KUALA BERANG: An American couple are travelling the world for a cause – spreading good news about Malaysia’s King of Fruits.
Lindsay Gasik, 25, and her husband Robert Culclasure, 31, have spent much time studying durian and the fruit’s impact on local culture.
“There are about 25 species of durian in Malaysia and at least four in Peninsular Malaysia that are considered tasty.
“We want to help people to enjoy durian and appreciate more varieties,” Lindsay said in an interview.
The couple, who are from Oregon, discovered a frozen version of the fruit in 2009, and tasted a fresher one in the Philippines the next year.
They have since travelled the world, tasting seeds from Australia to Costa Rica while documenting cultures, legends and farming practices about durian.
Their website states that they have eaten durian in 13 countries in the past two years.
When met here, they were looking for durian tahi gajah, which elephants would swallow and defecate, producing a fruit which had supposed aphrodisiac properties.
Their travels inspired Gasik to publish a 237-page The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Thailand.
They are also working on a similar guide to Penang.
Now they are collecting recipes such as durian fried rice for a cookbook.
Gasik said Malaysia’s durian scene had far more variety than Thailand’s, though most here only knew a few of the 197 varieties of a single durian species.
“We want to help people appreciate the diversity of flavour and also protect the genetic diversity.”
They were concerned about the market here, with many farmers focused on lucrative varieties such as Musang King and ditching diversity.
“You see a lot of people growing Musang King, but durian take a long time to flower.
“The bubble’s going to burst when you have people going for other varieties,” Culclasure said.
The couple claimed that there was a lack of government support for farmers, many of whom supposedly kept their techniques to themselves.
They said there was a lot more to Malaysia’s durian than most people understood, and hoped to see different parts of the country open up to show off their own versions of the fruit. For more information visit www.yearofthedurian.com.