thank you CS Tan for reading and being a part of this little community! 🙂