Monday, June 3, 2019 at 11:56AM
Drew Wolfe

Stinking Rich? Malaysia Aims To Cash In On China's Durian Craze

"The durian, for those of you who've never seen one, is a Southeast Asian fruit that looks like a fiercely weaponized pineapple. It's prickly. It's pricey. And it's oh so pungent. And you will never forget your first whiff, says Zamzani Abdul Wahab — the Malaysian celebrity chef better known as Chef Zam — who remembers the first time two of his foreign friends got theirs when they visited him in Kuala Lumpur a few years back."

"'They almost died, and I had to call an ambulance on them,' he says, laughing. He may be exaggerating — but just a little. Last month, more than 500 people were evacuated from a library in Australia after a gas leak scare that turned out to be ... yup, a rotting durian left in a trash bin."

"'Julia Child once said that it smells like dead babies mixed with strawberries mixed with Camembert,' Chef Zam says.'You have to bear in mind, they're an acquired taste.'"

"Here in Southeast Asia, you may not bring durians on trains, planes or in taxis. And don't even think about sneaking one into your hotel room. But here's the thing: Once you get past the smell, they're delicious. And the Chinese in particular have fallen hard for the pungent fruit in the past few years, putting it in everything from pizza to ice cream, even cakes. And, says Chef Zam, the Chinese have fallen even harder for what's widely considered Malaysia's best variety of durian, the Musang King."

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