Multimedia: Durian, The Scent of a King

Multimedia: Durian, The Scent of a King

I am convinced that the durian is a misunderstood fruit. As you will learn from watching this slideshow that it is known for its pungent odor and it’s rather mushy texture. I have also learned that it is rather subjective whether it is pungent in it’s smell or just “heavily scented” or if the texture is mushy or in fact creamy. A comment given to me over and over was, “you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it”. That sure seems to be the case. I really met very few people that didn’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, when it came to this unique fruit. The durian is uniquely Asia and so I felt it would be a fun project to focus on. I’ve never seen any other photographic essays on the durian. For those of you that have never seen or tasted one I hope this will give you at least an idea of what it’s about. There are many things in this world that people are fanatic about. This is the only fruit that I know of that actually has people starting clubs around and schedule special tastings.

Durian lovers are in a class by themselves. A special thanks to all the people who appear in this project for their time and their enthusiasm. After 3 days of working on this I have eaten more durian an then I ever have in the past and I have to say, the taste is starting to grow on me.

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

39 Comments

  1. Charlene

    This one struck close to home Matt. Everything about this piece brought back many memories of the motherland, the accents, opinions, the way people say “zero”, words like “heaty” and “cooling”, and of course that bonding/divisive love/hate of durian. I don’t imagine one gets kampung scenes like that anymore in Singapore, but there were plenty in my youth – i spent the first 5 years of my childhood in what must have been one of the last remaining kampungs on the island, in an attap and zinc roofed house.

    Great walk through memory lane. Brought a big grin to my face. Thanks for this!

    (I’m not a durian fan at all. LOVE mangosteens though)

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Sounds like you had a great childhood. As I said, I am not really a fan of durian, but you can’t live in SE Asia and not eat it. At some time or another everyone seems to ask, “So, how do you find durian.” I want to like it, for no other reason than to be able to not give the expected, “I can’t stand it” that so many Westerners give. And I gotta say, it really is getting better.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Extremely well done Matt.  We have those here and I’m fearful that I fall into the group that can’t stand it.  D 24 sounds like an interesting variety 😉

    My favorite description was “Vanilla ice cream in an unwashed toilet.” – So descriptive

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Yeah, I almost didn’t put it in it, but it was so descriptive it had to stay.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I mean, it taste like that to me… but maybe worse.

        Reply
  3. Sephi Bergerson

    Good one Matt. Very well done. I’m afraid it does not make me want to try it but I thoroughly enjoyed the slideshow 🙂

    Reply
  4. Paul Joyce

    Really great video Matt, thanks.

    The first time I tried durian was in Penang a number of years ago.I was introduced to it by local friends. I had never seen one before and when they asked me what I thought of the smell, I can honestly say at the time it smelt like coffee (I still remember it now). They all laughed and then they said that there is old saying that those who like durian say it smells like coffee.

    I’ve no idea how true that saying is but at the time I liked it.Its definitely an acquired taste though.

    Paul

    Reply
  5. Melissa Gabel Morse

    When I lived in Indonesia my neighbors invited me to join them for a durian treat; they picked me up in their car to drive to the local durian shop because they didn’t want the stench of the fruit in their home. We ate the fruit with sticky rice and a soda. I was warned that drinking alcohol while eating durian is a deadly combination – producing too much heat in the body. Who would dare to test that theory? At the end, we rinsed our fingers in water which was soaked in the durian shell because that was supposed to remove the telltale odor. It wasn’t a flavor I craved, but durian taste isn’t nearly as overpowering as the aroma. Great story, Matt.  Thanks for the informative trip down memory lane.

    Reply
  6. Yves

    Thanks Matt. Very good piece. Very informative and makes me want to try this king fruit.

    Reply
  7. Marco Ryan

    Really enjoyed this. Great use of sound ides – and thanks for creating an html5 compliant version for the iPad. It worked just fine.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Marco. That is a new feature of both Soundslides and their new embed link.
      Matt

      Reply
      • cfimages

        How new is this new feature of Soundslides you mention? I didn’t notice anything last time I used it (Soundlides Plus 1.94).

        Reply
        • Matt Brandon

          Version 1.9.4 (Feb. 1, 2011) now gives an option for a “html5_compatible” shell listed under Templates > Shells. This shell will display the classic Flash player in browsers that have the Flash plug-in installed, and displays an HTML 5/JavaScript player otherwise. This allows slide shows to be seen on devices including the iPhone and iPad. When I used the embed tool Soundslides offer and it gave me an iframe embed code to post into the blog.

          Reply
          • cfimages

            Thanks, I’ll make sure I use it next time.

  8. DT

    Hi Matt,

    Very well put together.  When you know you are shooting images for a story like this, do you shoot Jpeg (because you will need quite a few different shots to tell the story) or do you stick with RAW?

    On the audio side – what do you use to edit the sound clips?

    Thanks
    D

    Reply
  9. cfimages

    I’m one of those who doesn’t like cheese. Durian I can handle though – and stinky tofu. 🙂 I actually first came across durian by way of durian candy that some Thai friends gave me.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      I have meet so many Asian that really hate cheese. Cheese is to many Asians what Durian is to us. But Stinky tofu!! YUCK. Don’t even want to go there!

      Reply
  10. Jon McCormack

    Really lovely Matt. Apparently I am in the camp of folks who don’t understand Durian. But your images and audio are really beautiful.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Jon,  Don’t worry, you are not alone. The world is full of people who don’t understand this crazy fruit. 😉

      Reply
  11. David R.

    Top notch photo essay.  Wonderful interweaving of audio & images!  Too bad durian season is ending; but it’s even worse that mangosteen season is ending!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Dave, and thanks for all your help on this project. I hope your wife enjoyed her Durian.
      Matt

      Reply
  12. Andy Wilson

    Durian does make a great story.  It has all the right ingredients including conflict!  I seem to be one of the few neutrals regarding the experience except when it comes to the King of Fruits definition.  That really has to be the mango!

    As to not liking Stinky Tofu…tch, tch…

    Enjoyed teh slideshow

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Andy,

      You are absolutely right about making a good story. It’s that “love it or hate it” thing. I love Mango, but Durian still seems to have that Kingly feel, Maybe it is the thorny crown thing it has going and it’s tough exterior. Sounds like a description of a king to me.
      Matt

      Reply
  13. Ayn

    Hi Matt wonderful images, I have no idea of what the durian smells or tastes like, but your images have made my mouth water!!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Ayn, Great to have you as a commenter here. Really enjoyed out time in Cambodia. If you are still in SE Asia you gotta to try it if you can.
      Matt

      Reply
  14. Rosane Walker

    Someone tricked me into trying a durian gelatto. One little tiny spoon killed me! The taste stayed with me for a long time and nothing erased it. And that’s because it was gelatto, I can’t imagine eating the raw fruit.

    Great video Matt!

    Reply
  15. Scott Wade

    Great piece Matt!  I particularly loved the section where you here the durian being opened and the use of the series of photos almost as if it changed to video for a while BRILLIANT!

    BTW, I’m good friends with Todd White from the Georgetown/Austin area… next time you come through we need to have beer!

    Reply
  16. Jack

    Matt, It’s a great video and really interesting topic. I never would have thought of doing something on durian yet it’s a subject. The fruit itself is very photogenic and the passions it elicits make it a good candidate for multimedia. Wonderful. jack

    Reply
  17. Tim Humble

    Great stuff Matt. Really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

    Reply
  18. Fernando Gros

    Great stuff!  I got into Durian by shutting my eyes and telling myself, “this is not a fruit.”  Weird, I know, but my feeling was that the repulsion, for a Westerner, was down to a category error in our tastebuds – this thing doesn’t taste or feel the way a fruit should.

    Reply
  19. Luke

    A little late to the game, but it’s interesting to see how everyone in Malaysia recommends eating durian and mangosteen together. Where I am in Sumatra, that is a BIG no-no! They think eating the two fruits together makes you sick and can even kill you!

    Reply
  20. Wordsmither

    Lovely tribute to my favourite fruit. It gets in your blood stream and takes over your mind.

    Reply
  21. Tim Mielke

    Thanks for the presentation. It put smiles on me and several coworkers faces. Someone in our communications office traveled to Asia a few years ago and brought back some Durian chocolate. Some of the worst stuff I have ever eaten. The faces I will never forget.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fruit Stand: Durian | Living in Penang - [...] For more about Penang Durian check out this multimedia slideshow by Digital Trekker. [...]
  2. Tour de Penang Continues | Scott's Photo Blog - [...] We had to eat it outside as it will stink up your entire house. Most hotels, building, airplanes, etc…

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