Sunday, October 19, 2008

Triple Treat

We are now in the midst of what the locals call the fruit season. Not that we can't get a huge variety of tropical fruit year round, but that there are certain highly prized fruits that appear just once (or sometimes twice) a year, depending on subtle changes in temperature and rainfall. The entire house is almost vibrating with the smell of durian (on the left of the fruit tray) and tarap, the hedgehog-like brown fruit at the back, although the oblong green soursop (right) doesn't smell.

We both agree that the durian is unsurpassed in terms of overall sensory experience. Its pungent odour (like that of a latrine, according to durian haters) becomes ambrosial once you love the flavour. But it's not just the taste. The sticky creamy flesh clings to your fingers, forcing you to lick them for every last bit of the unique caramel-sherry-onion flavour, and all the while, the fragrance is making your head spin. You don't eat a durian, you have an intense relationship with it.
The soursop is another matter entirely. The sparkling white flesh has an incredible balance of acidity and sweetness, but the multitude of shiny black seeds means it is best to squeeze out the pulp and turn it into a sorbet or jelly. To be eaten with little sighs and murmurs that maybe, just maybe, it's almost as good as durian.

The humble tarap must be eaten with the fingers, the seed-filled white globes of flesh carefully savoured as you try to describe the flavour. Is it a hint of pineapple, or peach, with perhaps an overlay of turps? It's a waste of time trying to describe it. Just go ahead and enjoy!

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