everyday's tidbits

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Today, when I got to the terminal on my way home, I was the last one to get on the small public transport going to Pasar Lama. So, I had to sit near the door, and missed most of the talk.

This is durian (Durio zibethinus) season. Don't mistake durian with durian menggala/nangka belanda (Annona murocata) or sirsak. Most of you who live in Indonesia, especially in Kalimantan, will have known durian and some of you maybe have a soft heart for this fruit. Durian is a big, almost round, thorny fruit, pale-yellow-delicious-custardy contents inside, with a notoriously-foul (for the uninitiated)/lovely (for us Kalimantan people) smell that can reach considerable distance.

Bringing durian is mostly forbidden or at least shunned by other people in hotels, public transport and airplanes. Like salted fish (ikan asin) and cempedak/jackfruit, you have to be very very careful in packing them if you are keen enough to bring them to other places. In fact, they said, in Singapore MRT, there are prohibition signs for durian.

It was this lovely smell that reached the olfactory cells of the passengers when the small vehicles was running its route. Many durian sellers were displaying their goods along the streets. The price was still high (it was the beginning of the season), but this did not stop the buyers.

"Hmmm, bau durian."
"Hi ih, semalam aku nukar."
"Tiga ribuan kalo lah."
"Apa, masih tujuh setengah an."
"Waninya pian kai nukar durian. Kalu pina darah tinggi."
"Kada papa jua. Asal terasai aja tuh. sebibigi ha."
"Ujar urang, buati uyah di kulitnya tuh, mbah tu diminum."

(Free translation:
"Hmmm, the smell of durian."
"Yepp, I bought it yesterday."
"The price is around three thousand rupiahs, I guess."
"No way, it is seven thousand and five hundred."
"Old man, eating durian can increase your blood pressure."
"Nah, no matter. I just eat one."
"People said that putting salt into the inside of the outer husk, and then drinking it, will counteract the high blood pressure.")

From this, the conversation going on to the talk about salt, salt given on salted fish, the goiter caused by uniodinized salt, and getting further further away from durian.

Those conversation above is spoken in Banjarese, a local language in South Kalimantan, and also in East and Middle Kalimantan.

Durian is believed to cause heat (yepp, literally heat and
"heat"/aphrodisiac, although I can't imagine how the smell of durian in your significant other's breath can turn you on), and it can cause nose bleeding. Durian is also believed not to be eaten by someone with hypertension. I have not read any scientific explanation for these. Eating mangosteen (manggis) along with durians is believed to counteract the heating properties. Old people also suggest to put salt in water inside the thorny husk,
and then drink the water (I don't understand how salty water can counteract high blood pressure). Women who ate durians after the baby delivery and then got sick would get well if they drink water from inside the husk. People who gets sick after eating a lot of durians can also relieved by doing that.Maybe there is some phytochemicals in the husk which cause the decrease of the blood pressure. This still needs to be studied.

Durian has a high fat content. In every 100 g (3 fruits with seeds), it contains 150 calories, 3 grams of protein, 5.3 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbohydrate, less than 1 gram fibre, and rich in vitamin B and C. But its fat content is a lot less than avocado or coconut.

Durian is considered to have psychoactive substances, which explains the addictive behavior of consumed it in a considerable sum, other than the fact that the taste is very gourmety.

Eating durian too much can cause stomach discomfort, mostly because of its high fat content and the fermentation of the high sugar content of durian in the stomach.
Durian is also dangerous for the health of your hands, especially if you try to open the thorny husk with your inexperienced hands.

Beside eating it as it is, durian can be made into cakes, puddings, ice creams, and candy. In Kalimantan and Sumatera, when the durians is in high season, they are made into lempok. Lempok is made from stirring durian, sugar, and coconut milk for a long long time over the stove until they form a thick mass. A lot of durian were needed to make one roll of lempok, so you can imagine the high price of lempok.
Durian is also used as a flavor for kolak. Kolak is a watery kind of food made from brown sugar and coconut milk, the usual primary content of kolak is bananas, or sweet potatoes, or durian itself. The kolak durian soup will be nice to be eaten with sticky rice. Hmmm, yummy! The seeds of durian, contrary with the usual believe, can be eaten after boiled in the kolak soup.

Do you know that in Indonesia, there are durian-flavored condoms, and they are actually succesfully sold?


  • At 8/29/2006 06:52:00 PM

    hi, thanks for the information.
    I learned a lot...

    -- A Chinese who stays in Singapore




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