For the A TO Z CHALLENGE, I’m blogging for 26 days in April (except Sundays) based on the alphabet, and my theme is #foodiefiction, inspired mostly by the foods of Singapore.
D is for Durian
I was born on the night of the inaugural Durian Block Party. My mother and some of our neighbours had concocted this party in a bid to foster a deeper sense of community and togetherness, to instill a sense of pride for their block, so they said, but really they just wanted an excuse to eat all the different types of durians with likeminded durian aficionados. This was especially crucial for my mother, who was married to my durian-hating father. My father had agreed to this Durian Block Party on the condition that it take place on the very night that his favourite rock band was playing (One night only! Live in Singapore!). My rock music-hating mother hastily agreed. (Did these two actually have anything in common, you might be wondering, well, they had me and I like to think that I was all they needed).
Whether it was all the excitement, the tantalizing aroma (or as my father would have said, putrefying stench) of the durians, the buttery yellow flesh, that rich intense indomitable taste, no one really knew.
But as my mother finished her fifth piece and reached for the unusual orange-red flesh of the ‘Red Prawn’ variety, she felt a stabbing pain where there shouldn’t be any, knew something was wrong and reluctantly relinquished the durian to head to the hospital with our worried next-door neighbour.
My father, enthralled at his rock concert, pretending to be a teenager again, hadn’t heard – couldn’t have heard – his cellphone ringing. And besides, I was three and a half months too early. He wasn’t prepared. She wasn’t prepared. She hadn’t even packed a hospital bag yet and had to make do with a few things she stuffed into a plastic bag that smelled of durians.
My father finally arrived to take his place beside my mother, an hour or so after I was born. She never really forgave him for not being there during my birth, so she claimed dibs on naming me, giving up on their mutually agreed “Jamie”.
My mother named me ‘Jin Feng’ or ‘Golden Phoenix’, after a variety of durian from Pahang, Malaysia. At least it wasn’t ‘Hong Xia’ or Red Prawn.
Durians are known as the ‘king of fruits’ in Singapore and many other countries in Southeast Asia. Most of the durians sold in Singapore are imported from Malaysia. It has a rather overpowering aroma and as a result durians are banned from the MRT trains and some hotels in Singapore.