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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

CHEESE AND BUGS

During the night I dreamed of Switzerland. Which is unusual. The normal person has little if any reason to visit the place while slumbering. And it has been a long time since I went there. Bern, Appenzell, Zurich, Basel.
Vierwaldstättersee, Altdorf, Fribourg, Schaffhausen.
Graubünden, Aargau, Thurgau.
Gland.

Every summer for several years our family would head to Switzerland to enjoy that which was unavailable in the Netherlands. Something which in San Francisco I take for granted. Verticality.

Switzerland has topography and three dimensions, whereas the mud flat along the North Sea where we resided was nearly as flat as a pancake.
Except for Limburg, but though that area is beautiful, it is filled with weirdoes grunting unintelligibly, and unsuitable for vacations.
Limburg is rather like Yorkshire.

My mother loved the Swiss mountainscapes, and we would descend on a hotel or gasthof which was near a stream. I remember building dams with big rocks, getting bit by horseflies, and beleaguered by june bugs for hours on end -- you avoid both horseflies and junebugs by swimming in the cold, cold water -- then heading back to our lodgings for dinner along sunlit hillside dirt roads.

[June bugs: Actually the cockchafer or billywitch. But my parents were more American than they realized, and in our family those things were called june bugs. The Dutch name is 'meijkever', in German it is 'maikäfer', and in Polish they call it a 'chrząszcz' (pronounced 'shahnsht') or 'chrabąszcz' ('khraabonsht'). That last datum is not relevant.]


There's something about Swiss mountain streams that just begs for regulation, order, and deep large pools formed by building dikes and waterbreaks out of rocks. I suspect that may have been an entirely subconscious influence from living in the Netherlands, which is a very rectalinear kind of place.

Swiss food was a welcome change from both my mother's military-style cooking, and the many Dutch comestibles of which she disapproved.
I may have mentioned before that she had odd ideas about what was edible, and a disdain for the eating preferences of the natives in North Brabant.
About which she knew surprisingly little.
Her awareness what they actually ate was, quite probably, limited to herring, nasi goreng, and fried potatoes.
Their bakery products met her wholehearted approval.
She remained vague about everything else.

[From Wikipedia: "In some areas and times, cockchafers were even served as food. A 19th century recipe from France for cockchafer soup reads: "roast one pound of cockchafers without wings and legs in sizzling butter, then cook them in a chicken soup, add some veal liver and serve with chives on a toast". And a German newspaper from Fulda from the 1920s tells of students eating sugar-coated cockchafers. A cockchafer stew is referred to in W.G. Sebald's novel The Emigrants."]


The drive from Valkenswaard to Switzerland usually took several days, as it was interrupted by elevenses, lunch, teatime snacks, and dinner. Southern Belgium, Northern France, Bavarian village restaurants with wursten, and finally the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

European food can be quite good. And thanks to the Michelin Guide as well as recommendations from Henri Kater, we ate very well while on the road.
Strangely, all I really remember is trout, and ten thousand porky things.
Plus white wine (mostly Riesling and Elbling), and ice cream.
Kaffee-schnapps, and tea mit einer zitronenscheibe.

And, naturally, the Wiener Schnitzel.
It's the signature dish of Europe.
Available everywhere.
With parsley.


If I go to Switzerland again, I shall rent a motor vehicle and discover cheeses. Surely there is more to their fromage than just holes?




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Sunday, December 21, 2014

PUNTERS!

Recently my apartment mate was talking over the phone with friend who will be visiting Canada soon. Canada is a very fine country, make no mistake, and has much to recommend it.
But their interpretation of junk-food is not among that.

"For the love of God, do NOT eat the fried chicken!"

She remembers how impossibly ghastly the fried chicken was in Vancouver. Apparently, it was nightmare inducing.

The last time she visited Vancouver was when she and I were still a couple. That was in February of 2008. We often ate separately during that trip, because we both liked exploring the city on our own. Being Chinese, her curiosity took her to some very strange places, and coupled with the hunger ("the HUNGER!") which people of that cultural and ethnic background are 'blessed' with, some ill-advised culinary choices were made.
By her. Not me. Her. I ate well.

Vancouver has great fish. Stick with the fish.

Avoid the fried chicken.

I have never been disappointed in fried chicken. Ever. This is because as a typical Dutchman, I lack faith. I do not trust food cooked by people who do not have a reasonable presumption of reliability regarding what they serve.
Canada is not a fried chicken culture. They are a poutine culture.
No one else does poutine like them.


EPIC CANADIAN CUISINE


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u88th9aedKU.]


I showed that clip to my ex. Her comment? "God, I love that frog! I'd run off with him in a minute! Leave all of you punters in the dust! 
Even the wheel chair dude!"

My reaction was considerably more rational.
I wanted some poutine. "Peeyew-teen."
Fries, cheese curd, beef gravy.
I've had it; it's delicious.


"I love that frog; I'd run off with him in a minute!"


There are, to the best of my knowledge, no darling little poutineries within easy distance of my abode. It is inexplicable. This must be an oversight. Surely so food-savy a city as San Francisco puffs itself would not overlook the glorious Canadian contribution to the cooked arts?

Life can be very disappointing.



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A SHELFISH BRUTE

Most of the past week I have pretended to be an oyster. No, I haven't worn a bivalvular home-made shell-costume while wandering the streets of San Francisco, what I mean by that is that I have mostly stayed in when not involved in fiddling with pipes across the Golden Gate Bridge. Occasionally, I have blown bubbles and hummed to myself, as oysters are wont to do.

The week has been both busy and moist.

If you see something evil lurking beneath the surface of the water as you flap your wings across the slough, that will be me.
Best fly faster, I have harpoon.

Largely I have been ignoring the season. Other people's insane drang to spend their life's savings has little impact, and though I have not been there I imagine that the downtown is a seething madhouse.


I do most of my Christmas shopping in July.

Just thought you should know.

Can I gloat? Yes.

Yes I can.



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Saturday, December 20, 2014

WELL PLAYED SIR!

It turns out that some schools have peculiar traditions. Schools such as King's College and other polytechnics in Great Britain, where social club and fraternity initiations frequently involve faeces, genitalia, and outright homosexual debauchery. All of which are calculated to make you a mannish and chappish sort of lad.
You always knew the British were peculiar.
You just didn't know how much.


BUT THERE IS HOPE!

Like the Rugby club at the London School of Economics, this blogger also disapproves of group activities that involve faeces, genitalia, and outright homosexual debauchery.

I've always believed that anything involving faeces and genitalia should be more private; just one for the first, two for the second. And as regards homosexual debauchery, I have not considered the matter. But likely it too should only involve one person, or at most two.
Not outright, but discreet.

My own debauchery has been neither homosexual nor unnecessarily pluralistic. As well as hypothetical. I cannot even claim that I practise a lot when I'm alone.



From a leaflet handed out by the London School of Economics Rugby Club during Freshman Week:

On initiation ceremonies: 'We do not tolerate Poly activities that involve faeces, genitalia, and outright homosexual debauchery'.

On the slang term 'gary': 'Ancient terminology of contentious origins meaning to chat up a trollop. Eg. "I'm putting in the gary groundwork with this netball slag".'

On Wednesday nights: 'See off a whole jug of vodka Red Bull, get accustomed to the bouncers' hospitality, and do your utmost to pull a sloppy bird'.

On a committee member: 'He is the fresher who manags [sic] to embody everything the club holds dear: debauchy [sic], hedonism and misogyny'.

On the Three Tuns pub: 'The beer is cheap and the barmaids are often quite tasty. Get to know them in order to ensure rapid service'.

On the Zoo Bar in Leicester Square: 'Nowhere in the world can so many mingers look so appealing. The jury is still out, however, regarding whether this phenomenon is caused by a strange trick of the light or the beer drank post-match.'

On 'hockey, netball and rugby birds': 'Beast-like women who play sport so they can come out with us on Wednesdays and don't let them tell you otherwise'.

On King's College London: 'Strand Polytechnic... Quite simply put they are scum and they will all work for us one day'.


[SOURCE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2781919/Top-London-university-caught-new-sexism-row-freshers-week-leaflets-branded-women-slags-trollops-crumpets.html.]


A few sensitive souls unfortunately took offense at the reading material, and the LSE Rugby Club has been suspended for a year.

QUOTE: "The rugby club has since apologised for the leaflet, which also branded female rugby players as "beast-like" and said that "homosexual debauchery" would not be tolerated at social events."


[SOURCE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11147689/LSE-rugby-club-banned-after-describing-women-as-mingers-and-trollops.html.]


All of this is rather a pity, as Rugby is the thinking man's alternative to American Football. For one thing, it is FAR more butchly homo-erotic, for another the concept of a glowing young rugby player insensate on too much vodka and completely limp in consequence is delicious.

Mmm, hot sweaty man-flesh!

So ripe for debauching!

As a concept, it sounds intellectually thrilling, so I can understand the temptation, though if I were a woman, I should almost certainly abstain. While encouraging bestial British lassies to go right ahead.


Not quite my style, but then if I were a youngish female person, most likely I would resemble your maidenly aunt. Somewhat short and shy, and though quite filthy-minded not very social. With glasses, and restrained habits. Always the perfect lady in my Lula Lu.

I would want the thrill of reading about it afterwards.

Rather than having any personal involvement.

Sometimes text is better than life.

Especially beastly stuff.


In any case, I am delighted that British students are well-informed about debauchery. I had always considered them to be rather bland little creatures, all pink and innocent, and dreadfully inexperienced.
Tea, crumpets, and smoking a pipe by the fire.

Bravo, English scholarly types, bravo.

The brave depraved.



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Friday, December 19, 2014

AUSTRALIAN POETRY PROFESSOR BARRY SPURR WRITES CODED LOVE NOTES

Much the same way that some American academics refer to Jews as 'filthy kikes' or 'zionist crypto-masons', and African Americans as 'jive-ass jiggaboos', the Australians have their own bad boy intellectuals.
Consider, for instance, Professor Barry Spurr, formerly instructor of versifying at the University of Sydney, who used such eloquent and meaningful terms as 'abo', 'abo lover', 'mussie', and 'chinky-poo'.

Nelson Mandela was identified as a 'darky'.

[SOURCE: Sydney academic Barry Spurr resigns over racist emails.]


"HUMAN RUBBISH TIP"


Picture courtesy of the BBC.


From all accounts, prof. Barry Spurr is a sterling fellow, and very white.

Just not a man of temperate and considered vocabulary.

But not at all a stuck-up sticky bit!

Or a poofter.



Blimey, it's hot in here, Bruce.

Who is minding the sheep dip?




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GENTLY CANTED STARBURST

When I mentioned the pipe to Brian, his eyes lit up. "Ah, the two sisters". Apparently he had known them in the seventies and eighties, when he and they had been the only ones with 'La Paulina'. A brand which I have never smoked, but which rings a bell. Not a firm and solid bell, more of a half-remembered bell.


There's a lot in the industry which does that.
Nicotine is good for the memory.
A lot of bells get rung.


Pauline had gone to New York, and came back with a perfectly grained Wilke bulldog natural. It turned out to be one of her best pipes.

That was in the early eighties, when the two sisters still ran the place.

Wilke in New York is no more.

Gone by the nineties.

A memory.



The pipe that changed hands today was a lovely little Dublin, smooth natural saddle.


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Thursday, December 18, 2014

MAINLAND CHINESE TOURISTS

Years ago a friend stated categorically that Mandarin was the most civilized Chinese language, especially compared to Cantonese, which she likened to barbaric yawping. Mandarin was refined, civilized, modulated, why, Mandarin was the be-all and end-all of Chinese!

And why didn't that bunch of southern degenerates just submit!

Hah, short stupid stubborn Cantonese!


Okay.

From a distance of thirty years, allow me to rebut that.

Mandarin is what you screech at rabid dogs. It's a country bumpkin dialect, spoken primarily by inbred savages, who have no regard for manners, and often no shred of decency.

No wonder Hong Kong people despise mainlanders.

It's 100% justified.


HORRID PEASANTS FLYING HIGH


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpKvNr9c2kk.]

Doesn't that sound awful? That's Mandarin, not Cantonese. Mandarin. The national language of China, as spoken by several hundred million people who lacked the wit to learn Cantonese.

大爆粗口鬼

Please pay especial attention to the coarse brute venting in the aisle during most of this video. Apparently he was displeased that he and his wife (or girlfriend, or mistress) had not been seated together. Subsequent to his demand for recitification of the problem, either he or a friend threatened to bomb the plane, and some woman -- his wife, his girlfriend, or his mistress -- threw scalding insta-noodle soup in the face of a Thai airline hostess. Because the two couples responsible for this disruption were adamently unwilling to apologize, the plane returned to Bangkok, where the four passengers were arrested and fined.
They subsequently did get back to China.
Where they should stay forever.
They're nasty people.

Upon landing in Nanjing, the four of them caused another scene.


The average mud-spattered Toishanese farmer has more manners and finesse than that bunch. And Mandarin, even when the speaker is in a good mood, sounds like a heathen pig-buttock language. Good lord, how on earth do they keep from slaughtering one another?


毫無疑問,普通話是不文明的。


For a more "upbeat" view of mainlanders, see the video below. Yes, the captions are a fair rendition of the conversation.
Please note: normal behaviour.


中國大陸遊客


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bndjT7dPH-0.]




惡劣的天氣

Oh what the heck, one more. This video shows what happens when Mandarin-speakers wish to complain about a delay due to weather.
They're all being as reasonable and polite as they are able.
Doesn't their language sound dulcet?
Sure it does.


真愛的大陸人...


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-n4CCZ1vf8.]


The fasten your seatbelt sign should be lit at all times with this lot.



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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

PARADISE IN THE MIDDLE OF MONGKOK

They're famous for their hot po lo bau with a pat of butter. As well as milk-tea, and yuen yeung. It's in Kowloon, equidistant between the Prince Edward Station and Mongkok East, just a short walk from either. You know where Lai Chi Kok splits off from Nathan Road? Go east, cross Sai Yeung Choi Street, and in the middle on the left hand side.
Be prepared for a madhouse.
It's very popular.



金華冰廳 KAM WAH BAKERY CAFE
香港, 太子弼街47號地下

47 Bute Street, ground floor,
Prince Edward (Mongkok), Kowloon, Hong Kong.


Bute Street (弼街 'bat kai') is named after the southern Scottish peerage of the same name, which is principally located on Bute Island in the Firth of Clyde. As with many Hong Kong street names, there is no rational connection with the appellation and the area. Nor with the transcription into Chinese; 弼 means to assist or aide.

真係超好味!
TRULY SUPER TASTY

The list of items which you really must have is, of course, topped with the toasted po lo bau (菠蘿油: 加一塊凍牛油 'po lo yau: gaa yat faai tung ngau yau'), but not far behind are the little chicken pies (雞批 'gai pai') and the egg arts (酥皮蛋撻 'sou pei daan taat'). You can also have a quick lunch there. Try the saté sauce beef (沙嗲牛肉 'sa de ngau yiuk'), which can be served on regular noodles, macaroni, or rice stick (可配公仔麵, 通粉或米粉 'ho pui gong jai min, tong fan, waak mai fan').

The meat shred and pickled brassica (雪菜肉絲 'suet choi yiuk si') is best with boiled rice noodle (米 'mai').

Their po lo bau is unusual, in that the object represents an earlier stage of development, not changed in over forty years. A thin friable layer of sugary sweet dough above the standard puffy body, firmly melded on and in. Packed with a thick and generous wedge of chilled creamery butter to melt after toasting, it can also be had with a slice of luncheon meat added, or even the saté sauce beef.

In general, a toasted po lo bau with butter and meat or jam is rightly considered one of Hong Kong's most dangerous snacks, a calorie and cholesterol overload.
Well worth eating, with milk tea to drink. Yummy.

Naturally, if it's a warm day, you should have your milk-tea with ice (凍奶茶 'tung nai chaa').



EXPLICATA

Hot po lo bau with a pat of butter: The short form is 'po lo yau' (菠蘿油), meaning 'pineapple oil'. Butter is called 'cow grease' (牛油 'ngau yau'). Pineapple bun: 'po lo bau' (菠蘿包); a sweet bun with a top layer of cookie dough which expands at a different rate than the rest, yielding a crackle-crusted confection which presents a pleasant textural dissonance. Milk-tea: 'naai chaa' (奶茶), the national drink of Hong Kong, whether scalding hot or poured over ice; strong tea strained through a cloth filter, which gives it a velvety mouthfeel, accentuated with sweetened condensed milk (煉奶 'lin naai'). It was invented at so-called 'tea restaurants' (茶餐廳 'cha chanteng'), which are places where the food is fast, the furniture is rickety, and the ambiance twixt home-town hang-out and fondly remembered cheap date. Yuen yeung: Mandarin ducks (鴛鴦), also the term for a mixture of bitter coffee and sweet milk-tea, which is popular hot or cold.

Both beverages can also be served with the glass standing in an ice bath: 冰鎮奶茶 or 冰鎮鴛鴦 ('bing jan naai chaa', 'bing jan yuen yeung'), which cools the drink down without diluting it.
This is not common everywhere.

We shall not speak of Boba Tea (波霸奶茶 'bo baa naai chaa') or Pearl Tea (珍珠奶茶 'jan jyu naai chaa'); these are very silly things.

Mongkok: Prosperous Corner (旺角 'wong gok'), formerly 望角 ('mong gok'; gazy corner, ferns corner) a once-swampy area now densely built-up, filled with residents, businesses, and shops. Prince Edward Station: Tai ji jaam (太子站), the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station nearest Nathan Road (彌敦道 'nei duen dou').
MTR: Gong Tit (港鐵 "harbour iron"), abbreviation of 香港鐵路 ('heung gong tit lou' "fragrant harbour iron road", Hong Kong Railway). Mongkok East: MTR Station by the Diocesan Boys School (拔萃男書院 'bat seui naam syu yuen'), and the Grand Century Place mall (新世紀廣場 'san sai gei gwong cheung'; MOKO) if you're interested in fabulous shopping, just south of Prince Edward Road (太子道 'taai ji dou') and Flower Market Street (花墟道 'faa heui dou'). For Kam Wah Bing Teng (金華冰廳) head south along Nathan Road if you got off at Prince Edward, go west if you took the Mongkok East Station.

Lai Chi Kok Road: 荔枝角道, a diagonal street named after a village, Lychee Corner (荔枝角村) in Sam Shui Po District (深水埗區). Sai Yeung Choi Street: 西洋菜街 literally, 'Western Ocean Vegetable Street', which refers to watercress (西洋菜 'sai yeung choi') once grown in this area as a commercial crop.

Bute: 比特島 ('bei tak dou'), also 弼島 ('bat dou'); a semi-barren island in Western Europe (西歐 'sai au') with a population of six and a half thousand souls, and a climate which is not salubrious.
Firth of Clyde: 克萊德灣 ('hak loi tak waan') the vast inlet on the south-west corner of Scotland (蘇格蘭 'sou gaak laan'), which is an area of historical significance; the Scots (一個凱爾特的支派) landed here when they invaded from Ireland.

Pickled brassica: snow vegetable (雪菜 'suet choi'), also called plum vegetable (梅菜 'mui choi') is a salt-packed wet winter mustard cabbage frequently paired with fatty pork and used in soups for flavour and colour. The dried version is 梅干菜 ('mui gon choi'). Rice noodle: pasta made from rice flour. Distinguish 米粉 ('mai fan'), which are regular rice noodles; 沙河粉 ('saa ho fan'), also simply called 河粉 ('ho fan'), which are broader and softer; and 米線 ('mai sin'), a Yunnanese specialty that require as much cooking time as Italian Pasta (意粉 'yi fan'). Jam: gwo jeung (果醬); fruit compote.


For an explanation of the tea restaurant paradigm, see: Cha Chanteng. There's a sample menu in that post which might fascinate you.



What, you may ask, brought all this to the front? Well, ask yourself, where would you rather be? Someplace reasonably warm, about to enfold a cold beverage (iced milk-tea: 凍奶茶), or in a frigid and soggy part of Northern California?

At this time of year I am not fond of rain. My feet feel chilled. Hong Kong sounds like a very lovely place to be right now, unlike the islands in the Clyde, such as Bute (弼島), which are part of North-Western Europe.
And Scottish food, let me remind you, is not pretty.



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PESHAWAR ARMY PUBLIC SCHOOL

No, I shall not seize upon this massacre to damn any group or tribe, nor opinionate about causes, religions, or perceived depravities.

What happened in Northwest Pakistan yesterday staggers the imagination.


One student saw all of his friends die. Another lost his mom.


One hundred and thirty two students.


Nine teachers.




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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WHITESPLAINING

One of the tropes that seems to erupt like a recurring pimple or festering sore every time discussions about discrimination occupy the discourse, is the "I don't see colour" statement. This is offered by sincere people convinced that their personal lack of bias, as they conceive it to be, not only encapsulates a perfect approach, even a solution, but also contributes significantly to understanding.

"I don't see colour, I only see 'people'."

Which, of course, is a complete load.

The phrase "I don't see colour" is about as ridiculous as a man saying "I don't see boobies". You know he does. Whether he likes them small or large, protuberant or somewhat shelf-like, or even considers them unimportant in the grand scheme of things, they were probably the first two details his subconscious eye registered. And whether he realizes it or not (more often not), they will influence his interaction with the person bearing said boobies ever forth.

Now, you might say, that's ridiculous! Not ALL men treat women as sex objects!

True. Did I say they did? Did I even hint at that?

What I said was that he noticed her breasts. Or lack thereof. Which, coupled with other factors, told him various things that helped him deal with her. Such as that she was probably a hottie when she was fifty years younger, he wishes he had known her then, because with that personality and those general dimensions....... I wonder if her grandkids appreciate what a dynamite gal G'amma is, lord I hope she doesn't vote Republican.....
The point being that her face, her conversation, AND her physical attributes, all contribute to a total impression, which will inevitably become more nuanced as the acquaintanceship progresses, but will always be a combo picture.
Only later do we notice the delicate hands and the fact that she has novel ideas about nuclear fusion.


"I don't see colour or gender, I only perceive threatening amorphous blobs with fuzzy outlines, unless they are less then five feet away, in which case I start screaming, and trying to hit them with my umbrella, especially if they are on public transit, because I need my own karma-realm, bitches."


"Don't make me assume my ultimate form!"


If you don't see colour (or gender), both your social life and your love life must be very interesting.
And a complete mess.
On the other hand, you could just be spewing politically correct bull-pucky.

You probably don't see police uniforms either.

Please reflect on how lucky you are.

Mmm, lovely boobies.



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Monday, December 15, 2014

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF GOUT MONSTER

We shall celebrate my apartment mate's birthday. Got a card. Got cake. Got prezzies. Got sweets. Plus roast duck, gailan, and other veggies.

And a big lobster.

She likes lobster.


She had mentioned lobster, specifying a small one, no more than one to one and a half pounds.

This bugger is four pounds. Even if you remove the shell and inedible bits, that's still around two pounds of dense succulent meat. Some of which she will have for lunch tomorrow at work.

A little of which I will eat.

I already mentioned gout, one or two posts earlier.

Getting soggy in the rain makes gout disappear. You won't even notice it once you're soaked. In consequence of which I'm good to go.
Oojah cum spiff. Right as rain.


The poor beast objected to the boiling water. Fortunately it was swift.
I bet he or she would be overjoyed to know that lobster causes gout.
No, gout is NOT inevitable carnivore karma. That's a stupid idea that spiritual people in Berkeley have.
Which is why instead of lobster, they eat wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass ALSO causes gout. And agita.
Just so you know.


Lobster doesn't come any smaller than four pounds.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.




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AND THEN THE RAIN CAME

It was the end-of-year party. K-Chai was heading back to his ancestral turf, to spend three weeks getting his Indo-trash yayas out and painting the town saffron. So of course we ate. Various noodle dishes. Shrimp, chicken dumplings, ribs, chicken off the menu nibblets, green papaya salad, pork and shrimp dumplings, more shrimp.
Did I ever mention gout?
I should have.


Managed to manfully disguise it at the cigar lounge afterward. Still, four hours of uric acid build-up. I'm twitching to the music, homes.


Twenty plus gentlemen huffing stogies and singing "Sweet Caroline" at the same moment. Top of their lungs.

I love other people's intemperate behaviour.


I need not detail the gout.


I made sure to have sufficient vegetables.
Three saucers of chili sauce.
A balanced diet.


Shrimp.



I am insensate with throbbing.



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Sunday, December 14, 2014

ARE YOU ALLERGIC? THEN GO AWAY!

You may have noticed an intolerance toward food-pretentious folks on this site at times, and I will gladly admit that after working in the restaurant business years ago I have no patience whatsoever with people who claim allergies and sensitivities which they do not actually have.
Never-the-less, I know that some individuals are indeed allergic. Fortunately I do not eat with them -- hardly know any -- so I never need worry about whatever is in my food or on my plate.

The only things to which I do not react well are bananas, opiates, penicillin and all of its relatives, and vasoconstrictors in anesthetics.
Most of which are not part of my diet.
All of which. Not.

The banana was the fruit which the serpent gave to Eve.
She probably ended up itchy all over.
Scratched furiously.

No wonder she needed to cover up her nakedness.
Red welts on several private parts.
A bit embarrassing.

She should have cooked the damned thing.
It's far more tolerable then.


Anyhow, it looks like the Europeans are going all neurotic Californian batshit on the food allergy thing.

Per a recent BBC article:

Restaurants and takeaways across Europe will be required by law to tell customers if their food contains ingredients known to trigger allergies.
------
Under the new legislation (EU FIC Food Information for Consumers Regulation), customers must be told if their food contains any of the following:

Celery - including any found in stock cubes and soup.
Cereals containing gluten - including spelt, wheat, rye, barley.
Crustaceans - eg crabs, lobster, prawns and shrimp paste.
Eggs - including food glazed with egg.
Fish.
Lupin - can be found in some types of bread, pastries, pasta.
Milk.
Molluscs - mussels, land snails, squid, also found in oyster sauce.
Mustard.
Nuts - for example almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia.
Peanuts - also found in groundnut oil.
Sesame seeds - found in some bread, houmous, tahini.
Soya - found in beancurd, edamame beans, tofu.
Sulphur dioxide - used as a preservative in dried fruit, meat products, soft drinks, vegetables, alcohol.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30395142.


I've ingested most of these things within the last week. As far as I'm concerned the list simply highlights how unforgivably ignorant most people are of food. Chinese, South-East Asian, and Indian cuisine should be off-limits to anyone who doesn't have a clue.

If you don't educate yourself, don't eat.

At some point, someone will be incredibly indignant that he or she wasn't informed of certain ingredients in his or her own language while travelling in a part of Europe where another vernacular is common, or when eating at a restaurant staffed by people who do not speak whatever the local lingua franca might be as fluently and idiomatically as the natives.

After their imagined medical crisis, they will take matters to court.
And put sincere hard-working people out of business.


Perhaps the only way many eateries can protect themselves is by inventing dishes that contain most of these ingredients -- all, if possible -- and posting a large sign in nearly a hundred languages saying "you cannot eat here, we will kill you".



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EMPOWERING PHRASES

If anyone needed proof that people are going loopy in the Bay Area because of the rioting jugend in Berkeley and Oakland, as well as the weather ("stormageddon") and the need to spend money on expensive electronics for all the relatives they truly hate, just look at the phrases used in recent days in this blogger's immediate vicinity:

"Onion body wash; why are you looking at me funny?"

"There's shit in my ear."

"I can SO deal with 'toasty' right now, especially if it keeps my pants from falling down."

"Everybody needs pudding."

"I've been stepping in poodles."

"An 'A' shirt is NOT called a 'bitch slapper'; I don't know what you've been thinking."

"That's MY banana!"

"There definitely crap falling from the sky."

"Santa was probably a spoiled brat, and likely still is."

"You need a box for your cigars; sandwich bags are so déclassé."


Not entirely sure whether any of this qualifies as "reality challenging".
Maybe there's an element of cognitive dissonance.
I'm all about cognitive dissonance.



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Saturday, December 13, 2014

YES, SANTA, WE HAVE A VIRGINIA HERE...

A friend went back east, to be with 'one' with the snow, ice, and freezing cold weather. He's moving / has moved into an old Victorian, and is now contemplating the howling savages of Boston. At least I think it's Boston. Someplace where tattooed natives chant hymns and commit mayhem.

As you can tell, I have never visited the rest of the country.

He inquires how life is in civilization.

Which is California.


This is what I wrote back:

"Life continues to be engaging and entertaining, so I still haven't called the mothership to return to my home galaxy. The rain was NOT of biblical proportions, as was promised; I am very disappointed, and might actually write an angry letter to an editor. It's just rain. Although there is rather a lot of it at present. No snow or ice. 
Almost shirtsleeve weather."

[CUT]

"Aside from which, they cater primarily to cigar fiends, with the pipe smokers being little more than colourful eccentrics that waft in and out occasionally, or glowering old crocks who reek of vanilla mango raspberry truffle.

I'm still in a Virginia daze."

[END CITE]


Exciting new tobaccos which I have NO intention of ever tring out: peach orchard, vanilla-caramel crème brûlée, French bramble-berry liqueur, coffee toffee, and tropical fruit surprise.

I do not understand why aromatic nightmares are still ninety percent of the business. The only possible explanation is that most pipe-smokers are pretendeurs with no taste whatsoever and relatives who just love the whorehouse reek of old Harry's horrid pipe.

Both pipe and tobacco should be clean; not rancid and fruity.

If you cannot appreciate unflavoured tobacco, there may be something wrong with you. Perhaps it's glandular (seek medical help), perhaps genetic (please don't breed). In any case, take a deep breath, put the soggy sh*t down, and go sniff a pile of rotting fruit out back before the pigs get them.
Wash your underarms; they're keeping you from smelling well.
Something is interfering with your nose.
We think you're possessed.

Please don't revel in your nastiness.


Open sample tins left too long smell like spoiled butter. At least from that particular manufacturer. Either they have cows in the factory, or it's a chemical breakdown. Plus a faint whiff of soggy newspaper.

Aromatics pipe tobaccos are strictly for degenerates.


RECENT TOBACCOS

Some things that I've opened up, now that the rain is here.

Mac Baren's Modern Virginia Loose Cut
Flue-cured, with a small amount of Burley, and a fruity topping. Mostly ribbon.

This is innocuous and mild, an unchallenging smoke. Can't really identify the perfume, but I've been told that it's apricot and pineapple -- so it should remind one of Erinmore -- but instead I think it's a milder hint of Grousemoor or Sherlock Holmes. Easier to smoke than either.
Unprepossessing.

Erinmore Flake
Pressed flue-cured tobacco with a pineapple topping and whisps of licorice. Or something like that; no one is willing to divulge the secret. This is from a twelve-year old tin that I opened a few days ago to see if it was still as fairytale-like as I remembered -- there's a peppery old fart who buys five tins a month -- and whether the Virginias had softened much over time.
They have. Nice, albeit a touch depraved.

Borkum Riff Special Mixture No. 8
Mild air-cured leaf with steampressed flue-cureds, and a noticeable inclusion of substances which are in the vanilla, caramel, nougat, heather honey, and hazelnut category. It's quite pleasant. Available at only a few fine liquor stores, not all of them in nice parts of town.
I'm on my third pouch in two years.


SCHEDULED SOON

Robert McConnell - Glen Piper
Mellow Aromatic Pipe Tobacco
Mature Virginia, sweet Cavendish, Brown Honeydew, Perique.
Ready rubbed out plug. Rich taste, mellow aroma.
With natural fruit flavours.

The tin is several years old. It has been described as mostly Virginias, with a dominant note of prunes and a lingering aftertaste that no one really likes. Although several people of impeccable habits also note that it deserves rather more praise than it often gets. Random descriptives: fermented fruit, herbal, swinish, flowery, steamed pudding, rum and chocolate, swishy, not overwhelming.

It may keep the fleas away.

I imagine that it is somewhat reminiscent of Germain's Plumcake, of which there are several enamelled tins stashed in the Dutch literature section.

I look forward to trying some.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Friday, December 12, 2014

BECAUSE OF BEN EDELMAN'S PRESUMED CONSTIPATION.....

Ben Edelman ordered food from a restaurant that had a website. The website had not been recently updated to reflect current prices. Ben Edelman paid four dollars more for his order than he thought he should. He contacted the restaurant, and demanded triple damages, to be credited to his credit card pronto, thank you very much.

Twelve dollars!


Triple damages?

It turns out that that is what the State of Massachusetts stipulates for advertising the wrong price.

What is remarkable is that Ben Edelman switched to asshole mode in record time.

Ben Edelman is an associate professor of bidniz at Harvard.

Whose website may be inadvertently wrong.

It's a mighty fine institution.



Which, this blogger does not doubt, is filled with people like Ben Edelman. Especially the bidniz faculty. The right stuff.
Sterling of character and stiff of upper lip.
Mighty fine people.


四川飯莊 II

The full exchange of e-mails between Ben Edelman (professor of bidniz) and Ran Duan (representative of Szichuan Garden Restaurant), is reproduced in full here: http://www.boston.com/food-dining/restaurants/2014/12/09/harvard-business-school-professor-goes-war-over-worth-chinese-food/KfMaEhab6uUY1COCnTbrXP/story.html.
["Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food"]

As well as here: http://blog.angryasianman.com/2014/12/this-harvard-business-school-professor.html.
["THIS HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR WAS OVERCHARGED $4 FOR CHINESE TAKEOUT. NOW HE'S GOING TO MAKE THEM PAAAAAAY!"]


Ben Edelman is a whiz at e-mail: http://www.boston.com/food-dining/restaurants/2014/12/10/there-more-edelman-did-this-before-and-worse/00mTW39jcyXb3VNHZoXEYN/story.html?p1=trending_article_page_2.
["There’s More: Edelman Did This Before, And Worse"]


Ben Edelman is sorry.


Well la dee da.



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Thursday, December 11, 2014

JACKKNIFE READY RUBBED -- GUESTPOST BY A HEDGEHOG

Sometimes I have to admit that my own tobacco blathering is not the be all and end all of tobacco blathering. There are other blatherskytes who blather better than I blather. Blast it. Damned geniuses.
By which I mean that they are more inspired.
Perhaps a lot crazier too.
Lyrical.


AN INCITEMENT TO EXTREME MANLINESS
Review of G. L. Pease's JackKnife Ready Rubbed
By a Hedgehog.

[Read the entire essay here: tobaccoreviews.com -- review74831. ]

Suddenly all I want to do is chug a couple of handles of Wild Turkey, squeeze off some rounds, club some seal babies, harpoon something endangered, bomb Hanoi, crank up the George Thorogood, copter-hunt some mastadons, scarf a T-bone, litter, bench-press my HumVee, call in some air-strikes and generally get some. That's what a kiloton of Kentucky Dark Fired can do for a guy.

Esthetes and other un-American elements have suggested that there there's some bright-leaf in here, and maybe some sweet Virginias. If there are, I don't want to know about it. I like my tobacco as subtle as a thermobaric charge; this hits the spot and leaves a smoking hole.

Pipe Used: Generally I smoke this with my bare hands.

Age When Smoked: Jail bait.


[End cite.]


Well now. Is it the tobacco, or the smoker?

Truth is that Greg Pease's JackKnife is a darn fine product.

If seal babies smoked this, they'd grow up strong enough to beat the crap out of Canadian seal hunters. Hedgehogs too.
Normally hedgehogs are hard to handle.

Fumigate their nest with JackKnife smoke and they'll be gentle enough that you can harvest their honey easily. Or is that Kodiak bears I'm thinking of?

I likewise smoke JackKnife with my bare hands. From my beard to my pelvis is a dense mass of barbed wire. Don't hug me, I bite.

I do not like to be wipped.



APPENDIX

For reference purposes, my own review here: JackKnife Plug.
JackKnife's predecessor: Triple Play.
Other Pease's: Capsule Reviews.

And, because I can: Pipesmoking Jailbait.

Yes, this is an opportunistic attempt to ride on some other writer's coat tails, rather than composing anything original. But I credited the source, and provided links, so it's "win-win" as far as I'm concerned.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

THOSE PEOPLE

Watching Marlene Dietrich chewing up the scenery in a movie about Catherine the Great makes clear that the world was a very different place eighty years ago.  And that Josef von Sternberg truly hated the Russians.

Which is understandable. The problem was that he hated damned well everyone else too.

Earlier, Sternberg had made Shanghai Express, which was a fictionalization of the Lincheng Incident.


Lincheng Incident: On May 5, 1923, over a thousand bandits from Shandong hijacked a train and took all passengers hostage, including nearly three dozen white folks. Their demands were the withdrawal of troops from their home province, amnesty and military employ for most of the perpetrators. After much dithering by the Chinese and Western Powers, Shanghainese gangster boss Tu Yuesheng took matters into his own hand (on behalf of friends in the French Concession Police) and paid a rather paltry ransom (and probably made some extremely credible threats against family members of the wannabe soldiers), whereupon the hostages were released, and three thousand Shandong stalwarts were absorbed into the army.

For the next few years, train hijackings in China enjoyed an upsurge.

Within months of the event, the Chinese government, in reaction to intemperate demands by the western powers that such things absolutely be prevented in future, by employing white troops if need be, had politely told the white world to kindly and with due diligence take a hike.

But please do continue to visit our famous sights.

And also enjoy the local cuisine!


Sternberg's treatment of the tale makes nearly as little sense as his berserk interpretation of Catherine the Great's life story.

Naturally the film was shot within driving distance of the studio. Southern California looks remarkably like China between Peking and Shanghai.

Representational accuracy was not an operative concept, and few people would object to inaccuracies or outright balderdash, as long as it re-enforced their own value system while telling a darn good story.
The narrative was a greater truth than the facts could ever be.


Sternberg was not unusual in his distaste for other people and other languages, that was a common cultural trait among white Americans at that time, in which they were no different than most of the world. And if "the other" was a different race or culture, then it had a prescribed position as either exotic oddity or howling savage, often parts of both.
Any attempt by the 'not-our-type' class to act like "normal people" was considered both dubious and suspect.

What's surprising is that it took so long for things to change.

It has been less than fifty years since that happened.

Any improvements may be only skin deep.

Or marked by willful blindness.



Of course, economic segregation has gotten a lot worse in the intervening half century, and the wealthiest classes will do almost anything to avoid living cheek by jowl with "those people", and prevent their offspring from having to attend school with them. Which, given that so few Americans can actually afford to go to college nowadays, is quite odd.

More Americans are the economic underclass than ever before.
We have all become "those" people.




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SOMETIMES THEY TALK ABOUT FOOD

Ming is an excellent barber. But he dwells too much on food. While waiting for my turn, I listened in on him and the man under his hands talking bout food. That customer, makes no mistake, likes Cantonese food. Why, the food in Guangzhou is delicious! But the younger generation prefers MacDonalds and Pizza. Oh, these modern times!
Followed a back-and-forth about stir-fried vegetables and fish.
All, of course, superlatively fresh! In Guangzhou.

By this time my mouth was watering.

Because my Cantonese is not quick enough for long conversations, I tend towards fairly non-communicative. So when I was under the clippers Ming ended up talking about food with two other people. His assistant had already eaten, he hadn't. No time, work called. He likes dim sum.
Who doesn't?
But he does not know very many people, and consequently seldom heads out to a tea-house.

Which begged the question how he was EVER going to meet a woman. He averred that women would probably not like him, modern girls like men who can show off their means. Not so, one of the others said, what mattered most was a true heart. But where to find? If he never went out to dim sum, nor parties, he would never meet someone.
Followed a description of steak, which was on a sizzling platter. Plus soups, homecooking, and pizza.

Why, just look at so-and-so (a gentleman outside my field of vision who was waiting his turn), HE still woos the ladies. And he might just get lucky one of these days. You have to take risks, and eat well. Some women find food way more important than material goods, and at least you'll get fed, she might even bring you lunch, seeing as you're so hardworking!

After this philosophical high, the conversation veered back into dim sum.
As I knew it would.

Did I already mention that my mouth was watering?



Care to guess what I had for lunch?



I finished the afternoon by spending an hour at a calligrapher's studio, listening in while he gave a lesson to an older Taiwanese woman, who uses too much pressure on the curves rather than letting the stroke guide the brush. Which is why the swooping overhand toward the right and down shows fibres but scant ink.
Additionally, like many people, she does the vertical trunk before the horizontal component through which it cuts. A logical mistake. First stroke, at top, horizontal. One could assume that the vertical which is attached should next be written, but one should instead make the box-like part immediately underneath the topmost vertical. Only then proceed to the vertical. Again, lightly, do not press. It is not heavy.

He couldn't find a seal-script version of 卷 in the dictionary he was consulting at the time. So I pulled a copy of the 印雕辭典 which I saw in his book shelf out. Yes, the character was in that one. Alas, only one example in 篆書。 One likes to have more for comparison. But all three of us failed to find it in the first dictionary.
As a phonetic element is also occurs in 捲、箞、棬、and 錈。
Which gave us plenty of fine variations.



As you can see, one can play around with curves and line-tension inside the confines of the space. It's an attractive vibrant character.
Just not represented in all seal-script dictionaries.


Both the stick-inks used in brush calligraphy and the vermilion paste for seal impressions have their own smell, an evocative aroma. What better way to occupy a gloomy afternoon than drinking in their fragrance?



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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

AMERICAN TORTURE, THE POLICE, AND CORRUPTION

The reason why democracy is the best system of government is NOT that fewer or no wrongs will be committed than in other systems, but that it bears within itself the tools to correct those errors, rather than perpetuate them.

Judging by the squawks of outrage from the other side in Washington, this lesson does not appear to have penetrated many "conservative" minds.

Consequently it behooves us to fear them.



We shine a light on our flaws. The Far Right wishes that we wouldn't. And much of the rest of the world insists that unlike us, they don't have any flaws that need exposure.

It is probably our greatest strength.



There is much that can be improved.
Unlike in the rest of the world.
Which is utterly perfect.
As they tell us.
Always.






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Monday, December 08, 2014

BERKELEY FINDS ITS MISSING MANHOOD -- BY LOOTING RADIO SHACK AND WHOLE FOODS

Last night and the night before, frat boys, earthmoms and moonpapas, trustafarians, and the black block, showed Berkeley who da boss. By setting streetfires, breaking windows, and stealing from stores that in their righteous rage against the man, they trashed. They would have also looted pizza places, but employees stood outside guarding the premises. Because, after all, one does not wish the place that helps one pay for community college destroyed by people who can afford to go to Berkeley.


The twitter feeds were eloquent, and fascinating.


"Protesters at Telegraph and Alcratraz, about four blocks from my apartment. Just heard a boom. Here we go."

"Oh holy shit please don’t set the gas station on fire."

"Go home white kids you're drunk, And stupid."

"Who knows better about the struggles of minorities than a bunch of college kids at Berkeley?"

"Seems like it is predominantly white males instigating looting, as WholeFoods & McDonalds vandalised."

"My Whole Foods has been looted of Christmas trees!! Also hope my car windows are not smashed."

"Please Berkeley not the Whole Foods... Anything else."

"Just discovered that the phrase "Black Lives Matter" has nothing to do with disadvantaged goth kids."

"Can white occupy hipsters please fuck off and let the black voices be heard?"

"White kid in a black hoodie just ran down Alcatraz Ave. kicking cars. What a shithead."

"Wish I could be there with you guys but its hard to stay up late and trash the community when you've got work the next day."

"A dozen protestors broke into whole foods and stole cider and Christmas trees."

"Must sleep. Love to you ALL. Take care of each other, and smash the police."

"Black lives matter, until Trader Joe's is out of basil cilantro hummus."

"Too many vegans looting gallons of whole milk."

"Oh goodie, the helicopters are back!"


Twitterers with something worthwhile to say: Jillsmo, Nothgiel Semaj, Matt Takimoto, Eldritch Buddy, Jimni 27, Adam Edgmond, Independent Texan, Keaghan Townsend, Jinxy Stubblefield, Leila Mansouri, Grumpy Hat, Joey Garibaldi, Adriana Alcorta, A Happy Place, and above all, Jamaal Shapiro for injecting a note of savagely witty realism into what was, essentially, an opera of the absurd and misguided singing for an audience of limp and sweaty middle-class self-orgasmers.



Please note that exemplary police restraint, a sparing use of teargas, and the paucity of arrests, are a greater testament to "white privilege" than almost anything else could possibly be.

It also demonstrates that despite progressive pretensions and fervor, Berkeley is hopelessly, drearily, and resolutely, bourgeois.


Please also note use of the Oxford comma.



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LITTLE SISTER'S GRUEL -- 妹記粥

One my favourite dishes is simple, basic, and cheap (皮蛋瘦肉粥 'pei daan sau yiuk juk'). Scrawny pork and preserved egg in rice porridge. No, I cannot remember when I first tried it; many years ago. But in any case it was shortly after I had learned to read the words. 皮 'pei': skin, surface. 蛋 'daan': egg. 瘦 'sau': thin, lean. 肉 'yiuk': meat, flesh. 粥 'juk': rice gruel, thin paste. You don't have to know how to read in order to enjoy food, but if you're white, it helps.

Some things require more than passing ability with a dictionary. Fish loin and meatball congee: 魚腩肉丸粥 ('yü naam yiuk-yuen juk'). This is fatty underbelly of carp, which is sweet and rich, with meatballs made of not particularly diet-friendly pork; both equally added to your bowl of rice porridge. It is "mun yü dik tim mei" (滿魚的甜味); "filled with the sweet deliciousness of fish". Shredded lettuce (生菜絲 'saang choi si') on top brings out the fresh taste.

If you are an aficionado, also order some crunchy raw fish skin (爽魚皮 'song yü pei'). Many people do. Dressed, with ginger and scallion added, to dip in soy and chili.



Congee heaven is on Flower Garden Street (花园街 'fa yuen gaai'), in Mongkok (旺角), near Argyle Street (亞皆老街 'ngaa gaai lou gaai').



妹記生滾粥品
旺角花園街市政大廈4樓熟食中心11-12舖
['mui kei saang-gwan juk pan; wong-gok fa-yuen gaai si jing-daai haa, sei lau, suksik jungsam, sap-yat sap-yi pou']

MUI KEE CONGEE
["Younger Sister's Freshly Boiled Congee Products"]
Shop no. 11-12, Fa Yuen Street Market, Municipal Services Building, Fourth Floor, Cooked Foods Centre
Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Hours of operation: Seven in the morning till three P.M.


It used to be a street food stall (大牌檔 'daai paai dong'), but like very many such it has moved indoors. The third generation of the original family now runs the place.

The term 'mui' (妹) means a younger sister, and is a flexible relational term -- meaning that I would address a young non-adult as such, but not someone reasonably close to my own age, unless there were kinship or romantic ties binding us -- and in this case posits the founder within a family or social hierarchy.

No, I do not know the backstory.

好靚好食嘅 HOU LENG HOU SIK GE!
["very beautiful and delicious!"]

Items to consider, because they are wonderful:

Carp belly and meatballs congee (魚腩肉丸粥 'yü naam yiuk yuen juk'), pork liver and carp belly congee (豬潤魚腩粥 'chü yun yü naam juk'; 魚腩豬肝粥 'yü naam chü gon juk'), and plain carp belly congee (鯇魚片粥 'waan yü pin juk'). But there are many other variations, and there is no need to restrain yourself to just these three. What you must definitely also have is "oil fried lumps" (油炸塊 'yau jaa faai'), which is a strip of deep-fried puff bread (油條 'yau tiu') cut into manageable chunks. Dump these on top one by one, to sop up some of the congee. Not all at once, as you don't want them sodden.
They are customary with rice porridge, and yummy.

If there are two of you, you should also share preserved egg with shredded ginger (生薑皮蛋 'saang geung pei daan') on the side.



熟食中心 SUK-SIK JUNG-SAM 

The Cooked Foods Centre is open from six in the morning till 2 A.M.
It's a little hard to find if you're new to the area, but worth it.



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Sunday, December 07, 2014

SOME OF US ARE MISSING IN ACTION

The person who scribbles this blog is NOT the most social of persons. That is almost a given, because truly gregarious souls are often too extrovert and garrulous to actually write anything. The converse however is not necessarily that people who write are introverts worth reading.
Judging by the internet, very little that has been written is actually even bearable. This blog may be in that large category.
Thank you for getting this far.

This past Thursday wine, cheese, bread, and stout beer were consumed. In between the generation of a dense cloud of smoke. One or two head-colds, in remission, may have taken a few steps back in consequence. One of the gentlemen present asked if the door could be opened because of the smog.
Naturally I allowed the heretic to enable the entry of fresh air.
His deviance is purely temporary in nature.
He has a collection of Barbies.
It's fabulous.

dot-dot-dot

By which are meant pipes carved by Rainier Barbi, doyen of German pipe makers till his untimely exit in 2011. The man with the fab assortment of handmade pipes was at the tail-end of a sinus infection caused by Costa Rica, which has more birds and butterflies than half the rest of the world put together. It's a very infectious place, and filled with bugs.
He survived the ghastly ordeal.
Birds. Butterflies.
Bugs!

One of our oldest friends, however, was not there to enjoy his return, and we smoked his favourite tobacco to remember him. Given that some of us are into aromatics or VaPers, this was, in its own way, a form of tribute.
Fitting in any case.


Dr. George Couris passed away on November 15

From his obituary in the SF Chronicle: "Born in Greece to Demetrios and Ioanna Kouris, he immigrated to the United States in 1958. He obtained his medical degree in Greece and his surgical training in the United States and the United Kingdom. George enjoyed the art of surgery (general, vascular and thoracic) and practiced in San Francisco, New York and Sun Valley, Idaho.
George's non-surgical life was filled with his passion for ballet, classical music, and his love of skiing. His retirement involved considerable travel, his self-taught oil painting, drawing humorous cartoons and writing poetry. He remained an avid pipe smoker all his life."

[End quote.]



Dr. Couris only smoked Dunhill's London Mixture. So that evening, we all smoked London Mixture. Not all of us stuffed it into a Hungarian, however. The Hungarian, or Oom Paul, is the pipe shape that Dr. Couris favoured, because it allowed him to do his paperwork after slicing up patients and putting them back together.



Personally, I find a pipe that I cannot jam a cleaner through while it is in use somewhat problematic, and consequently I own only one example. But to match the mood I puffed a Peterson Rathbone. Which is sort of Oompaulish, but with a lazier bend.


There was NO strange behaviour, despite our natural praedilections.
We restrained ourselves. We were adults.

We also decided that the monthly meeting should move to the second Thursday of the month, because one of the key members has a surgical department meeting every first Thursday. And seeing as the number of medical dudes among the membership has fallen, we must treasure the remaining doctors; they give us plausible deniability.

I am all about plausible deniability. There are NO health repercussions from sensible tobacco use, I couldn't have done it your honour as I was nowhere near the scene of the crime, and whether or not the young lady with the intriguing cleavage ever slept with the fat pig is none of your business.

She's from back east. They do peculiar things there.
In addition to growing fine tobacco.


We are all going to miss George. He was a splendid fellow, with a wry and puckish sense of humour. In particular I remember his intelligence, thoughtfulness, and well-considered interactions with others, as well as the time he brought an illustration of a nineteenth century medical device to one of the meetings.

Imagine a wry and elfin presence at the centre of the table. A scarlet labelled tin in front of him, a pipe of a familiar shape issuing whisps of fragrance. One glass of wine. Twinkling eyes. Eventually an astutely calibrated rhetorical question upending someone else's far too deeply pursued opinionation, or an insight that somehow added breadth to what had been a narrowly-focused conversation.

"The shape is unimportant; how does it smoke?"

I wonder how long he knew about the nineteenth century medical device before he decided to share with us the queer particulars.

"First look at the picture, then guess what it is."

My stab was probably closest.
A clyster.


THE TOBACCO SMOKE ENEMA

From Wikipedia: "The tobacco smoke enema, an insufflation of tobacco smoke into the rectum by enema, was a medical treatment employed by European physicians for a range of ailments."

And further: "In the 1780s the Royal Humane Society installed resuscitation kits, including smoke enemas, at various points along the River Thames, and by the turn of the 19th century, tobacco smoke enemas had become an established practice in Western medicine, considered by Humane Societies to be as important as artificial respiration."

And a poem pf praise:

"Tobacco glyster, breath and bleed.
Keep warm and rub till you succeed.
And spare no pains for what you do;
May one day be repaid to you."

—Dr. Houlston (24 September 1774)

[End cite.]

I think you will agree that that is a completely unique way of enjoying the noble weed. Surprising that it has not had a resurgence. If marijuana is "therapeutic", then certainly the modern generation of hipsters should enjoy blowing smoke up their whatisits. Highly recommended.
And backed by centuries of medical practise.

A germane and incisive quote from somewhere else comes to mind:
"You must NOT have an illegal experience. Men here will try to sell you black market watches, and if you talk to them, they will take you to a room, and try to sell you "other" things!"

Perhaps a nozzle, a fumigator, and a bellows.
A mouthpiece which is attached to a pipe.
And a conical rectal insertion cone.

All the several members of the Golden Gate Pipe Club are strongly vested in more traditional nicotine delivery systems.

Kindly do not fall off your camel.


After the meeting adjourned -- no, we did NOT dissolve in a puff of smoke, who said that? -- a few members repaired to a den of equity in downtown San Francisco, where we were surrounded by cigar freaks talking loudly.
An illustrator joined us, chatted for a while, and then headed out.
After someone got distracted by a tweeting love god and left, I was joined by a very sober gentleman who likes La Flor Dominicana cigars, shortly followed by a severely intoxicated engineering personage partaking of a Padron 80th. Anniversary perfecto with a quadruple Bourbon no ice.

I'm not entirely sure what I was drinking. It was a singlemalt oddity distilled in California. Perhaps I am the only customer who gets it.

The problem with cigar bars is that there is never any cleavage, other than the vistas presented by large middle-aged gentlemen.

I am not a large middle-aged gentleman. I have no cleavage. Undoubtedly a little cleavage on the right person is a wonderful thing, assuming the suitable gender. But it does not suit middle-aged gentlemen.
Eventually the crowd thinned. Boruch Hashem.
The young lady from way back east was not there, the fat pig who may or may not have had something going on with her did not stay long.
The racist with the fedora left in due course.
No aromatics were smoked.


It had begun to drizzle again as the last few patrons went out into the silent San Francisco darkness.


According to my apartment mate, the smell of aromatic pipe tobacco "makes old stale pee smell good".

Curtis would agree.




TOBACCO INDEX


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