Friday, July 30, 2010

Miss Fries and durian

Miss Fries was my Math and Physics teacher when I was in Methodist school, in Sibu, Sarawak Borneo. I admired her for coming all the way from USA to teach us. I admired her more when she told us more about herself when she came to stay with us in 1999. I wish I could write her memoir.

Today, Miss Fries sent an email. I am so pleased she remembered Sam's birthday. Sam was born 7 years after Andrew died. He is my pride and joy. God made me whole again.

Sam started reading very early, and here he is at two years old reading to my American teacher. She was so impressed that she made a recording of him reading to take back to America.

There are many stories about this revered King of fruits. How do I describe the fruit. It's like a good thick custard. A good fruit is not just sweet. It should have a touch of bitterness. The best way to eat durian is to squat on the floor.

Most Europeans and China citizens do not eat durian, they can't stand the smell of it. The aroma indeed is so strong, that it is not an understatement that it smells like s***. There is a saying, if you like durian, you will come back again.

When Miss Fries came to stay with us, I was surprised she said that she eats durian.that So we bought some, and I told her," Lets eat the proper way." I got her a stool, I sat on the floor, the water engineer cut opened the durian on the floor of our balcony, we ate and laughed.

Durian is very heaty, it makes you warm and eating too much can make you very sick. We have known for ages that if you put some salt in the husk and add some unboiled water, drinking this concoction direct from the husk will counteract this. My siblings and I may be in the 21st century, and living in Australia and New Zealand, when we eat durian, we still do this.

You must never ever combine durian with alcohol. Some skeptics have ignored this and almost met with their death. One family has its own story to this warning. I won't go into details as this is a very personal issue.

Durian is an aphrodisiac. After eating durian, you have a warming effect. You know what I mean. There is a Malay saying," When the durian fall, the sarong drops." Some people take its literal meaning. In fact, it means people like durian so much that they will pawn their sarongs to get money to buy the durian. If this scenario is true, plus the pungent smell of the durian, it is far from being an aphrodisiac, if it causes fights in the family.

The water engineer and I went to buy durian. He was wearing his summer shorts in the humid Singapore. He bought the best ones, Sultan, Mountain cat or civet, D24 and the bill went to almost a hundred dollars. I was in the car, and he told me to get his wallet from his pants in the car boot. I took out his long pants and cheekily joked with the vendor that we don't have money and would he take the water engineer's pants. He laughed and said if he took our pants, he would soon be selling used pants instead of durians.

The queen of fruits, is the mangosteen. According to the Singaporeans and West Malaysians, the mangesteen is cooling, and hence an anecdote to eating too much durian. I learned this from my friends C.P. and S.L. Across the South China Sea in Borneo, it is believed that if you eat mangoesteen, you must not eat sugar, or you will die. I never had any mongoesteen when I was a child. My parents were cautious, they didn't want any of us 9 kids to die. I queried Dad, "But I will not eat sugar." Dad replied, it is not just white sugar, it is sugar hidden in biscuits and soft drinks." When I became an adult, I ate lots of mangoesteens.

I have lots more durian stories, I think I will leave them in my book.

Just one more for the road, the cultural centre, the oddly shaped Esplanade building, in Singapore has the look of the durian. Initially people got upset when it was referred as such. Soon, it became a term of endearment. Everyone calls it the Durian. Since the durian is such a well loved fruit, why not?


The JR said...

Luv hearing your story. I did laugh a lot about the durians.

Have a GREAT weekend.

Ginny Hartzler said...

What a story, so informative but interesting as well. I learned a lot from this, I've never heard of durian. So people get addicted to this because of the aphrodesiac properties? Honestly, it sounds awful to me, and I would be afraid to eat it! I don't think we have any here. Maybe I could find some at an international food store. I am going out of town today and will look for them.