GEORGE TOWN, July 15 — Do you know that the flesh of durians from old trees are wrinkled, much like how elderly humans have wrinkles?
The flesh of durians from older trees are also softer and thicker with smaller seeds.
These are just a few tips durian aficionado Lindsay Gasik shared as she takes her guests through a three-hour durian tasting journey at the launch of her very first book on Penang durians.
The 29-year-old from Oregon, the United States, started with stories of how she started her durian journey all over Asia back in 2012 before she went down to business, introducing the various durian hybrids in Penang.
The tasting session, held at the picturesque Karuna Hill in Balik Pulau, was similar to a wine-tasting as Gasik explained the history behind some hybrids, described the flavours and textures and explained how to differentiate one hybrid from another before handing out the fruit to all tables for the tasting.
Gasik also provided little tasting notebooks for her guests to note down the types of durians they tasted, the flavours they noticed in each fruit and what they liked about it.
As an added bonus, she invited farm owners to talk about the durians from their respective farms and explain the flavours behind it.
“I learnt a lot about durians from these farms and the first place where I learnt about savouring the different flavours of durians was at Bao Sheng durian farm,” she said.
In the durian tasting session, Gasik demonstrated the process of differentiating fruits from old and young trees, why the durians needed to be hit a few times before opening it and how to choose durians.
She featured a total of 23 different hybrid durians, starting from the creamy D11 before moving on to stronger flavoured varieties such as Hor Lor, Kun Poh, Kapri and Ang Heh (red prawn).
The tasting session ended with the most expensive durians — the commercialised Musang King and the Or Chee (black thorn).
Gasik pointed out that due to the Black Thorn’s high price, which can go up to RM80 per kg, some durian stalls were trying to sell the Kun Poh as Black Thorn to those who could not see the difference between these two types of durians.
“The flesh are almost the same colour so some people may not even know the difference but if we look at the skin, the Kun Poh is more elongated while Black Thorn is rounded,” she said.
She said the thorns and skin colours are also different where the Kun Poh has brown thorns with a green skin while the Black Thorn is a dull darker green.
The Black Thorn is also easily recognised due to its shape as it is rounder and has an indent at the bottom where a black thorn can be seen sticking out.
The durian tasting session is but a glimpse of Gasik’s experience from years of chasing the durian trail all over Asia.
She had compiled all of the information she gathered from the farms and durian stalls she visited in Penang and the result is the 327-page The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang.
The book featured some 65 places to get your durian fix in Penang and that’s not all, it also listed out the history behind some of the more popular hybrids.
The book is particularly useful for budding durian eaters as she has a section on how to know if the durian is rotten, how to know if the durian is from an old or young tree and the science behind the thorny fruit’s flavours, textures and aroma.
The book, available in printed form and as an e-book, is now on sale at Gasik’s website.
Gasik, who also organises durian tours, is also on Facebook as “Year of The Durian” and on Instagram @durianwriter.