King of fruit gives a taste of kampung spirit

SINGAPORE - The kampung spirit came alive yesterday when 350 people gathered for a durian feast at Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre in Clarke Quay.

Many of them started off as strangers but eventually bonded over their common love for the king of fruit, and the laughter and conversation grew.

During the four-hour event, which started at 7pm, dozens of thorny husks were cracked open to reveal rows of the creamy flesh, which were passed around for everyone's enjoyment.

The durian feast, called Durian Mobilization 2014 and now in its second year, was organised by Dr Leslie Tay, a popular food blogger who runs the website, and the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM).

It aims to give participants the chance to socialise over durians, and get a taste of the kampung spirit that thrived in old Singapore.

To add to the communal vibe, participants sat cross-legged, or on small stools, on picnic mats and newspapers laid out on the ground.

Participant Desmond Lee, 46, an outdoor sales executive, said he enjoyed himself as feasting on his favourite fruit with other durian lovers was a better experience than eating them at home.

Another perk, he said, was the good quality of the durians offered during the event.

"I eat durians almost every week, and I would say the durians I had here were close to perfect."

About one tonne of Mao Shan Wang and D24 durians - premium varieties of the fruit - was prepared for the event.

Dr Tay said they were fresh - they dropped to the ground only yesterday morning - and were brought in from Pahang, Malaysia, just before the event.

For $38 each, participants enjoyed about 2kg to 3kg of the fruit. A portion of the proceeds will cover the cost of the durians, with the rest going to charity.

The two beneficiaries are Goducate, an international non- profit organisation which provides education for needy children, and the Prison Fellowship Singapore, a charity that runs programmes to help prisoners, former offenders and their families.

Said Dr William Wan, general secretary of the SKM: "Food is a natural conversation starter for most locals... Apart from enjoying the delicacies, the moments where people can share a laugh and learn more about each other are also very precious."

This article was first published on July 28, 2014.
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