Eating in an international fast food outlet is always one of the most exciting parts of leaving the country. Even if you’ve dined out at a hundred local franchises, there’s always some twist on an overseas menu that keeps the familiar feeling fresh. Maybe you were enticed by McDonald’s poutine in Canada, or possibly you couldn’t resist the paneer pizza pioneered by Domino’s India - everyone gives a little gasp of excitement when they spot their favourite brand serving something completely new. However, even with all the goodwill afforded by being on holiday, KFC China has done something so unforgivable that it might taint all foreign fast food forever.
Not content, apparently, with sticking with the traditional formula of herbs, spices and boiling oil, the Chinese branch of the brand’s operation has decided to mix chicken with one of the most divisive ingredients on planet earth. Like the scientists in Jurassic Park who spend so long wondering if they could they didn’t stop to think if they should, the Colonel’s Asian ambassadors are now serving durian-stuffed chicken nuggets.
To anyone unfamiliar, a durian is a large, spiky southeast Asian fruit that is simultaneously held to be a delicacy and totally disgusting. The pungent flesh is prized for its powerful aroma and flavour, and is regularly sold in street stalls across the continent. Many places, however, ban durians because the stench is so repugnant it can force people to run for the hills. Buildings have been evacuated because a durian was accidentally left in the open. Some say it tastes like the sock of someone recently diagnosed with a particularly virulent strain of athlete’s foot. Needless to say, nuggets do not need durian to be delicious.
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Technically, the dish itself is actually called “Durian Exploding Chicken Nuggets”, according to a report in Shanghaiist, and features ordinary nuggets injected with a special durian paste. If the promotional pictures are anything to go by, it looks like an ear canal overflowing with hot wax. Whether it tastes like it too is as yet unconfirmed.
Despite the controversial combination, the nuggets have had a tentatively warm reception in China. The Shanghaiist states that Chinese social media platform Weibo has been awash with people posting about the dish, with the general consensus that they aren’t as horrible as you might think. I, for one, will be happy to take their word for it.