We arrived at our resort on Penang Island after a trying flight from Kuala Lumpur – we’d both come down with a case of Turista following breakfast that morning – and were starving. Driven out into the streets by the bizarre selection of Western foods such as chicken fingers and tater tots at the hotel restaurant, we thankfully stumbled on Medan Selera Mutiara (Hillside Food Court), a short walk away. An open-air food court, the perimeter is lined with stalls selling cheap and delicious Malaysian street food, with tables in the centre. We found our durian man and his cart on the street behind the food court along with others who sold exotic fruits like rambutan, longan and lychee, and another offering hamburgers topped with eggs late into the night.
“You want sweet, or bitter?” he asked when we mustered up the courage to approach the next evening. Sweet, we agreed, not sure if it was the right decision. Guidance was not forthcoming. The durian seller, and the men hanging around his stall grinned at us.
The durian man split open our fruit with a thwack of his knife, removed the pods of pale yellow flesh from the husk, and handed them to us in a plastic container. Excited, we headed over to the food court. I was already a curiosity there with my pale skin and bare limbs but when we settled down with our box of durian all eyes turned to us. I got the feeling that watching foreigners try durian for the first time was a familiar spectacle at Hillside Food Court … Read the whole story at Travel Mag.
With thanks to Professor Martina Hardwick – this essay was originally written for Queen’s WRIT 225.