While I thought nobody was looking, I took a finger-thin dab of durian pulp from a freshly opened fruit on the table.
It turned out my friend saw what I was doing.
“No wonder you don’t like it, you just take a pathetically small portion,” he yelled. “Finish up the whole thing, and I guarantee you will fall in love with it.”
Of course, I had no intention of following his advice. He is a certified durian addict, and I hate the fruit because of its puke-inducing smell.
He and the owner of the place, a businessman who buys the fruits directly from Malaysia and sells them in Hong Kong, have been plotting to convert me into a durian lover.
Whenever a Musang King durian arrives from Malaysia, the boss would phone me and ask me to inform my durian-loving friend that a new shipment has arrived.
Of course, my friend would ask me to accompany him to visit the businessman’s place and get to taste the fruit.
Now, as I held the stinky, squashy yellow pulp in my hand, I wondered how people could swallow it down.
The longer I held it, the more I would think of unpleasant thoughts and images.
Thank goodness my friend is only fond of Musang King, a seasonal durian variety, which means it is not available all year round. Otherwise, I would have to go through this ordeal every so often.
The fruit, actually, is becoming so popular that they have organized guided tours to Malaysia specifically to visit a farm that grows Musang King.
But our businessman friend says even if you travel to Malaysia and visit the farm, you won’t necessarily get the best fruit.
In fact, Musang King durians are of different varieties, he says.
The best, he says with unconcealed pride, are those he imports directly from the mountains of Pahang, Malaysia, where they are allowed to ripen naturally and fall to the ground by themselves.
“The fully mature ones taste genuinely heavenly,” the boss enthuses. “You can tell right away they are different from those that are allowed to mature only halfway through and then artificially ripened.”
Since his durians are so ready to be feasted on, they have to be transported by air as soon as possible, or else they would spoil very soon.
It would be a crime if such a precious fruit is allowed to go to waste, he admonishes, as if he is speaking of an abominable sin.
Staying true to his convictions, the boss, immediately after receiving a phone call from his supplier in Malaysia, starts calling his loyal customers to inform them that the fruits are about to arrive.
He then rushes to the airport before noon for the fruits and starts delivering them to his customers in the afternoon or evening.
“Finish them all and don’t keep any of the pulps overnight,” he reminds his customers. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
Well, I would be so grateful if he stops calling me about another shipment.
Why doesn’t he just inform my friend directly? Why does he have to go through me?
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 22.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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