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Southeast Asia, explained

An odorless version of Asia's most pungent fruit?

Coming soon: a scentless durian
Odorless durian 2012 05 24Enlarge
Durian, a thorny tropical fruit with a distinctive pungent odor, sold at a roadside stall in Malaysia. (TENGKU BAHAR /AFP/Getty Images)

Some liken it to heaven. Some liken it to a sack full of spoiled onions and jock straps.

But durian, love it or loathe it, is supposed to smell.

Native to Southeast Asia, the durian's shell resembles an extraterrestrial porcupine. When cut open, it exudes an aroma so powerful that taxis, malls and hotels post signs forbidding durian-toting customers.

But now, Bangkok's The Nation newspaper reports reporting a shocking development: a genetically manipulated scent-free durian is soon to hit the Thai market.

Apparently, this freak durian was long in the making. Here's a very thorough New York Times article from 2007 profiling the (mad?) scientist who cultivated the scentless durian. He intended to produce a variety that would entice Westerners repulsed by the strong smell.

Subtract the smell (which can be very enticing to the acclimated durian eater) and what's left?

An odorless durian isn't worth much more than an odorless clove of garlic.

I suspect that any Westerner curious enough to acquire durian is apt to want the real thing, smell and all.

http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/odorless-durian-thailand

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