Durian season is underway again, evidenced by the smell coming from my next door neighbours and permeating through my own house. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourselves lucky.
Generally speaking, I like to think of myself as someone who has found it easy to assimilate into South East Asian culture. Squat toilets are fine. Super spicy food – yum. Sweaty tropics? Give me more. But when Malaysians ask me if I like Durian, my response is stereotypically foreign: ick, ick, ick.
Admittedly, the smell is far more off-putting than the taste. Imagine rotting rubbish surrounded by a sea of marathon runners’ old socks and sprinkled liberally with blue cheese that’s been left out in the sun too long and you’ll get a vague idea. Not for nothing is durian banned on planes or in many hotels. One person enjoys durian and everyone else in a five hundred metre radius gets to ‘enjoy’ it too.
Here it’s affectionately regarded as the King of Fruits. You can get durian ice cream, durian cake, durian chocolates and durian coffee. Some claim that it’s addictive. Others that it encourages fertility. It’s certainly high in fat and very filling. There’s even a week long durian festival currently taking place further up in the country. I can’t deny how much people here love it.
Now where did I put my clothes pegs?