More on Durian Derivatives in Thailand

When we were browsing around in the Bangkok Isetan (together with last post) looking for something to fill the emptying stomach, I was fascinated with the colorful and presentable offerings of ice-cream and other sweet things. (SW and I ended up having ice-cream instead of a curry rice).

Durian Ice Cream at the Central World Isetan Bangkok Thailand

Durian Ice Cream at the Central World Isetan Bangkok Thailand

I noticed that they had durian flavor, which is unusual but I suppose not so unusual for Bangkok. One thing I usually observe at ice cream parlors is the popularity of the various flavors. It isn’t always easy to tell which flavors are the most popular, simply because:

1. If its really popular then the box would have been renewed and therefore the ice cream box would be full

2. If its not so popular, its been there a long time and just been gradually scooped away

3. It might be a new flavor that’s just been added.

4. Time of year (hot season?)

A quick look at this photo tells you that based on point no. 2, ranking of popularity would be (in order of least liked flavors)

1. Chocolate Beans

2. Peach

3. Rum Raisin

4. Durian (Probably a tie between 3 & 4)

Or could these be the top 4 most popular flavors as in point no. 1?

I look forward to hearing what you think.

Next, the Mochi counter.

Durian Flavored Mochi Anyone?

Durian Flavored Mochi Anyone?

If you’re not sure what a Mochi is, you can find it here. Essentially a paste made of sticky rice and moulded into a shape, these ones were bite sized half planets that looked creamy and dreamy. I was really tempted to try one but SW would have put me on a guilt trip as I already had the ice-cream in my hand.

From the 3 row stacks of the Durian flavored Mochi, I concluded that it must indeed be quite a popular flavor, perhaps people purchase it as a surprise gift for others…

SW and I have always believed that we prefer the real durian rather than derivatives of it but actually it totally depends on how it is made and whether it is fresh. The texture is definitely not the same, but sometimes it can surprise you.

Would something like this be popular in the US or Europe?

I will try it.

Maybe next time.

Durian Aroi Mak Mak?

Oh Yum. I was in Bangkok for a few days for work last week and indulged in all kinds of local fruit. The most impressive being the Thai mango, Thai jackfruit (nangka) and pomelo. Eh, what heppened to the Durian?

Well, at the Gourmet Supermarket (Basement, Siam Paragon, most awesome supermarket in Asia), it was this marvellous poster that brought my attention to the durians being sold at the supermarket.

Durian Advertisement at Gourmet Supermarket, Bangkok

Durian Advertisement at Gourmet Supermarket, Bangkok

I really love how the poster reads: “Fruit Fest ’09

Amazing King and Queen of Fruits” (featuring Durian and Mangosteen) and

Only the very best has been selected for you

The poster must have been more than ten feet long and at least 5 feet wide hanging from the ceiling. Impossible to miss as you’re walking by.

So, I headed for the durian counter to see what was available.

Only 2 packs of Thai Durian left at the Gourmet Supermarket

Only 2 packs of Thai Durian left at the Gourmet Supermarket

There wasn’t much- only 2 packs. Are the durians that good that it was almost completely sold out that there are only 2 packs left? Or was it that these 2 packs just happen to be no good and are therefore left on the shelf…

Unconvinced, I left them as they were and decided to reserve the tastebuds for another day and bought the jackfruit and guava instead.

Do Durian Plants Sleep at Night?

What a funny question. Why should plants sleep? Just like us, they need to conserve power, reduce water consumption and also snuggle down to keep warm and away from predators I suppose. No, seriously, its true. Plants have circadian rhythms just like us and this is reflected in how they control their leaf movements. Of course not all plants make it that obvious. If you’re in the tropics, Rain trees exhibit this behaviour very clearly (oh all those Biology classes come flooding back to me now) and it is a delight to observe the leaves fluttering in the wind in the daytime but hanging droopy and tightly closed in pairs at night, giving the tree a melancholic, sparse appearance.

I didn’t think much of this until recently when I’ve been observing my little durian plant SS No. 1 at night. Initially, I was under the impression that I was depriving it of water which is why the leaves were so droopy. But I knew this wasn’t the case as come morning, the water could be clearly seen and felt as the soil was indelibly wet. Hmm, what could it be? I decided to use my empirical powers over the course of a week to ascertain if it could be that durian plants have circadian rhythms.

In the olden day magicians’ tone of voice: OBSERVE!

Durian Circadian Leaf Movement TV Day and Night

Durian Circadian Leaf Movement TV Day and Night

The photo on the left was taken at approximately 10:30 am and you can see how the Durian plant responds so well to the morning sunlight.

The photo on the right was taken at 11:30 pm at night* and you can see how the leaves have flattened themselves against the stem. Even if you try to lift the leaves, you can detect the tension in the branches curling the leaves inwards.

* Photo has been lightened up considerably as it was quite dark and taken without flash.

Durian SS No. 1 Side view Circadian Rhythm

Durian SS No. 1 Side view Circadian Rhythm

OK, I know its not exactly the same perspective but I turn the pot around frequently and forget which angle I took the photo of SS No. 1 last time. Despite that, you can tell that the leaves are extended out in the daytime and huddled in at night.

It is interesting that the leaves do not close (fold in half) at night and are merely pulled in to lie almost flat against the stem. The angle and degree of extension and contraction seem fairly significant. Plant circadian rhythms have been extensively studied but I’m not sure if anyone has ever studied it in Durians. It would be wonderful if I’m the first to describe it with pictures here. 🙂

The Progress of the Stinky Spike Durian Plant No. 1

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that my first little durian seed went from germination to plantlet and is now (I think) quite a proper little plant. It still has leaves that you can count on both hands but this I hope is only the start of what is to come. I realize that it is difficult to give a proper perspective of how much the plant has grown, so I’ve compiled a short series, which I name the “September Series” (although the first photo starts at the end of August) to illustrate the changes taking place within a relatively short space of 4 weeks. This is pretty much the fastest change that I’ve seen in SS No.1 and feel that it is worth noting. In order to provide you with a bit of perspective, all the photos are intentionally taken from the top view approach, which gives you an idea of the plant relative to its coverage of the soil.

Durian Plant SS No. 1 TV 270809

Durian Plant SS No. 1 TV 270809

At the end of August before Merdeka Day, I left it over the celebration weekend unsure if it was going to make it. The original leaves that had developed within the seed kernel were totally brown and dead, forcing new branches and leaves to form at the sides of the stem (tree bark?).

Durian SS No. 1 TV 150909

Durian SS No. 1 TV 150909

Of course, I returned to find the durian plant alive and still slowly growing. But at this point, you will recall that I was worried about the soil drying out and proceeded to cling film part of the pot to prevent excessive dehydration. But the plant still has to breathe, hence the slit in the cling film to give it vertical growing space.

Durian Plant SS No. 1 TV 250909

Durian Plant SS No. 1 TV 250909

The marvellous little thing surprised me when the leaves opened and displayed how broad and long they could be. The small fragile leaves stay very tight and closed during growth but once ready, open up into leaves as long as 4cm and 2cm in width. Not bad at all.

You can see that I decided to remove the cling film but it was a tentative decision and I left the cling film on ths side initially as I wasn’t sure if the soil was going to dry out quickly. The reason why I took it off was because I had accidentally over-watered it, and my pot doesn’t have drainage holes at the bottom so water was collecting in puddles at the top which gave me great distress….

Durian Plant SS No. 1 TV 300909

Durian Plant SS No. 1 TV 300909

So far so good, we made it to the end of the month without SS No. 1 keeling over! The soil has dried out quite noticeably and I’m refraining from watering it for another few days so that it can soak up the rest of the water underneath which I can’t see.

It is quite obvious now that the durian plant is gradually spreading out its area of soil coverage and will soon occupy more than 50% of the Top View. I’m waiting to see how long that will take and keep you posted.