You either love it or you hate it

  1. Did you know that Marmite is very popular in Malaysia?

It’s used in Chinese Malay cooking, where they make  Marmite chicken or even better – Marmite prawns –


I’m sure that even Marmite haters would be converted by just one of these luscious little mouthfuls … it’s practically an umami-overdose, if such a thing were possible.

2. Durian polarises people even more than Marmite.  The flavour has been described to me as ‘onion and motor oil custard’, while the smell has something of the sewer about it.

There’s a man who sells durian from a van just down the road –

and people sit on the pavement and eat it –

but you can smell the durian long before you get anywhere near the van.  I’ve walked towards the van several times, determined to buy some and try it, but then the smell hits me and I scuttle away and buy some mangoes instead.

The closest I’ve got to eating durian is in a dessert called cendol, which is a mixture of crushed ice, coconut milk, red beans and green jelly noodles.  There was an option to have it flavoured with durian puree, so I recklessly went ahead and ordered it.

Whilst the flavour wasn’t too bad, the durian puree has a pungent rotting smell, and the putrid aftertaste stays in your mouth for hours.

If I could just get past the smell, maybe I could skip up to the van as happily as the locals and order myself one – although nobody at school would go near me for days afterwards, as your pores apparently exude the smell, and any unfortunate release of gas is equally pervasive.

3.  Birds’ Nest Soup

Having heard so much about the health-giving properties of birds’ nest soup, and how highly prized and therefore hugely expensive it is, I decided to try some in the name of research.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the fact that it is saliva … and birds’ saliva at that … formerly solidified birds’ saliva that has now been dissolved in water.

So I will just have to forego any miraculous healing that might have come my way if I’d finished it.