When thinking durian in the Philippines, people will almost always think of Davao – and no surprise there, considering that the city where Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte originated from has “sold” itself as the country’s durian capital. Heck, even the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) for “Davao City” pertains to the fruit (!).
But in Mindanao, solely associating durian with Davao City is… erroneous. This is because the fruit grows just about everywhere here; and – this is a must-know – even Davao City sources its durians from nearby localities (e.g. Bansalan in Davao del Sur, Kidapawan City, et cetera).
Head south of Davao City and find General Santos City (near Sarangani Province, where boxer Manny Pacquiao came from). And there, durian is also aplenty. So plenty, in fact, that – even if durian is usually in season during August to October, and prices soar beyond this period – they continue to sell quite cheaply even off-season (say, January).
And in GenSan, if durian-craving, head to the street right in front of SM GenSan; from 5PM onwards. That’s the place that turns as the city’s “durian capital”.
There are at least 16 varieties of durian (e.g. Arancillo, which has approximately 30% edible portion; Chanee, Mon Thong, Lacson 1 and Lacson 2, and Karnyaw, all originating from Thailand; and GD69 (or Galang Durian 69), with approximately 40% edible portion). Not-too-popular (though gaining prominence) are “basketball”, the red-prawn variety (from Balabagan, Lanao del Sur), “Pink Durian” (from Dulag, Butuan), and the “Thornless Durian”.
Fruits are weighed including the peel/skin; meaning you end up paying more because the peel/skin can be thick, and the actual edible part varies (and won’t be known until it’s been paid for, and then opened for you). This way, it’s a game of “luck” – you never really know what you’re gonna get until after you’ve already ordered/paid for it.
You may eat the durian where you bought them. Stalls usually have tables/seats for eating; and – after choosing – a durian is opened and then served to you.
To open a durian, you don’t peel it (or do something as silly). Instead, durians have “locators” (lines on the fruit’s surface) where the seeds/contents are. The seller simply has to “slice” or make openings via these locators; and you – as the eater – just have to pull the parts apart to reveal the contents.
A durian’s inside softens when it’s ripe. Meaning, you can change your oder if it’s not ripe enough.
Naturally, durians “open” up on their own when ripe (those lines will separate on their own); though obviously, sellers harvest them before they ripen, so that there is a need to “force” the fruit open.
Sellers usually provide plastic gloves to keep the stink off your hand when you eat. But in case your skin still stinks after eating, try: alcohol, or – some locals would attest to this – putting water on an empty shell, and then washing your hand with that water.
Back in GenSan, a kilo costs from P35 (on a January visit, which is the same price when sold during high season in Davao City). Meaning, you just have to spend – say – P70 for a durian good for two people. Some varieties cost P50 per kilo, though this is still actually reasonable.
Now, thinking of eating durian but you are away from Davao City, or you think it’s not durian season yet? Head to GenSan, where you may just find what you’re craving for…