Why Lei Gong Durian Calls On The God Of Thunder
The classic story line of how one embarks on a journey to coming of age has been a template for Hollywood movies. The flicks from the range of the Marvel cinematic universe are the best examples in recent years.
It always starts with a regular person facing some form of adversity, hits rock bottom, and at his or her lowest point, discovers abilities that will make a difference to mankind. Then save the world as we know it from utter catastrophe in the end.
At some point, any reasonable person should inevitably start to question why no villains have succeeded so far. Because the law of probability just don’t work this way. Anyway, that’s a topic for another day.
I bring up this introduction because there is a durian named after Thor the God of Thunder. Except that when it was first named, Thor was probably not even known to the people who named it.
I’ll admit that I’m superhero-naive and didn’t know of Thor’s existence until the movie release
But the story of a particular durian actually draws a lot of fascinating parallels with superhero stories.
The durian is Lei Gong (雷公) which translates to Thunder God.
The legend behind this durian was that a Johor farmer took over a farmland in Muar which had this supposed durian tree that would not bear fruit. But he decided to just keep it on the land anyway. He tried giving it all the TLC he could. Feeding it fertilizer instead of French gourmet, letting it slurp on water rather than Italian wine. Yet it still continued to play hard to get and refused to bear fruit. Then one day during a thunderstorm, a bolt of lighting struck the tree with a flaming bang and the upper third of the tree was scorched black. The farmer simply gave up giving it so much attention but stopped short of removing the tree altogether. Some months later, to his astonishment, he saw the tree flowering miraculously and then finally started to bear fruit. He named the durian Lei Gong as a tribute to what the tree had to go through to eventually come of age. It was divine intervention that altered the fate of this tree.
To tell you the truth, I find the folklore hard to believe. But nature works in mysterious ways. And maybe the events really did took place… just much less dramatic.
Don’t forget that the durian fruit in itself is a spiky paradox.
How can a fruit that looks so aggressive on the outside hide so much unrivaled beauty within? With an aroma capable of spreading through the air in a way that defies all logic? And a taste so divisive that people would either describe as heaven or hell?
When we put that into perspective, maybe the seemingly fictional story of leigong is not so implausible after all.
The truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.
Features of lei gong durian
The size of lei gong is generally small to medium. Most of which are usually just over 1kg. Making it just about the right size for 1 serving to an adult.
It spots a pretty circular and rounded shape for the husk. Globose is the word.
In fact with short thorns, from the outside, it can look very similar to D13. Except that the stem is generally slightly longer than those of the average durian.
The thin rind and small size means that you will not find a lot of problem opening it.
The fruitlets are usually one or two seeds per pod. And the open-husk look can resemble that of capri.
To play further along with the capri impression, the flesh of lei gong is also creamy white. Somewhere between capri and S17.
The similarities don’t just end there.
Because lei gong is also famed for it’s heavily bitter taste. It’s a suiting reflection of the bitterness suffered in the early life of this cultivar.
And if you free your mind, just close your eyes when you pleasure your taste buds as you slush the meat about in your mouth. If you are at the right place at the right time in the right mental state, you might just be able to see the challenging events that the mother tree had to go through flash through your mind.
Feel the agony and heartbreak, which eventually turned into elation.
Wipe the teardrop from your eye before anyone notices.
This is one bitter durian. If red flower is liken to durian flavoured vodka, thunder is like durian flavoured panadol.
Lei gong harvest season
The god of thunder has an early season harvest.
The harvest period is also quite short. Which means that once it starts to appear in stalls, you have about 1 week, 2 weeks, or at most 3 weeks, before supply comes to an abrupt stop. You’d then have to wait until next year.
But the supply is rather limited. And because it comes onto the market early when the bigger stars of the main durian season has yet to make their much awaited grand entrances, it can sell out quite fast.
However, in recent years I have noticed a slow down. It could be that with the rising prices of durians, consumers are starting to say no to paying what used to be mao shan wang prices for kampung durians.
The future of durians in terms of price trajectory does seem to be bleak at the moment from the perspective of durian lovers. Maybe not so much for farmers who are probably grinning from ear-ro-ear at the rising prices.
The less enthusiastic demand for thunder durian might also be attributed to the rise of other bitter varieties like capri snatching much of the bitter market share that used to go to leigong during the early season.
It is seldom seen in more well-known stores probably because they only go for durians that are more mass market. It can be quite a hassle having to explain to patrons over and over again what is this durian with a godly name which they’ve never heard of.
And if you are trying this durian, don’t forget to wait for the post credit scene at the end like the hero movies. I guess I don’t have to tell you that it’s a bitter ending.