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Food, Malaysia

Try the durian, Mr President... and nasi lemak

The Star/ANN | Michelle Tam | Sunday, Apr 27, 2014

PETALING JAYA: "What do you feel like eating today? Come, let's go makan."

For many Malaysians, that question is a way of life and often, the very foundation of a good time.

Thanks to a multicultural wealth of influences ranging from spicy Indian notes to rich Malay fare, Malaysia is a culinary wonderland like no other.

And when guests from foreign lands stop by our shores, we are all too excited to share the many delicious food that the nation has to offer.

On Saturday, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, will be the first sitting US president to visit Malaysia in 48 years, the last being President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

We asked readers on The Star Online's official Facebook page to suggest "must-try" Malaysian culinary experiences for the US President.

Happily, the overwhelming response from our makan buddies ensured that Obama has quite the eat-list to hit… if he has the time!

Durian Musang King

With its creamy texture and accompanying olfactory assault, even the most adventurous of gourmets can find the durian to be a stumbling block of a delicacy.

Of course, this is precisely why most Malaysians love to inflict it upon visiting friends!

Netizen Zizi Laloq cheekily dared Obama to try the thorny fruit while James Yong said it was a test worth passing: "If the Leader of the Free World finishes one segment of the King of the Fruits, then he is a notch up in my books."

And in a reminder of the durian-eating ritual we all know and love, AndyMia Amal said the US president should drink water from the durian shell, which would help him cool down from fruit's heaty properties.

Either way, it is an experience that Obama simply cannot miss.

Anyone who enjoys the durian's smooth and luscious flesh is given a culinary badge of honour by delighted locals. Those who don't will at least have a culinary experience like no other to share, usually involving exaggerated depictions of the fruit's pungent smell.

Obama's early years in Indonesia could put him firmly in the former category!

Penang food

There truly is no keeping the local foodies away from their favourite culinary destination.

That is why many Malaysians think nothing of making the trek up to Penang to get their assam laksa fix - which CNN ranked as the world's seventh best dish, no less - or tuck into plates of curry-drenched nasi kandar.

Netizens such as Noor Aini also urged Obama to try Penang rojak, a spicy-sweet fruit salad, and Penang ais kacang, as the icy treat is prepared differently from state to state.

Lest we forget, the list also includes firm favourites such as char kuey teow, Hokkien mee and prawn mee.

If the culinary world is our oyster, then Penang food is truly our Pearl of the Orient!

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