DURIAN THE KING OF FRUITS


Davao City's Durian

Rich with custard-like texture and having a pleasing mildly sweet flavor encased in a powerful thick and thorny green-brown husk, shaped from round to oblong and can weigh from two to eight kilograms and possess a striking scent that many find to be devastatingly rancid. This is Durian, the King of Fruits.




Durian from Davao City
 
In Southeast Asia where the King of Fruits is abundant, many regard this with unfathomable appreciation to be overly addicting with its distinct and heavenly taste while numerous individuals blatantly repel with utter disgust of its overpowering aroma which many find offensive. Varying opinions have been expressed over the centuries. Those who revere durian describe its aroma as resembling roasted almonds with an incredible taste unlike any other fruit suited for the gods.




Durian is abundant Davao Region
 
Durian is packed with vitamins and minerals unlike any other fruit. According to USDA, it is rich in vitamins B, C and E, potassium and fiber. Durian is also rich in Vitamin C containing about 80% with every cup, it is a good source of collagen and is high in anti-oxidants which enhances the appearance of our skin.

 
Coco South Bistro's Sensuous Durian Shake


During one of my visits in Davao City, I had one mission, to taste Durian. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few occasions where I have encountered this fruit but its only limited to tasting Durian candies a couple of years back and my favorite – Durian Chips from Thailand. My mission was to smell and actually taste its fresh pulp. To get an unbiased judgment, I restrained myself from reading any information that may be available. Although I did follow my editor-in-chief’s advise - to slowly introduce myself to eating Durian. During my first meal at the most livable city in Asia, I dined at Coco South Bistro located at the compound of Victoria Plaza at the stretch of J.P. Laurel Avenue and found a pleasant surprise in the menu, Frozen Smoothies. The rich milk shake combined with the creamy fresh pulp of Durian was mind-blowing. The aroma was definitely appealing to my senses.  And for only Php85, I felt like a kid at heart enjoying a tall glass of my new found favorite, temptingly called Sensuous Durian


Durian Pastillas


My first night, I bought a few kinds of Durian-based sweets from candies of two kinds, yema and pastillas. The candied Durian has a very mild aroma, just a hint of a true Durian, with a bit of sweetness while another resembled a soapy smell masquerading as Durian. Good thing the other two were better-tasting.


Blugré's Durian-flavored coffee

Then the following day, I went to one of Davao City’s Coffee shops that made waves a few years back with its Durian coffee. Blugré located at Matina Town Square (MTS) serves two kinds of Durian concoctions, both in the creamy white hue. With one sip of this Durian brew, I became a believer. The aromatic roasted coffee beans blend well with the distinct Durian aroma, though the latter never overpowers the former. It was a complimenting blend every epicurean will enjoy, Durian lover or otherwise. 


Durian Pie from Cecil's Snack Inn Bakeshoppe, Inc.

Next stop is a 39-year-old institution, Cecil’s Snack Inn & Bakeshoppe, Inc. where their Durian Pie has been awarded last December 2009 by Inquirer Lifestyle as having one of the 24 Best Desserts in the country. Virginia G. Sanz, one of the siblings of the late Rosita “Inday” Cecil Guino-o, was the creator of the Durian pie. Having a traditional flaky outer crust and a thin layer as base much like a buko pie, the yellowish cassava-like pie, though it is a bit thicker in consistency embodies the true taste of a fresh durian. 


Durian Roll from Cecil's Snack Inn Bakeshoppe, Inc.

For those who are still getting used to the taste of Durian, I recommend a milder version – Durian Cake and Durian Roll both having the same taste with the exception of the latter which mimics a log. The light chiffon cake gives a subtle rendition than the Durian pie.


Homemade Durian  Ice Cream created by Josie Cartago

As I leisurely walk heading to the entrance of Doña Vicenta Village in the Bajada area, I noticed a sign that says “Durian Ice Cream for sale.” It was such a serendipitous moment I thought, just when I was searching for more of what the Davaoeños has in-stored for their well-loved king of the fruits, I found a homemade Durian Ice Cream. Durian ice cream maker Josie Cartago, proprietress of JBDC Durian Pasalubong Haus eagerly showed her Durian concoctions from yema, rolls and ice cream.
   

Durian-flavored Otap

As if my Durian hunt was not enough, I encountered more of Davao’s Durian blends from Minco’s Durian bar found in local supermarkets which comes in a pack of 12, Durian Otap – much like the Cebu-famed Otap with the same flaky-crunch but having a mildly scent of Durian.


Basketball, a kind of Durian

As I am primed to taste an unadulterated fresh pulp, after having lunch in downtown Davao City, I walked to the nearest fruit stand. 


Fresh Durian

A block away, I could smell a fragrant scent like no other, it was intoxicating and I found myself sniffing the wonderful air as I come close to mountains of neatly arranged fresh Durian ready for my curious taste buds.


Cob, a kind of Durian

Unlike Manila supermarkets that would cost Php200 or more a piece, Davao City’s abundance of Durian made the difference thus only costing Php45 a kilo or even less.
 

Durian kind - Arancillo

Locals suggested I try the Arancillo kind. The fresh pulp was buttery-smooth and delicate to touch, the experience was surreal. I could not get past the sense of touch that I became hesitant when I was about to eat the flesh. At the tip of my tongue, I managed to lick the soft pulp. It was sweet, somehow pleasant, extraordinary. Nothing seems to taste like it. 


Durian, the King of Fruits

The verdict to my Durian mission, this fruit is exemplary beyond compare. Durian’s versatility is a testament for calling this the King of Fruits.

COCO SOUTH BISTRO 
Victoria Plaza Compound, Bajada, Davao City
Tel : 082-226-2626

BLUGRÉ’S
            
CECIL'S SNACK INN & BAKESHOPPE, INC.
198 Anda St., Davao City
T: 082-2279865 / 082-2275305
They also have about 10 other branches around Davao City and another in SM CDO



References :
Burgess, Anthony (1993, first printed in 1956). The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 68. ISBN 0-393-30943-6.

  

"Anthony Bourdain tries out durian in Indonesia". Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Season 2. Episode 12. 2006-06-19. Travel Channel. Video from YouTube. Retrieved on 2008-06-29
 

I have also previously posted another Durian article via my travel blog Savvy Sojourns. Hope you check it out. 

 
The above post is an excerpt from my article of the same title : Durian the King of Fruits and published at Republic of 7107 Island Travel Magazine, Island Food & Cuisine Section under Issue 1 Volume 3.
 
Pie Rivera is a food columnist of Republic of 7107 Island Travel Magazine. For subscriptions to the magazine, you may email them at subscription@7107magazine.ph. 

Feel free to email me at eattoyourheartscontent@gmail.com - I love to hear from you.

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