Durian Puff (6 for $3.50)
If there was anyone to blame for this, it’s not me.
It’s all my driving instructor’s fault.
I wouldn’t have seen D’Pastry if he hadn’t chosen that particular stretch of road along Ubi Avenue 2 to make me do a U-turn at. And of all the U-turns in Singapore, he had to choose this one which allows for U-turns only every two minutes or so and where cars crawl along at a snail’s pace. So if you expect me to keep my eyes only on the bumper of the car in front of me for the whole ten minutes of waiting to U-turn, you’re car-honking nuts.
Somehow, from my tiny seat in the car and while trying not to doze off at the wheel, I managed to make out that they sold ‘Durian Puffs’.
If only you saw the way I jolted upright in my seat, ready to abandon the vehicle and dash across the road. For the rest of the drive, I was chewing on my lower lip, jittery and anxious to the extent that I was surprised I didn’t start convulsing behind the wheel from the mere thought of durian.
See, of all the people that exist in this world, on one side there are those whose hatred for durians run skin-deep, on the other are those who go into violent fits of ecstasy over just one whiff of the fruit (me), and then there are those wishy-washy, boneless mediocrities who flap around in the middle of the fence. For some reason, this fruit instigates the sort of polar, righteous response that one would only think religious conflicts could arouse. We Singaporeans love it enough to have built the Esplanade, our centre of performing arts, purely in the shape of the fruit. You either love it, or hate it. And this is what I’ve said to friends or people I’ve met who feel ‘neutral’, ‘so-so’, ‘ok only la’ toward the durian:
“So you’re ‘neutral’ toward durians?”
“Yea I’m ok with it. Not crazy over it but I don’t hate it either,” person X would shrug.
“Huh. So you’re still stuck in that awkward ‘neutral’ phase,” I’d remark, grinning as I see X’s confusion. “Oh it’s nothing to worry about, you’ll grow out of it. In the meantime, excuse me while I indulge.”
Durian Roll ($1.50)
But somehow the road to indulgence is fraught with much hardship. If you’ve found yourself running around in circles trying to find some shop in Ion when it just opened last year, you’ll understand only half of what I mean. Because by 12.30pm, I was hungry, perspiring like a mad pig with the Google Maps application on my phone running, and had to trek through the main mass of the Ubi Automobile Industrial Estate, cutting through warehouses amidst the blinding flashes of welding tools and shrill drills, almost having to run from half-naked, grease-stained men, barely missed getting maimed by a collapsing stack of tyres and had crossed in front of a dozen rumbling trucks (bearing in mind that I’m probably so small that truck drivers would have to take new driving lessons because of a previously unknown blind spot that exists in front of their vehicle).
The things I do for The King of Fruits.
Especially if it’s cheap.
The row of shops where D’Pastry is located apparently are for wholesale foods and caterings, so it isn’t a wonder that their wares are all cheaper than what you would normally expect. A box of 6 durian puffs goes for $3.50 while durian rolls were $1.50 and durian crepes were $1.80. D’Pastry sells cheesecakes and curry puffs too. But who cares about those when there’s durian?! And for this week only, 3 boxes of durian puffs are going for $10, a special promotion according to the lively lady behind the counter. The boxes of 6 were flying off the shelf right in front of my eyes! Apparently, D’Pastry is getting rather famous after Dr. Leslie Tay’s review on it on ieatishootipost, and it has appeared in an article on one of the chinese newspapers that the counter-lady was handing out. She had to run to the back of the shop to grab more boxes of durian puffs, freshly made! I’m one happy customer.
Durian Crepe ($1.80)
Five minutes, 3 boxes of durian puffs, 1 durian crepe, 1 durian roll and $13.80 later, I was hurrying away from the shop under the counter-lady’s vehement order that I ‘must quickly chill the puffs ok?! This one just make only, then the weather so hot nowadays, must chill!’.
I think that ‘must chill!’ would have been more appropriate if directed at my being because I was going back from where I came from – through the wonderfully sunny Industrial Estate.
I wanted to protect my plasticbag of smelly confectionery from the sun, so I managed to stuff it in my shoulder bag, bloating it up to twice of what it’s size was supposed to be. And that’s how I went up the bus, joining a bus-full of people smelling exactly like the essence of humid weather. I almost gagged, and briefly contemplated tearing my bag open to bless the bus with the ambrosial aroma of my purchase instead, because I figured everyone would benefit from Eau De Durian in some way. But then I decided not to, because two things could happen.
1. I could very well get mauled to death by a mob of angry durian-haters.
2. I could very well get mauled to death by a mob of berserk durian-lovers.
Both of which would result in my untimely demise and the loss of my precious cargo. And both probabilities equal to a big fat 1. Nothing independent, mutually exclusive, or conditional.
Devouring two bright puffs of sunshine when I reached home made me immensely thankful that I was still alive. The choux pastry was moist and light, and the filling airy with the texture of whipped cream dotted with fibrous chunks of durian. This was incredibly value for money. The durian roll was a gorgeous layer of mildly fragrant pandan spongecake with a less creamy, but equally potent durian interior. Among three different delicacies, my favourite was the crepe because atop a layer of yellow spongecake within the delicate yellow skin was it’s generous dollop of durian which was the least tempered with, custardy, fleshy, closer to the texture of the actual fruit itself, that which I love the best.
For those who have never tasted or smelt this wonder, I’m sorry to say that I can’t help you. I can help to convey the earthy, stonehearth fragrance of freshly baked bread, or the enticing subtlety and velvety slide of tofu against the tongue. But the texture of durian is just this: fibrous, custardy, thick, creamy, sweet with a slight bitter bite. Some people liken the smell to a sulfurous compound, putrid and foul, ‘Your breath will smell like you’ve been French-kissing your dead grandmother’ as Anthony Bourdain remarks. But you will still find the man gorging himself with the smelly thing, because ‘It’s like how people love the stench of stinky, runny French cheese’.
It’s smell to me is just this: Heaven
And it’s meaning to me: EAT.
Ubi Avenue 2