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The durian is the reverse snob’s dream fruit. It is stinky beyond your olfactory imagination and its flavour has been described variously as mushy rotten onions, the inside of an unwashed toilet bowl, a used gym sock and the ‘shit of God’. After making its acquaintance, “your breath will smell as if you’ve been french kissing your dead grandmother,” says Anthony Bourdain. The durian is derided by hotels and airports throughout its native Southeast Asia. Airlines will do everything to prevent you from carrying it on board. And overindulgence can land you in hospital. Naturally, it’s one of my favourite fruits. I speak on the strength of one, brief fling with this spiny cousin of the jackfruit. That was in the flesh. In its mediated form—ice cream, cake, candy—the durian is a bit more approachable, and, since I’m not shy in my declarations of love, over the years, fellow travellers have offered tribute in the form of durian trinkets, candies and fruit leather. A prickly activist friend gifted me this odourless totem in plaster of Paris and it has adorned my desk ever since. Collateral damage: colleagues now give me a wide berth. Am I prickly too? Or is it just durian envy?
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