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.

About 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.

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41 thoughts on “Multimedia: Durian, The Scent of a King

  1. 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)

    • 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.


  4. 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.

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

  6. 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?


  7. 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.

    • 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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

    • 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.

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

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

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