Durian hunters

Durian hunters
The pair pose with locals in West Kalimantan, holding durio dulcis (red durian).

SINGAPORE - When American tourists Rob Culclasure and Lindsay Gasik last visited Singapore, durian sellers in Geylang tried to cheat them. They tried to pass off a Thai Chanee as a Mao Shan Wang.

But the sellers had picked the wrong targets.

Because the married couple are durian addicts who have travelled across South-east Asia eating and learning about the king of fruits, and know almost everything there is to know about them.

The couple, who got married in 2009, first tried durian on a trip to the Philippines in 2010, and fell in love with the fruit.

Said Ms Gasik, 24: "It's a unique fruit with all these contrasting flavours."

For Mr Culclasure, 31, the allure of the durian lies in the thrill of selecting one.

"Every single durian is different, so you have to take a gamble and smell it, taste it. It's an art and a science."

But when they tried to find out more about the fruit online, they drew a blank.

Ms Gasik said: "There just wasn't enough information on the Internet then."

So they decided to spend a year tasting every kind of durian they could find, in 2012.

They ate their way through nine South-east Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and share their adventures and insights on their Year Of The Durian blog.

They created the blog as a means to communicate with friends and family, but it now has about 40,000 views monthly.

Recounting their encounter with the Geylang durian sellers, the couple immediately recognised the "large, rectangular spikes" and yellow-painted stem of the Thai durian.

The Thai Chanee is typically less expensive than a Mao Shan Wang, which is prized for its creamier flesh and intense flavour.

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