At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

LEGUMINOUS WORDS!

The English affection for peas has always baffled me. Oh sure, peas are a mighty fine legume, and nothing dolls up mediocre suburban Chinese and Indian food like the judicious addition of frozen peas to a dish. Gosh, it's just so pretty, all fresh and green (and frozen).
Truly the highlight of cuisine in Fremont.
Or Iowa. That's a suburb, right?


On a lark I threw a nursery rhyme into Google Translate.

Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,
Peas porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

This is the result in Chinese:

豌豆粥熱,豌豆粥冷,
豌豆粥在鍋裡已經九天了;
熱情似火,有的喜歡吃冷的,
有些人喜歡它在鍋裡已經九天了。

This is the result in Dutch:

Erwten pap heet, erwten pap koud,
Erwten pap in de pot, negen dagen oud;
Sommigen houden van het heet, sommige van het koud,
Sommigen houden van het in de pot, negen dagen oud.

These languages, as regular readers will have grasped, were not chosen at random. They are in fact co-languages of my world. Not dominant tongues -- that position is fully occupied by the original peas porridge sprach -- but by no means invisible whispers in the personal realm.
I wouldn't describe either translation as idiomatic, but they both communicate the essential spirit of the lyric.


Peas porridge is the British equivalent of hummus. Made of yellow peas instead of kikerwten, with bacon instead of olive oil. It could be delicious, if the bacon is smoked and sauteed garlic were added.
Just put some Sriracha in it for a sparkling zip.

Ene geraffineerde potagie.

In the Netherlands we make erwtensoep, also called 'snert', instead.
A stew, with a variety of vegetables, made thick with split pea puree, with a smoked hamhock and thick smoked sausage added. It's cold weather food, best in mid-winter. There is no vegetarian equivalent.
Tofu and tempeh are NOT substitutes for pork.


One of these days I shall make hummus with three or four freshly fried bacon strips on top. I think it will be absolutely divine. Some chopped cilantro, garlic, and a squirt of Sriracha added.
I can already feel it in my mouth.
wonderful.

Got pita?




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BAD TEMPERED OLD TOAD

Sometime around now last year, various people who could not find the Netherlands on a map if it were marked in big bold letters saying "THEY SPEAK CHEESE HERE" formed opinions about a cute little tradition of the Dutch, namely having people wear splendid mediaeval drag and caper around with their faces painted black, scaring little kiddies.
Now, of course I think it's a mighty fine tradition. Not because I'm a racist, but because I am biased against other people's nasty children.
The little shits need to be hounded, mercilessly.
Badly behaved monsters.

And, upon mature reflection, you will realize that this is indeed so. Your own precious loin-fruits, if they're still small are making your life 100% miserable, and if they're already grown-up they are driving you into the poorhouse, what with having to take remedial English and social basket weaving studies at Harvard, Yale, MIT, or whatever other damned tradeschool you've shipped them off to for eight years.

If anything, your children are racists. You know that they'll react badly to what would be a normal face except that it is a shiny neon-black, jumping out at them and screaming "boo".
If they didn't have all manner of praeconceptions -- praeconceptions that YOU inculcated in the little turds -- they would NOT react with shock, surprise, and crap in their trousers terror.

BOO, YOU LITTLE RASCAL, BOO!




And, speaking of racism, I am keenly desirous that some true-blue disapproving American type explain to me why Thanksgiving is not a horridly insensitive celebration.

As I understand it, we took corn, turkeys, and wide open spaces by the bucket load from the natives, and gave them smallpox, measles, and syphilis in exchange.

Yes, I know that getting the better part of the deal is more than sufficient reason to be filled with glee, and it does call for massive celebration.
But isn't it just a tiny bit nauseating? Should our schadenfreude at their getting royally shafted really be so bold, so blatant?

Can't we just discreetly withdraw to our various severe Protestant churches, lock the door for an hour or two, and quietly thank the good lord for the opportunity to screw over our little red brethren, without inviting them or any inconvenient witnesses in to observe our joy?


Now, tell me again why you think mediaeval finery and sooty facial colour is not quite cricket.

At least the sober Dutch promise the little terrors a good thrashing if they've misbehaved.

Whereas most mono-lingual English-speakers keep assuring them that an unshaven lard-ass pervert in a never-washed red bathrobe is going to give them Playstations and Videogames. All they have to do is sit on his lap, then he'll order his height-impaired indentured servants or illegal aliens to take care of everything, and they'll get candy, too!

Plus turkey in November, and in December.

Mustn't forget the damned turkey.

It's our best theft.

Boo.




No, I don't have any plans for Thanksgiving. Just gonna get my Scrooge on real early this year. I'm completely unattached, no kids or nearby kin, I can do that. Unless there's something nice wrapped in tasteful lingerie under the tree I don't intend to put up, I shall ignore Christmas also.
I'm not a celebratory kind of guy.




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Thursday, November 20, 2014

IT'S PERPENDICULAR

If it weren't for cell-phones, all the law-office drones heading home on the number one California Street bus would probably talk. Considering how noisy that would be, I am glad that they can scroll through their text messages and stock-reports instead.
I usually wander down to the end of the line to catch the bus as it heads out; that way there's no crush, and I can ensconce myself before it fills up. Walking six blocks east is easier from Chinatown than even three blocks west. Down a gentle slope rather than up a very steep hill.

From four o'clock to seven o'clock, that bus line is pandemonious. By the second stop the vehicle is already filled, by the fourth there is no standing room left, except for a stretch in the back that law-office employees seem to feel is off-limits. The area near the back door is completely cluster-fudged, because many of them think that an entry way is the perfect spot to come to a dead stop, cling on to a pole, and read their e-mails, oblivious to whether anyone needs to get on or off.


SURELY MY PRECIOUS SELF IS INVIOLATE?!?


Well, yeah. But if you get in the way of a little old lady, you're asking for trouble. She's had it with your type. You never open the door, you never move aside, you never say 'excuse me'. You are, like many law-office workers in downtown San Francisco, a rather sorry excuse for a human.

Oh wait; you're a programmer? That might be even worse!

Marketing and Sales types are totally bestial.

As everyone except them knows.


I will gladly confess that I do not like much of modern society. This is a generation that feels entitled, and truly believes that they themselves are far better and more deserving than any one else.

Many of them are not from San Francisco, but hail from hinterland California and all the other states in the Union. Some of them are Aussies or Brits, and a number are technologically educated foreigners.
But as individuals, they are largely interchangeable.
There is nothing truly unique about them.

Of course, not everybody on the bus is like that. A number of the other passengers are middle-aged hatched-faced law-office harridans, angry that they are no longer springy or attractive, and oblivious to the fact that their dark emotions are reflected in their bitter body language.

Gluten intolerance, creativity, entitlement, attitude, ass, and an ocean of ignorance; these are the characteristics that fill the bus during rush hour.
I often seriously enjoy people watching.
But these folks are repetitive.

There is no lightness to their being.

I would take the Pacific Avenue bus over the hill instead, but that's always filled with twenty-something white folks pissed-off that so many Chinese people also want to ride. You can smell their anger-hormones, and tell that they are tightly clenched and seethingly resentful.
Good lord, some of those "Orientals" are carrying food!
How perfectly horrid! Why do they need to eat?
There should be rules against that.
Forbid all food and drink.
Except Starbucks.


I love all of you.



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TWO WHISKEY NIGHT

At this very moment I am sitting in front of my computer, certain in the knowledge that on Saturday evening I shall not be adhering to my predictable schedule.
Normally on that day I return from Marin, prepare myself a quick dinner, and head out to the cigar bar armed with two or three fine briars, and a pouch of aged Virginia -- often a flake, often one with Perique in the mix -- and on the whole a very positive attitude. There are several good friends and acquaintances whom I expect to see there.
John, "G", Edwin, Jimmy, Shan, Josef, Amin, Chung, Jogger, Justin.
The Idiot, Eric, Nicholas, Sint-O, Pino, Dante.
Mark, Robyn, and their friends.

Not this coming Saturday.

I know who is working that night.

Consequently I am staying the hell away.


There are two pipes I smoked tonight. A nicely grained pipe from France: Sommer, Paris, Grand Luxe, three stars, classic pot shape; plus a Hardcastle Sandblast, Made in England, saddle stem bent dog.
The first is a memento of a trip, the second was purchased at Grant's on Market Street before stupidity closed their doors.

Saturday evening is wide open.

Being a single man in his early middle age, I should be out there acting like a wolf. But that is not my style. Instead, I shall be sitting at home, most likely, reading news articles and Wikipedia before going to bed.
Polk Street will be a hothouse; hormonal madness.
South of Market ditto; crazed sexfiends.
A city awash with sleaze.
Sex-O.


Unless inspiration strikes, I shall have a last pipe of the evening wandering around the neighborhood at around nine o'clock or there-abouts, with naught but an aged Virginia Flake for company.
It could be very much better.
But good enough.


By the way: The Parisian pipe has superlative wood. It's old, the surface translucence is phenomenal; deep, iridescent, rich. It smokes like a dream. Probably one of the finest pieces of briar I've ever found.
Too good to waste on a misadventure.

With aged Virginia flake.

No drama at all.

Alas.




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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DON'T GET SO COCKY JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE HUGE!

The Maus was the biggest tank ever built. Naturally, that excites the passions of many men, because large military equipment paints pictures in their eyes worth more than a thousand realities. This is mirrored in the mental state of souvenir shoppers, when they see a humongous multicoloured vase in a Chinatown window.

"It's big. So big. Dang, it's beautiful!"

Actually, it's a piece of crap, and the kiln that produced it put someone else's name on it because they do not wish to be known for such garbage. But it IS big. And they know how your mind works.

We take travellers' cheques and credit cards.

And we'll ship anywhere.

It's 'big'.


When it comes to martial hardware, it isn't just men that act all gooey. Heck, martial anything. This past Saturday evening a lot of gentlemen in dress uniforms wandered around the Financial District, with drooling dewey-eyed does dripping from their arms. And yes, they did indeed look deliciously manly.
They were also bright-eyed and freshly scrubbed.
And very well behaved.
A credit.


THE MAUS APPEARS!


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNtkIzNthb0.]


The combination of cute girlies and butch equipment is dynamite. Surely you remember Rosie The Riveter? Well hot dog jayzus, totally killer.

I can understand the appeal of Girls und Panzer to many viewers, heck, even I find the show charming, innocent, and strangely thrilling. Japanese schoolgirls, military marches, and rolling stock. It is, if you will indulge me, both loopier than and better than The 'X' Files. Fairy tales for the over-excitable.

Due to several previous youtube searches, one of the videos that ALWAYS shows up, no matter how inappropriate for the moment and non-sequitorial to the item viewed, nay absurd in any context, is an instructional piece on making Cantonese Roast Pork (燒肉'siu yiuk').
In Vietnamese it is called "thịt heo quay".
Yep, halfway down on Girls und Panzer. Same when watching IDF soldiers marching to the wall. Lectures by a rabbi? There's the roast pork again. Videos of crows, badgers, ferrets, bears, and kittens?
The battle hymnn ("Dimonios") of the Sassari Brigade? Isis shock videos, the Muppets and Kermit the Frog, Swedish Chef making Pöpcørn with "captions" (hoo ha!) turned on? Thịt heo quay.
Youtube desperately wants me to enjoy pork!
Why, it's delicious! It's huge!
Thịt heo quay.


I've got my own recipe.


脆皮燒肉
CHEUI PEI SIU YIUK

肉:
Two LBS pork belly.

醃:
½ tsp salt.
3-5 tsp sugar.
1½ tsp five-spice powder.
½ tsp white pepper.
1 tbsp 花雕 (Faa Tiu rice wine from Chekiang).

[Dry sherry can substituted for the rice wine. The tastes are very similar, and sherry is available from nearly every supermarket, unlike good rice wine from Shaoxing (紹興 'siu hing').]

Rinse the piece of pork belly well. Heat a little water to boiling in a shallow pan, put the meat skin side down in there to blanch; most of the flesh should be well clear of the water. This will tighten the skin.
Take it out, let it dry skin side up for an hour. Stab the skin very many times with an ice-pick. Flip it over, and jab at the meat fiercely with a knife to make shallow thin gashes. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together, and thoroughly rub it into the meat and the sides, keeping the skin clear. Place the pork belly, meat side down, in a dish with the rest of the marinade, rub some vinegar and a pinch of salt over the skin.

Place it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This will dry out the skin, while the marinade flavours penetrate the meat.

Remove the meat from the fridge, and put it on a rack over a pan of water, skin up. Rub a little more vinegar into the skin. Preheat the oven to 400 - 425 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 220 degrees Celsius), then bung the whole arrangement in to roast for forty to forty five minutes.

At this point the skin should be fairly crispy, but you can stick it under the broiler till the optimum degree of crispy-crackly has been achieved; the skin should be bubbling.

Take it out, let it cool for twenty minutes or so, and chop it up.


It's wonderful with rice and a squirt of Sriracha.


Siu yiuk is far better than that dry turkey your aunt Pattipoo always insists on making every Thanksgiving, which is coming up again in eight days. Maybe you should prepare some in advance, and sneak it in.
Your siblings will thank you, and if you give the plate of turkey to the dog, Fluffy will quiet down for an hour or two also.
It's that stuff in turkey.
Tryptophan.


Probably the only reason why turkey is so traditional is because it's big. Very big. Enough for an entire family and several generations.
It's a BIG meat.
Big.


By the way: the three characters on the tanks rolling across the screen near the end of the video above are 黑森峰 ('haak san fung'; black forest peak or cliff). Probably the name of a girls' school.



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A DAY OF COLD FOOD (寒食)

The text that that gentleman is writing on the blackboard is 春城無處不飛花,寒食東風御柳斜;日暮漢宮傳蠟燭,輕煙散入五侯家。In the springtime city no place lacks swirling petals, on 'Eat Cold Food Day' the breeze inclines the willows; at dusk there's a flickering of candles in the Han Palace, drifting whisps of smoke enter the homes of the five great lords.

Tang Dynasty regulated verse by Han Hong (韓翃 'hon wang').

寒食 (COLD EAT)

Chun seng mou chü pat fei faa,
Hon-sik tung-fong yü lau che;
Yat-mou hon-gung chuen laap-juk,
Heng yan saan yap ng hau gaa.



NOTES:

The pronunciation of Chinese has deviated since the Tang era (唐朝 'tong chiu' 618 - 907 CE), so the rhymes no longer hold.
The transcription here is in Cantonese.

寒食 ('hon sik'): The day when fires aren't lit and cold food is eaten; the Chingming festival. Usually the fifth day of April, except in leap-years, when it is the fourth. Tomb-sweeping day, when graves are cleaned and ancestors reverenced.
飛花 ('fei faa'): Flying flowers; swirling petals, a flurry of blossoms; a marking of spring.
東風 ('tung fong'): East wind.
御 (''): Manage, govern; resist, defend.
斜 ('che'): Oblique, aslant.
日暮 ('yat mou'): Day-dusk, sunset, at twilight just before darkness.
漢宮 ('hon gung'): The palace of the Han dynasty; here a clue that the poet refers to something both other timed and other placed, as he is writing several centuries later.
蠟燭 ('laap juk'): Waxen tapers; candles and oil lamps for reading by.
散 ('saan'): Dispersing, scattering; leisurely, at random; dispelled, disemployed.
五侯家 ('ng hau gaa'): Literally, "five marquis family", the semi-royal homes, but here an oblique reference to the core of important courtiers and eunuchs.


Like many other examples of regulated verse, especially the single quatrains, the interpretation is dependent on the mood inculcated in the reader, and his or her familiarity with implied details.
Take the thought, and mentally go further.



[Post pursuant an article in Time Magazine: Why Mandarin Won’t Be a Lingua Franca.]



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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THESE ARE OUR FRIENDS THE BRITISH

After today's terror attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem, I scoured news sites. And inevitably ended up at The Guardian, which is Great Britain's premier news site, and often has comments about international affairs from its readers which prove educational.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/middle-east-live/live/2014/nov/18/jerusalem-synagogue-attack-live-updates

Naturally the Brits were horrified.
That Jews should be considered victims.
In the British mind, Jews are always to blame.

Not ALL of them, mind you. There were some decent remarks. But the vast majority of writers there showed that today's Britain may very well be overpopulated by unintelligent, uneducated, uncivilized, and probably unwashed sadistic swine who should not be allowed out.
Ever.


BRITISH VOICES

Follows a list of comments from fine upstanding Brits, reflecting the very finest of values, as only a nation so upstanding as Britain can do.

"I despise violence completely, yet cannot stop thinking where was President Obama and the chorus of international figures, singing the hymn of restraint, when Israel was killing innocent civilians in Gaza?"

"What makes you think he cares - they are not Israeli they are Palestinian."

"This oppression can not go on for ever. Perhaps the Palestinians & Arabs can one day work together, arm themselves adequately with modern weapons & counter the Israeli Military power."

"I'd love it if the Israeli settlers that murder Palestinians, and burnt al aqsa would get their houses demolished."

"Ok, this was, as pointed out, an horrific attack, but it's tame when compared to the state sponsored slaughter inflicted by the IDF, and the problem is that we're likely to see a few hundred innocent Palestinians killed on the back of any action."

"Since the Oslo "PEACE" agreement all Israel has done is to carry out it's illegal activities as registered in the united nations. More settlements a wall that has taken more land away from it's rightful owners mass imprisonment of more than 1.5 million people in gaza, collective punishment of a whole nation, murder and off course OCCUPATION. The Palestinians have now realised that Israel does not want peace,for what it has achieved with force it will not give up peacefully. If Arafat was alive the third Intefada would have started a long time ago. One more point; much thanks to The Guardian for finally allowing an open forum on this issue. Something that will never occur in the USA in print or on any broadcast media and definitely not in the body politic."

"As if Bibi and his AIPAC supporters in the USA had no responsibility for fostering the hatred that incites those acts."

"Yes ... it's only Jewish lives you care about in this conflict, isn't it? Palestinian civilians murdered by Israelis, however ... "

"Israel has destroyed 40 mosques and they expect sympathy from us in the west? How many Palestinians will now be slaughtered over this?"

"Horrific attack; well yes which one. Israeli air strikes on civilian targets in the Gaza Strip. Well yes but attacks plural.
Body count; is Mr Obama keeping the tally."

"Do Israel apologists even hear themselves?"

"Any time you vote for an amerikkkan politician, you are supporting Israel's imperialism and apartheid. Just own it."

"When is the imperialist racist apartheid state of Israel going to be disbanded. These people have proven they can't play well with their neighbors."


And so on.

Well then. Admittedly this is only a cherry-picked selection, and not fully representative. But I did not feel like reading all of the comments, and it is likely that the link I provided will be de-activated once the Guardian's editors realize that it does not reflect well on them and their society.
Public schools, cricket, tea time, and oh jolly nice, what.
Have to maintain the image, for the lesser nations.
Keep the old aspidistra flying and all that.

There will always be an England.


Perhaps that's unfortunate.



Note as of 1:15 PM, November 18: In all fairness, the best reaction I've seen about the thoughts of Guardian readers came from a Facebook friend, who remarked: "It's always the crackpots who comment most fiercely." Which is true. And like readers of De Telegraaf, many people who read The Guardian on the internet (as well as in real life) are certifiable.
It's where you go when you want to be pissed off.




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A PLACE FILLED WITH WHITE PEOPLE

Usually the only ones who eat at odd hours of the day are tourists.
It's that temporal dysfunction that afflicts them when not in their regular place and off their normal schedule. When I entered, there were three occupied tables, all occupied by Caucasians.
Well, it WAS around tea-time.
And I was hungry.

Single people ALSO eat at unsettled times.

Only two of the regular staff were on duty, but one of them handled the non-crowd quite ably. The second was, more or less, taking it easy. Seeing as she's the mom, she's entitled.

I was the only white person there not fluent in German.
But the only customer who spoke Cantonese.
I did not order sweet and sour pork.
Also unlike them.


咕噜肉 GU LOU YIUK

Cantonese-style sweet and sour pork contains sugar, Worcestershire, red food colouring, and vinegar. Plus pork. And frequently tomato ketchup, soy sauce, and canned pineapple. The meat is often battered (egg white and corn flour), deep-fried, then sauced, with scallion, ginger, chopped green bell pepper, and onion, chopped celery optional.
It is a very educational dish.
And you should know that outside of Cantonese Restaurants in foreign climes, this version is rare, almost unknown. It was invented in California for sex, sugar, and nutrition starved gold miners. They were still sex-starved after eating, but at least their tummies were full.

Why all three tables of German tourists ordered sweet and sour pork -- one table ONLY had sweet and sour pork, four orders -- is beyond me. The behaviour of Europeans is often baffling. Drinks: Heineken, Budweiser, Tsingtao, Coca Cola, Sprite, Diet Coke, red wine, and lemon tea.
Same food, but entirely different beverages.
Maybe they were contemplating sex.
I have no way of knowing.
It's possible.


茄子龍利飯 KE-JI LUNG-LEI FAAN

Sik mat-ye? Ke-ji lung-lei faan, m-koi. Hou.
食乜嘢?茄子龍脷飯,唔該。 好。
'What are you going to eat?' 'Eggplant with flounder collops over rice, please.' 'Okay.'

Flounder and sole are both called 'dragon tongue fish' (龍脷魚 'lung lei yü' in Cantonese. Because these and related fishes are flat (因魚身係扁平嘅 'yen yü san pin ping ge'), and due to the fact that specificity in English does not perfectly match terminology in Chinese, there are several similar piscinates under the same name. All combine well with eggplant first fried to colour with ginger and scallion, then seethed with a touch of stock or rice wine and corn flour liquid to sauce. The essence of the dish is speed, as it is with so many Cantonese dishes. In this case a deft hand is doubly essential, because delicately fleshed seafood does not stand up well to a prolonged presence in the pan. Not uncommonly the flounder collops are battered and fried separately, then added at the last moment, as is the approach of mediocre cooks, and many restaurants that lack confidence.
This was not thus; they know what they're doing.
The result was infinitely satisfying.
Especially with hot-sauce.
And 老火湯。


你食咗飯未呀?NEI SIK-JO FAAN MEI AH?

One of the normal greetings when people meet is 'have you eaten yet?'
Obviously this is rather ridiculous when entering a restaurant.
Why would you be there, if you've already eaten?
But the courteous sentiment is implied.
You will eat; that is good.


食咗啦,你有心。Sik-jo laa, nei yau sam. I've eaten, thank you.


"Have heart" (有心 'yau sam') is largely a question of being forthrightly considerate (忠厚 'jung haau'). It is one of those qualities that one should always appreciate in others.
Because in all honesty (老老實實 'lou lou sat sat'), it is rare.
It adds a glow to human relations.



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Monday, November 17, 2014

HELLO KITTY, FOR DEPRAVITY AND BRAIN-FEVER

A reader cautions me that I should respect Hello Kitty.

Dire things will happen otherwise.


"Hello Kitty must NOT be insulted. Or else!"


Okay then. Hello Kitty is a sleazy skank ratzen-fress. Quite possibly the antichrist of felines, a bitch from the darkest pit. I spit in her general direction. AND she smells of elderberries!
Poo on Hello Kitty.


For a complete file on what I think of the tacky-ass dumb pussy, please click here: Hello Kitty, all mentions.



I'm still using my adorable Hello Kitty backpack for pipes and tobacco, especially when I head toward Marin County. Half a dozen briars, plus three or four smoking mixtures, two tampers, and a thick bundle of mixed pipe cleaners (regular, bristly, and Vauen).
Also some eleutherococus senticosus pills, and ampules of rehmannia extract in a dilute honey base, to help me deal with the nuts.
Hello Kitty scares away the zombies.
Which totally makes sense.
She's worse.





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HERE ARE THE ANSWERS

Monday is a day of rest. Not for everyone, but certainly for me. Yesterday I spent four hours listening to yowling of headhunters and the savage beating of war drums, as nearly a dozen sportsfiends with cigars "appreciated" a foot ball game in the lounge. Instead of calmly exclaiming "oh jolly good show, eh", they screamed and foamed and stomped.
Surprisingly, none of them ruptured a vessel.
Which I was expecting at any moment.
I had a cold washcloth handy.

Actually, not so much a washcloth as an ancient rag which had seen better days. The coffee stains had rinsed out, mostly, but it was still grungy grey, and had a slight (overwhelming) pong of bleach, as well as that stale waxy odour that cloth gets from a lot of industrial washing.
It would have revived them. Anyone of them.
I was looking forward to applying it.
A ruckus is better than sports.


It is time to deal with more important matters. Specifically, readers and their needs. Closer to my heart (and my own interests) than a bunch of loud inhabitants of Marin hepped to the gills on cigars and coffee; at the present time I myself am mildly stimulated and awake due to a fine short Dominican perfecto and a cup of Turkish, which does not qualify as hepped to the gills, just awake and stimulated; I am a calm reflective man.


In the past twenty four hours, people have found this blog by entering the following searches:


DO WOMEN SMOKE PIPES

Indeed they do. There are a number who indulge, and what sets them apart is that on the whole they have good taste, and a preference for pipes that are neither excessively large nor particularly delicate. Bowls within a sensible range of dimensions and shapes, that are comfortable in the hand and handsome to the eye. As all good pipes should be.
Indicative of restraint and intelligence.

Some women favour aromatics, but the milder examples rather than the overly perfumed skank blends that big butch men with psychological issues smoke. A few of them have gravitated towards full English style mixtures, which have that delightful resinous smoky quality (Turkish and Latakia on base of flue-cured ribbon).
Almost none of the ones I have met go for flakes or Virginia and Perique compounds. The reason is probably because the latter appeal more to all day regular smokers, having a softer flavour and more nicotine, than to the person who smokes maybe one pipe a day. I have a fond fantasy that some women pull out a tin of dark Virginia once they're home, light up and kick back with a good book, but the actuality seems to be that they prefer a bold mood changer instead.
Perhaps in the company of a significant other, but not necessarily so.
Some of them still hide it from their prudish love-interest.


FU PEI CHUN DIM SUM

Tofu skin roll. Fu pei (腐皮) is the film that coagulates on top of the vat when making bean curd, which is lifted off and hung to dry. To use, it is soaked to soften, then rolled around a tasty filling, much like making an eggroll.
The result is either steamed OR fried.

An example of the steamed variety is a fu pei hoi sin kuen (腐皮海鮮捲), which contains seafood; the tofu skin protects the contents from an excess of heat, and though softened still presents a toothsomeness after cooking. Pan-frying yields a jing fu pei kuen (煎腐皮卷), which is more savoury, and has a chewy filling to contrast with the crisper skin. Both are available at tea houses which have a larger repertoire. Read more about such things here: Dim sum: kinds, names, pronunciation, and experiment with the subject at the establishments listed in this post: Dim sum restaurants in San Francisco.

[Under a post written in august 2012 ('looking forward to snacks') a reader calling him or herself 'Spikey' asked: "What is a fupeikuen?". Spikey, it's a roll of tofu skin around a savoury filling, steamed, frequently after a quick-fry to develop a golden flavour.]

Note that dim sum restaurants where the selection to choose from comes out of the kitchen on carts are more suitable for groups, or at least pluralities of eaters; as a single man I am far more likely to go New Fortune Dim Sum (富祥點心) on Stockton Street (between California and Clay), Yummy Dim Sum and Fast Food (金華點心快餐) on Stockton between Clay and Washington, and even House of Dim Sum (園林點心) at 735 Jackson Street where the selection is somewhat greater than the other two but one is more likely to encounter stupid tourists late in the day. They know me at all three places, and I feel at home there.
Life is good.


GL PEASE

A very well known tobacco blender and brand, with an enormous range of fine products. An overview (over 30 blends) can be found here: Greg Pease, a representative sampling. Personally I am very fond of Westminster (a medium full English and a modern classic), Union Square (for true lovers of Virginias), and both Sextant (orgasmic) and Navigator (addictive).
He has his own internet presence here: GLPease.com.
Drop by and tell him Atboth said 'hi'.


HEEREN-BAAI

Gentlemen's Bay Tobacco. The very best ribbon cut Maryland, often with a mere touch of flue-cured leaf. This was a traditional Dutch preference for many years, as it is simple and good, and a century ago was considered so clean and healthy that even children and invalids should have a bowl.
But times have changed.
Bay tobacco was so named because it was shipped from the Chesapeake.

Informative blogpost here: Taconis et autres.
Some brands reviewed: Baai Tabak.

I haven't written about Stad Ootmarsum yet, because it represents an even older preference, that being a generic curly ribbon with a somewhat coarser flavour. But it is probably one of very few tobacco types still produced in the Netherlands, as the overwhelming majority are now made in Denmark.


HONG KONG FESTIVE GOOSE RECIPE

Delicious! Read how to make it here: 燒鵝 'siu ngoh'.
Now go cook it at home yourself.
And invite me over.


HOW TO CLEAN SEA CUCUMBERS

This takes up to a week of pre-prep, so think ahead.

Put the dried sea cucumber in a pot of water for a day. Change water, and simmer for an hour or so with a few slices of dried ginger and optionally a piece of dried tangerine peel (陳皮 'chan pei'). Once it has cooled down, rinse it and scrub gently with a vegetable brush. Remove any hard parts on the outside. Simmer it again, with fresh water and ginger. Then place it in fresh hot water with a pinch of sugar and a few slices of ginger.
Let it cool, and place it in the refrigerator.
Replace the water the next day.
Repeat the day after.

Smaller sea cucumbers require only three days of soaking, larger sea cucumbers may need four or five days. When softened and increased substantially in size, take it out. Cut it open and rinse inside and out. Then slice it, and cook it in a sauce or with other ingredients.

Recipe here: soaking and braising see cucumber.


HOW TO SOAK DRIED OYSTER

Ho si (蠔豉) only take an hour or so of soaking before they are ready to use. If you are planning to include them in a dish wich will take a longer time to cook, soak them for a shorter period. Always rinse them before adding to the pot. Recipe here: 好事發財


LET ME LOOK AT YOUR BIG NIPPLES

No.

This surprising search yielded my site because I am one of the very few bloggers to write about other people's weirdness in a cool clinical fashion, treating the subjects objectively. But I haven't written about big nipples, or the opportune viewing of same, and probably shan't do so either.

I like nipples. Many people also like nipples.
But I am more interested in the person.
Nipples ARE a requirement.
I am a mammal


SHAM TSENG CHAN KEE ROASTED GOOSE

Here's the place:

深井陳記燒鵝酒家 
SHAM TSENG CHAN KEE SIU NGOH JAU KA
Ground floor, 63 Sham Tseng Village, Castle Peak Road, Sham Tseng.
New Territories, Hong Kong.
新界, 深井, 青山公路, 深井村 63號, 地下


TWO GIBBONS ON A PIPA TREE YI YUANYI

It's not a pi-pa, but an oak.



Painting by Yi Yuanji (易元吉 'Yeung Yuen-kat').

I am very fond of animals.




CHERIE CHUNG

During the eighties, Cherie Chung Chor-hung (鍾楚紅) was one of the most luminous Hong Kong actresses to appear in movies. Her obvious intelligence shone through in every role, her charm and vulnerability conquered the hearts and minds of an entire generation of young male adults. Not a classic beauty -- thank heavens there aren't any such critters -- but an overwhelming screen presence. Many of her roles were subdued examples, rather than anything approaching big, bold, brassy.
She made you fall in love with an ideal.


One of her best movies was 'An Autumn's Tale (秋天的童話 'chau tin dik tung waa' 1987), she was also stellar in 'Peking Opera Blues' (刀馬旦 'dou maa daan' 1986). She stopped acting in 1991.
Both films are well worth searching for.



Are there any questions?



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Sunday, November 16, 2014

THIS POST IS ALL ABOUT BEEF CHOW FUN

There are very few places in the Financial District that serve noodles, and virtually none that have decent ngau yiuk chau fan (乾炒牛河 'gon chaau ngau ho'). The Financial District, while close to Chinatown, and containing nearly as many Chinese worker bees as white drones, caters very largely to a completely unimaginative ('dull') suburban horde.
Lots of salads. Lots of burgers and pizzas.
Burritos coming out the ears.
Sandwiches.

Plus pasta bowls, fruit and wheatgrass shakes, energy drinks, and bags of crispy crunchy grease-crackers. It's like a giant theme park.

No decent chow fun anywhere!


You should play hooky sometime. Tell the boss that you need two hours for lunch, and head into Chinatown for something good, something that the fat gun freak in the next cubicle can't pronounce, and will not touch.

I could suggest any number of dishes, but if you're the type who finds the idea attractive, you probably already have dishes that set your mouth drooling, or you may wish to experiment.

Along with a plate of chow fun.

Go ahead, do it.


On the other hand, you could just call in sick, cough convincingly into voicemail, perhaps moan theatrically, then hang up and burst out cackling. Read all morning in your jammies, take a nice long bath, then head into Chinatown all fresh and fragrant, for something cheap, greasy, slippery, and delicious. But stick to Stockton Street, it's far enough uphill and into the scary jungle that none of the large East-Bay dumptrucks you work with will venture there during lunch and blow your cover.
Just imagine them huff, huff, huffing uphill.
Cheap costume jewelry jangling.
Rolls trembling.
Sweat.


Imagine a young woman doing this. Perhaps a recent college graduate, who has landed a rewarding job in one of the downtown corporations or law firms. Yes, the money is okay, especially if she still lives at home. One of her blonde dingbat coworkers -- the one from the Midwest, who is having an affair with the senior vice president and consequently will be promoted, as is customary among her class -- bellyaches about the sky-high rent, and how expensive this horrible HORRIBLE city is, why can't all these un-hip people just LEAVE, because a city like San Francisco is wasted on ethnic types! But for those who haven't moved here in the last two years following the internet start-up dream, it's not a bad place.
Anyhow, our recent college graduate lives at home.
And doesn't get drunk every night.
Or eat out much.

Acting like a twenty-something young hip consumer slut with all the latest fashionable gear and no taste whatsoever just isn't her style.
She works with those people, she doesn't emulate them.

It's quiet during the middle of the day, the house is empty.

The perfect time to watch detective series on television, drink hot chocolate, and hug a teddy bear.
"Dare I smoke a cigar", she wonders, and "will the smell dissipate before anyone comes home?"

"Perhaps I should open the windows."

That means that she should put on a warm bathrobe over her jammies. Because it's cold outside. And it also presents a quandary, as the smell will take a few hours to fade. She'd have to leave windows open while going off to lunch. That might not be wise; living in the city one hears about burglaries.
One the other hand, smoking outdoors means that she will have to get dressed, and wander afield a bit. Can't have the neighbors reporting that she was seen with a lit stogie promenading up and down the street.
There's that Russian woman next door, for instance.
A thoroughly venomous old gossip.
So maybe no cigar.
Dang.

Just a cigie near the back bedroom window. During commercial breaks.
Her bedroom, her stinky smell, surely no one will notice?

There are so few places where a well-bred young woman can light up a cigar without being subjected to the company of fat middle-aged brutes and bastards dropping 'F' bombs left and right. It's really very sad.
Even the cigar bar on Pine Street is problematic.
Two television sets for the sports fans.
That guarantees screaming.
And 'F' bombs.


My heart goes out to all the well-bred young women who smoke cigars or eat chow-fun. It can't be easy in a city filled with venomous Russians, stinky midwesterners, large suburban heffalumps, and internet yuppies.


I myself am not a cigar smoker. But I don't mind the smell.




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ADD THIS TO YOUR CELEBRATION

It's less than two weeks till the biggest holiday event in the United States, a precious part of our tradition. Yes, that's right; the shopping frenzy on Black Friday. With numerous violent incidents. Because cheap matters, bitches.
Though I was born here, I did not grow up here. Consequently I am not vested in American cannibalism.

I would prefer a new tradition.

It's a bit late, but I should like to propose 'The First Annual Running of the Turkeys'. An event in which all the suburban fattaboolas get some exercise, by huffing along with brainless fowl in a public spectacle.
The best venue would be Pinole.

Don't you think that's far better than your aunties slaughtering other women on their drive to be the first amazon into Macy's? Or your uncles camping out at Best Buy for two weeks, so that they can lead the bargain stampede?


At several grasping chains, black Friday starts at six in the evening on Thursday. Which is un-American, and rather despicable.

I might suggest vandalism, but that's illegal.
Tonnes of turkey poop is better.
And feathers everywhere.

Run, Turkeys.

Run.




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Saturday, November 15, 2014

THE MARCH OF PROGRESS

One of the fixtures of every neighborhood used to be a place where you could buy tobacco. No, not a corner liquor store with sixpacks of nasty American beer or cheap whiskey for your alcoholic uncle, but an actual tobacconist. It was often a wondrous place with colourful and strange graphic elements -- pictures of leaves and colourful natives, sailing ships, Conestoga wagons, and distant volcanic mountains -- suffused with a most marvelous odour. Visits by children were not encouraged, except if they were buying cartons of Kent Filter Kings (with the famous micronite filter!) for their moms, or their dad's Camels and Crotchstabbers.

Crotchstabbers was an affectionate nickname for St. Michel cigarettes.
The image below shows why.


[SOURCE: cigarettespedia.com .]


Of course, the neighborhood smokeshop was a favourite destination of children, because it always smelled so good. I'm rather appalled at today's fastidious brats who act like cretins around tobacco.

Coffee, tea, cocoa, and tobacco are the colonial products that fuelled the development of the modern world. It is unlikely that they would have lives nearly as comfortable and secure without that development.

I bought a pouch of dark Dutch shag at one such place when I was nine years old. It was another five years before I purchased more tobacco for myself. By that time I had acquired a pipe, and, having grown tired of looking at it but not smelling it, I decided to rectify the situation.
Something horrible by Niemeyer seemed the ticket.

That particular smoking product no longer exists, and is probably not fondly lamented. Within two years I was lighting up sooty mixtures with Latakia to enjoy while swilling cup after cup of hot Ceylon tea. It was comfortable then, twiddling around between bookstores and tobacconists, but now there are very few "real" places left.

Books, pens and inks, hot tea, and a favourite tobacco.

People don't read or smoke anymore.


PRECIOUS AND SUB-LITERATE

Tobacco stores have long been disappearing, along with good stationers, bookstores, and places where you can purchase a half-pound of loose tea without whiny asshats in the background complaining that there is not enough soy-milk in their hazelnut pistachio grande.
"I need more low-faaaat!"

You know, if you add enough low-fat crap to your beverages, eventually you too will be low-fat. Like a mystic third-worlder. Honest!

Starbucks; hot muck for Dick and Jane.

Dick and Jane suck.

If you wonder why I hang out in Chinatown a lot, that's why. It hasn't been taken over by vegetarians with imagined allergies, very real cellular devices, and chain coffee joints. Uncles and granddads still smoke there, tea is sold in bulk, there are places where ink and paper can be bought, and no one cares how entitled or politically correct you are.

Your fantasy food intolerance is not relevant.
Neither is your unique spiritualism.


I know of only a few restaurants in Chinatown that are strictly vegetarian. They look like sad little places that cater to washed-out white people, and one of them is run by a neurotic cult.



You can no longer find St. Michel cigarettes in the United States, or Roth-Händle, Reval, Khedive, Kyriazi Frères Finas, nor most of the other lovely and enticing packs, tins, and boxes. Woodbines, Three Castles, Craven "A", Kings Cross, 555 non-filter, or Black Cat? Forget it!
It's all very regulated now, we've become civilized!
But you can have tofu and wheatgrass stuffed down your throat by serious-minded white people almost anywhere.
There's no limit on that.


If one day you find me hunkered down behind the recycling bins in a deserted alley, with a hot cup of milk-tea, a favourite pipe and tobacco, and a book, don't you dare disturb me.
I shall bite you if you do.

And turn off your cellphone.

Thank you.




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Friday, November 14, 2014

DELIGHTFUL DELICIOUS TENDER TASTY GREAT CRUNCHY CRISPY ASIAN FLAIR!

Some people are very far from civilization. No, I'm not talking about Texas, though it would be reasonable to hazard that guess. Texas is not a place but a toxic state of mind, and therefore it cannot be anywhere near to or distant from civilization.

Dot. Dot. Dot.

Dot. Dot. Dot.

Actually, that's unfair. Some people do live in Texas, poor bastards.


They're probably the target audience for this product:

Canned Chicken Chow Mein


CITE:
"La Choy Chicken Chow Mein is our most popular meal and combines a delightful medley of Asian-style vegetables with tender cuts of chicken in a tasty sauce."
End cite.

It's a miracle of modern technology. All the convenience of a Chinese take-out restaurant in the middle of a barbarian wilderness filled with howling hairy savages and viciously judgmental Southern Baptists; the kind of people who make methamphetamine in their bathtub and brutalize the local wildlife.

Perhaps that is Texas. Don't know, not planning to find out.

La Choy Chicken Chow Mein. Yum.
Just like their beef chow mein, the chicken chow mein "tastes" great over rice. Or crispy noodles.

Because neither product actually contains noodles.

CITE:
"La Choy Beef Chow Mein is an exciting matchup of Asian-style vegetables with tender cuts of beef in a delicately seasoned sauce. It is great over rice or La Choy Chow Mein Noodles."

And:

"La Choy crispy Chow Mein Noodles and Rice Noodles add Asian flair when you need to top off your favorite main dishes, salads, and sides. Add the perfect crunch to your meal with our delicious crispy Asian noodles."
End cite.

[Source, all these fine products: http://www.lachoy.com/.]


At this point, you may be tempted to explain WTF?!?!

Mein by definition means noodles. Specifically noodles made from wheat flour. Chow mein means fried noodles. Pan fried noodles.

Let me repeat that: there are NO noodles in either the beef or the chicken chow mein.


Feel free to pour it over your refried beans or tuna casserole.


Just add bacon, cheese, and pickled jalapeños.


Or layer it between sliced bread.


With some Miracle Whip.


And black olives.




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Thursday, November 13, 2014

BALLS!

In receipt of an absurd e-mail:

Dear Atboth, 



As you may have heard, my race for the US Senate is heading to a runoff election on December 6. For months now, my opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy has hidden from the voters of Louisiana. He’s been the beneficiary of millions of dollars spent by the Cock Brothers to distort and twist my record of fighting and delivering for Louisiana. Those days are now over. Congressman Cassidy cannot not hide from his record anymore.



These next 23 days are about the future of Louisiana and who has a proven record of fighting for Louisianans every day. I promise to fight every day until the runoff election for the values that we believe in — the values that I have fought for in the US Senate for 18 years now.

I have won two runoff elections in the past, and I can do it again with your support. I just need the resources to mobilize my key supporters once again. 


Election Day was tough for us and our friends, and I know that you have already put so much into this cycle, but I need a little more help to win this election on December 6 -- and to ensure that Democrats hold as many Senate seats as possible in order to keep the margin close and increase our chances of passing good legislation.



I would be grateful if you would contribute $2,600 (or whatever you can afford to do) towards my runoff election. The runoff is considered a new election, so individuals can legally contribute another $2,600 per person, even if you have already maxed out to my campaign this cycle. Here is the link to give online: www.marylandrieu.com/2014runoff


Thanks for your consideration and your unbelievable support of Democrats everywhere. We can win this one!



Warm regards, 


--Mary



Here's what should pass as a response, though directed elsewhere rather than back:


Dear Democratic Party,

The nerve! Look, in general I support you guys against the rabid dingbats on the right, but having your ethically deprived "we'll do anything to stay in power" whores and pimps begging for spare change is an affront. What makes you think anyone really wants to throw money at you spendthrifts? And when some hosebag who waves the Keystone Pipeline in a last ditch attempt to keep her arse in Washington sends out e-mails attempting to morally blackmail potential contributors -- on behalf of a seat in Lost Cause Country, nota bene -- it gets to be a bit much. Indeed, we have enemies in common; so did Winston Churchill and Joe Stalin. Don't make more of a mere coincidence than there is.

Mary Landrieu's disgusting struggle to disassociate herself from our president AND kiss-ass to vested interests by pandering to illiterate damned bigots in a swamp, is one of the most reprehensible and loathsome political spectacles I have seen yet.

Please go blow some sailors if you're desperate.

Warm regards,


--ATBOTH

PS.: Do not construe this as support for the Republicans. Screw them with a broken bottle. Thank you. They can have Louisiana. Who the hell cares?

By the way, in the weeks leading up to the recent election here in San Francisco, I received enough printed propaganda from Democrats to build a tree. I threw out bales of it. In most cases I didn't even read it, except for the crap that the David Campos supporters sent out. That I did read, then I used it to wipe up dog shit on the pavement outside my house. Thank the good lord that that piece of dreck lost the election. The last thing that San Franciscans need is for any part of Tom Ammiano's legacy to be perpetuated.

Thanks to Tom and the ultra-left harpies, I currently support mandatory regular drug testing and psychological profiling for all politicans; with the results to be published at their expense.

My mailbox is not a garbage dump.
Stop pretending otherwise.




Please note: some names have been changed, to protect the innocent.



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POOPED OUT FROM THE PLANET ZIRTEK

Someone I know is convinced that a mutual acquaintance is a space alien. Despite the clear evidence that she is from Scotland. Well, perhaps not so clear; she speaks excellent English, and is fully intelligible. That's a lusus naturae for Scots. And a miracle almost like the second coming. But her rational friends know that she's from Scotland.
And a very kind person, too. Gentle.

He's remains convinced that she's a space alien. All space aliens claim they're from Scotland, it gives them automatic cover. People will assume, he says, that so-and-so is NOT a space alien, he or she is from Scotland; that explains the eccentric behaviour, colourful speech and mannerisms, and sometimes visible antennas. It's a "Scottish thing".
Scots don't have antennas, I keep telling him.
But apparently I don't know anything.


I've got to stop encouraging the nutballs. It's like living in a zoo.


San Francisco is the catch-basin of the continental United States.
All the crazy flowed downhill.



We need to demand that the rest of the country take back all their defective specimens. We don't want them, and they'll add to the diversity in dishwater places like Mississippi and Oklahoma.
Where they need people who think different.
We've got plenty of those.

All of you convinced that space aliens live among us, go home.

The mothership is bringing us more Scots.
They've been pooped out by Zirtek.
My haggis just grew antennas.
It's a sign.




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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SOMETIMES IT RAINS

A woman in Chinatown asked me if I had been back to Hong Kong. The question is interesting, because we had never discussed Hong Kong, she just assumed that I learned Cantonese over there.
Actually, I learned it mostly from the movies.
Flawless slangy thug accent.

I started going to the Chinese cinema up the street from my residence back in the eighties. There were several theatres still operating at that time -- The World, The Pagoda Palace, Sun Sing, Taai Ming Sing, and the Wah Seng -- and every week each would have a different double bill. Show up whenever, pay your five bucks, stay as long as you want. Watch both movies more than once, as well as the commercials. Eat lovely snackies and smoke cigarettes in the back row.
Fun for the whole family.

Salt plums, dried cuttle fish, red tongue plums, dried mango, licorice plums, toasted sesame sago crisps, white rabbit, haw pastilles, sunflower seeds, fruit-flavour pork jerky......


There isn't a single Chinese movie theatre still operating in the city. It was once a common shared ambiance, now it's a thing of the past.

I met a someone I dated for a while through the theatres. She liked hot chocolate with whipped cream. We went out several times.
She looked cute with whipped cream on her nose.
No. Nothing. I'm just mentioning a fond memory.
Hot chocolate with whipped cream is very nice.

So are little button noses.

Coming from a different background, I associated whipped cream with Irish Coffee. And though I haven't had Irish coffee in a very long time, because it is made very badly in San Francisco (bar coffee, ugh!), I still have that link in my brain. I probably didn't even like Irish coffee very much, but it was something my father and my brother and I had after biriani and korma at the Indian restaurant in Eindhoven.

The Netherlands did not have much a restaurant culture back then. Eindhoven had a number of Indonesian and Chinese restaurants, and not very much else, other than places serving deep-fried weird. The very first restaurant where we ate in that town, before we even moved from Naarden, was Restaurant Swatow on the Keizersgracht.
In Valkenswaard we ate at Restaurant Hong Kong on the Luikerweg a few times, as well as at Restaurant Belleveu, and a few others right on the Market Square. It was rather limited in those years.

Rice-stick noodles in soup with roast meats and chives at the houses of friends. Or bami goreng, which is Indonesian-style fried noodles with spicy additions, topped with an egg.

French fries with mayonnaise. And deep fried weird.

I first had a dowsabau (豆沙飽 sweet bean-paste bun) at China Garden in Eindhoven. I was teaching someone there Dutch at the time. The taste was recognizable -- the filling was something I already knew -- but the idea of a steamed sweet bread was novel. A few months later I had a linyongbau (蓮蓉飽 lotus seed paste bun) at the old Tong Ah.
Yes, I was tutoring Dutch that time also. Different student.
Being bi-lingual in English and Dutch had advantages.
Like steamed doughy buns with delicious fillings.
Or fish with peanuts, cilantro, and chilies.
Many other tasty things.


Upon returning to the United States -- a country of which I had almost no memory, having been all of two years old when we left -- everything was new, foreign, and in some cases downright shocking. American coffee, for instance, was a repulsive stale weak beverage with no redeeming feature, tea was insipid and lukewarm, bread was soft spongy non-food, and fries were limp oil-drenched monstrosities.
Peet's in Berkeley had good coffee, the Caffe Mediterraneum had good espresso drinks, the Trieste on Vallejo in San Francisco was a refuge. Tea? No, had to rely on myself for that. Americans drank herbal crap.

The bread is still bloody awful, and most places can't fry a spud if their lives depend on it.

But the Chinese food is excellent.

Still haven't found a place that does poached fish with peanuts, cilantro, and chilies -- that may be a Chekiang or Shanghai dish, judging by the people who prepared it -- but the linyongbau and dowsabau are quite as yummy as they were in Holland, the little flaky pastries with delicious fillings likewise, and the coffee and tea have improved somewhat.

I haven't helped as many people learn Dutch as before. For some strange reason it just isn't one of the things for which there's much demand in the States.


It's getting colder now that summer is over. That suggests a warm movie theatre or similar crowded public place in which to ensconce oneself for several hours, snacky foods, deep fried unidentifiable objects (random examples in Dutch: Frikandel, Kroket, Bamibal; in Chinese: 煎堆 'jin dui', 芋角 'wu gok', 炸粉果 'ja fan gwo'), and hot beverages.
Perhaps even something with whipped cream.

I haven't been back in years.
To the Netherlands, that is.


November in Holland can be horrid.
It's warmish in HK at this time.
Sometimes it rains. Or not.
San Francisco is ok.

及時雨。




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ARE AROMATIC TOBACCOS LESS MANLY?

Some readers come here by looking for answers to all the wrong questions. Usually what they find stares them right back in the face, and wiggles its tongue out at them. "What", they may have asked, "can I do to get the lovely Kumiko to jump into the sack with my dessicated old self?" And the answer is "pray for a miracle, you nasty old prune". Trust me. I have a direct line to Kumiko. She can't stand your ass. Loathes it, despises it, hates it utterly, and wishes you not only stop breathing heavily whenever she's around, but stop breathing altogether.
She doesn't know WHERE you got that naked picture of her from.
But she suspects that photoshop had a role in it.
Never-the-less, it's embarrassing.

Naked pictures are always embarrassing. There are none of me. I am never naked when there are cameras around. Or cell-phones.
I don't even own a cell-phone.

Imagine how painful it would be if I was naked, and someone else had a cell-phone. And it rang.

"Oh hello." "No, nothing." "Nah, I'm just here with my friend... who is a naked middle-aged man with a pipe in his mouth and a silly smirk on his face." "Describe him?   
I couldn't. You'll just have to see for yourself."


CLICK!!!!!!!!!


And within minutes her father decides that I am not the right man for his daughter. Yeah, she's old enough to make her own decisions now. And her own ghastly mistakes. It's her life. But no. This one is just wrong.
Time to hang up the wanted posters. Hire a hitman. Or hitwoman.
Cell-phones can be a problem when there is nudity.
Always, ALWAYS, wear something.
Hide your sinfulness.
Don't smirk.


PUMPKIN SPICE CAVENDISH? GOOD LORD!

Anyhow, the other day someone found my blog by posting the query "are aromatic tobaccos less manly?" To which the answer is 'yes'. Yes, they jolly-well are. Aromatic tobaccos are a sign of posturing depravity, weak spine, and a lack of vital juices. The Kremlin had a hand in their development, and generations of men who were fooled into smoking that garbage eventually became nauseating old sex-maniacs, waggling their hairless behinds in sleazy hotel rooms, shaking their wattles at innocent schoolgirls, and desperately hoping the mega-dose of Viagra wouldn't fail them this time. Anyone who smokes aromatics habitually has no taste, no intellect, and quite likely possesses all the manners and morals of a prancing Yorkshire hod-carrier.
Likely they will catch diseases from toilet seats.
Rot from the inside out before dying.
Vote the solid Jesus ticket.

Almost all the people I know who smoke fruit-flavoured pipe-tobacco have shallow little minds, countless depravities, rotten gums, and stained underwear. They whip themselves nightly. There's a collection of spiked rubber garments under their beds. They weep without reason.
They have existential crises.

A real man smokes either English mixtures -- Latakia and Turkish on a basis of Virginia leaf -- or restrained and civilised flakes or VaPers (Virginia blends with a smidge of Perique tobacco).
A real woman does likewise.

Aromatic tobaccos are, by definition, not real.
Good tobacco does not need fruity sauce.
Aromatics are syphilis set aflame.


Yes, some very good friends smoke aromatics. I keep telling myself that they're doing so ironically.



One of the nastiest things I know is fifty percent Mango Cavendish, with the rest golden cherry-vanilla ribbon. It is a very popular product. I've never been able to finish more than half a bowl.
A perfectly beastly tobacco.





TOBACCO INDEX


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