Dad The Master of Fruits

Dad was a guy who played it straight to a fault, I can hardly name one vice he had if I try. But since I'm trying here, his one vice was fruits.

Malaysians define themselves by things they put into their months. In this case dad was a very well-defined Malaysian by his consumption and expertise in all manners of fruits.

Dad liked all kinds of fruits as snacks, on top occasional junk food. He would hardly spend money on anything but there's no hint of hesitation with fruits.

Langsat, duku, mangosteen, star fruits, rambutan, papaya, nangka, cempedak, guava, longan, mango, watermelon, mandarin oranges. That's as far as my fruit-vocabulary goes. If you can invent a new tropical fruit, he'll buy them.

Liking them is one thing, having the skills to pick quality ones is another. He somehow had the whispering ability to spot quality pieces of fruits with low margin for error.

The only thing he couldn't do his whispering magic on is watermelon. If a watermelon isn't cut open, it's a total gamble. I remember plenty of failed attempt having to eat white-looking watermelon that's basically just plain water.

He never exactly spelled out his fruit preference philosophy. Maybe there's not much more to it other than trying to stay healthy without succumbing to salty-ass potato chips.

I do wonder where he picked up these skills. I suspect it has something to do with his time spent in the woods in his younger days, along with lifetime of trial and error.

And then there's durian.

You see, real men don't buy durian extracted into containers. Real men buy them whole, crack them open at home and face the consequences of their choices.

When in season and they are cheap enough, dad would visit street stalls (often pasar malam), handpicked his durians, shake, smell and press them. Merchants would crack a small opening enough for dad to press the flesh to make sure it's ripe.

One single purchase would result in a bag of what felt like 20 kg. I would carry them as weight training.

At home, come about 10:30 pm we would lay newspapers on the floor where the durian feast would start. We would eat until we couldn't stomach it anymore, and I would be responsible for cleaning up and taking them out to the trash.

There may yet be some hidden wisdom behind choosing good fruits. The human instinct on aesthetics is a kind of compressed intuition that's not easily summarized into legible logic.

The reading of beauty can sometimes be made skin deep. Fitness detection by reading the shell is a protection mechanism from bad-investing. Pick bad fruits enough times, and you can't help but spot the patterns.

Fruits don't get to fake their beauty but humans do. Beauty that cannot be faked are the signals to looks for when picking people, and it's a shifting goal post. I wish I learn the skills much earlier.