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, October 29, 2010

THE PEASANTS ARE REVOLTING!

It isn't often that I read the British Newspapers during lunch. Sometimes, however, the reward is extraordinary.

A Portuguese farmer has been arrested for killing a man who was having sex with the farmer's favourite donkey.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3202818/Man-killed-over-sex-with-donkey.html

"He recently returned to his home village and soon after locals accused him of having sex with chickens."

[Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3202818/Man-killed-over-sex-with-donkey.html#ixzz13mUZTewt ]



A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN: JAIME PIRES

The sixty-eight year-old Don Juan was known locally by the nickname "Sheep".
He was wearing frilly lingerie and slippers when he died.

I don't know about you, but I just don't think slippers are very practical when engaging in strenuous activity. Have you SEEN the condition of those paddocks? One of the hazards of cutting across pastures is the likelihood that you will step into something gooey, and slip.
You don't need slippers, you need boots with cleats!

Well, perhaps not if chickens are involved.

[One of the things that really gets my goat is the habit many people have of not wearing appropriate footgear when out and about. Young women who work in the financial district should NOT be wearing flip-flops, this isn't a beach dammit! You look like a hooker who accidentally wandered out of the Tenderloin!
And those ugly rubber hobo pedals that are so popular should NEVER be seen in the office. One should dress according to the norms of the location and activity. Cover up your tramp-stamps and wear decent shoes!]


SIGNS OF THE TIMES

I suspect that in Proenca-a-Velha, many of the people who can actually walk upright leave for the big city as soon as they are adults.
It's sad - everywhere agricultural settlements are shrinking, soon a traditional way of life will be gone.
And with it, a lot of old-world charm.


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ORTHODOX JEWS, HOMOSEXUALS, AND BULL CRAP

Dovbear's blog alerts me to a book out there with an intriguing title: "The Non-Orthodox Jew's Guide to Orthodox Jews - Why We Do What We Do, Wear What We Wear, And Think What We Think" By David Baum.

As I said, the title is intriguing.
Except, of course, that the book in question is probably as close to horse pucky as they come.

I suspect that I could probably write a better guide to orthodox Jews. Even without mentioning the mitzvah-tanzen at groisse Chassidische Chassunos, or frehlichkeit on the male-side of the mechitzah on Simchas Toireh. Tempting though both of those subjects are.

For one thing, the author seeks to portray his unclean obsession with homosexual behaviour as normative.

QUOTE: "...Many people, out of good-heartedness, will defend the right of homosexuals to live their lives according to their own decisions--but will need to hold their nose while doing so. This is because the vast, overwhelming percentage of people not living in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco finds homosexuality a deeply nauseating idea."

SOURCE:
http://nieciedo.blogspot.com/2010/10/orthodox-opinion-on-homosexuality.html

Nauseating, eh? Really?

If this were actually true, which I strongly doubt, precisely how would it be relevant?

Most people living outside of New York and Los Angeles also find Jews and their beliefs objectionable - heck, most of the third world and almost all of Europe have bought into the Marxist pro-Palestinian narrative lock-stock-and-barrel.
I have met several people who hold their noses at the very idea of Jews, and I have had typical "Jewish" characteristics ascribed to me by people who were under the impression that I was Jewish. They were convinced that they were right.

For the record, I am neither Jewish nor Homosexual.

[I am generations removed from church-attendance, deeply suspicious of priests of any type and all branches of that misguided messianic cult, and not interested in men as sexual objects (well, other than myself, that is - I am a man AND an intensely sexual object, which is not any of your business UNLESS you tickle my fancy).
Yes, my blogroll suggests that I veer toward the Judaic end of the spectrum. That isn't a matter of faith so much as a matter of common sense.]



Read more of fellow-blogger Daniel's critique of David Baum's meshune fantasy world here:
http://nieciedo.blogspot.com/2010/10/orthodox-opinion-on-homosexuality.html


Quite a number of rabbis and scholars from the Orthodox end of Jewry have in fact though much more deeply and sincerely about homosexuality among Jews than the citations from David Baum's nauseating tract suggest: http://theothersideofthelizard.blogspot.com/2010/07/statement-of-principles-on-place-of.html

Quote:
"The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect."
---[CUT]---
"Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. "
[Note in particular that the 'Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in our Community' is mirrored on several worthwhile sites and blogs, as you will see in a comment underneath
that post. It was originally found here: http://statementofprinciplesnya.blogspot.com/ ]


READ MORE - MUCH MORE
It would probably also be worth your while to head on over to Dovbear's blog
This post:
http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2010/10/problems-of-orthodox-jewry-in-one.html

If you read the comments there, you will discover that David Baum speaks only for himself.


Possibly the only generalization one can make about Orthodox Jews doing what they do, wearing what they wear, and thinking what they think is that they are non-generalizationable entirely. They have as vast a spectrum of quirks of belief, practice, ideology, conviction, and habitus as among any other group.

Oh, and a strong streak of stubborn opinionation. But you probably already knew that.


FINAL NOTE

To paraphrase Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, there are 613 mitzvos - even with one of them missing from your life the other 612 are more than enough to keep you busy.
Besides, you weren't planning on doing ALL of them, were you?

Think of yourself as ongoing work in progress. And stop thinking too much about your neighbors.
Unless, of course, he or she is hot! hot! hot! beyond all reason.


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO LOSERS

San Francisco, for all intents and purposes, has lost its collective marbles. For someone like myself, who regards sporting spectacles with about as much affection as exploding sewers (and indeed they are REMARKABLY similar), the collective creamed-in-panties mood over recent baseball-related events is insufferable and absurd.

If I were an evil man, I would pray for rain.

A few days ago, a friend e-mailed me the following:
"Thank XXXing God that I know I can read your blog without a chance in hell of seeing the words (and it pains me to write this) "Go Giants!" Your words are a safe port in a sea of gibber. Harrumph!"
Indeed.
Pajama-wearing men swinging phallic weapons for an audience of Richard ain't zackly my idea of entertainment.

For all of you out there who are wearing black or orange, you look ridiculous. There’s a reason black and orange are Halloween colours.

GHOULS!

You know, ghouls – the eaters of the flesh of the recently departed. Unclean creatures from darkest myth. Kind of like werewolves and vampyres, but without the romance. Werewolves and vampyres got style! Ghouls? Meh! Daemon-cursed mutants that compete with zombies for food. Urk!

Shouldn’t you sweaty morons be bringing crucifixes and holy water down to the park, instead of pompoms and flags?


The only time people should wear black is if they are wearing a little black cocktail dress. There is nothing quite so visually appealing as a sensual person sheathed in dark silk. Yes.

Which, by the way, is something ONLY charming young girls can get away with.
Let me repeat: CHARMING. YOUNG. GIRLS!

Pudgy middle-aged men shouldn’t even try it. Trust me. Now take that off.

And those orange sweatshirts make your beer-bellies look fat. If your wives and girlfriends had ANY sense at all (not buggery likely, seeing as they picked YOU), they’d leave you right now and go find someone nice who lost nearly five inches off his waist recently, has devilish angular features, twinkling eyes and a trimmed goatee, and is recently single again. Yes.
You know, someone who is a remarkably fine specimen of fifty-one year old man-flesh. All-in-all, a most desirable gentleman – discrete, warm, caring, absolutely hates! walks on the beach.
That type. Yes.


If any young ladies reading this are interested, please write. Snarky or zesty feedback from my audience is always appreciated.
Pen a letter to the author of this tripe here!

There will be no talk whatsoever of sports. None. Bleeeaugh!
Food, champagne, crabs - all subjects for discussion.
Silken garments, books by Nabokov or Wyndham Lewis, or bad habits that are sooooo good. Those too.
Little black cocktail dresses? We can work on that!
Please think of me as a werewolf or vampyre.
Trust me.


I may be a total perv, but I'm NOT into sports.



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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CRAB FOO YUNG

One of the pleasures of San Francisco is the crab season, which usually starts around early November and lasts through May or June. Just go down to the wharf and pick up some freshly steamed crabs to eat at home, or head into Chinatown and buy the little buggers fresh and kicking. Nothing beats a big bowl of steaming Cioppino with a hunk of crusty sourdough on the side, or you could simply whack 'em, crack 'em, and stir-fry them with ginger, scallions, garlic.......

[Cioppino, despite the Italian-sounding name, is not something they've ever tasted in Europe. It was invented right here in San Francisco by immigrant fishermen, and can only be prepared properly in the Bay Area.]


Angry crustacean, suitably dealt with, plus mayonnaise, melted butter, black-bean sauce, or chili-garlic sauce…… it's quite the best way of spending a long quiet evening that I know.

If you don't live here, you might be out of luck. Crab is not widely available away from the coast, and outside of South-East Asia not common either. It's almost unknown in Northern Europe, even in maritime countries.
In fact, the only time that most Europeans were ever exposed to crabs was when they were in the army, but since they've abolished the draft over there even that is no longer the case.

A lucky few may have visited a "Chinese Restaurant" and ordered Crab Foo Yung.
In its true version, Crab Foo Yung is actually a pretty decent dish, and a sensible way of stretching an expensive seasonal ingredient to serve a number of people.
It's also an easy choice here in San Francisco if you don't want the fuss of shells and messy fingers.


北京飯店
[Restaurant Peking]

As a youth living in North Brabant, the discovery that you could actually get good food at a Chinese restaurant was a revelation – it isn’t ALL fake-Indonesian chow cooked to the abysmal taste of the locals.
I remember some eppes lovely steamed fish with chilies and peanuts that I had at the 北京飯店 in ........ (some provincial Dutch burg of around thirty thousand inhabitants).

Some of the stuff on the regular menu was also very good. I really need to emphasize that.
The cooks were from Hong Kong, the head waiter was from Shanghai, the owners were from Zhejiang.
These are all places where real food is appreciated. Consequently that restaurant was, at that time, a shining beacon of light in a nasty cold dark culinary wasteland.

Oh, and the waitress who worked there for several months in 1972 was an absolute doll.

It was because of her that I encouraged my parents to forego cooking and get take-out more often.
Yes, a convenient suggestion. But oh so self-serving.

One of the dishes my mother liked was one she recognized from American Chinese restaurants: Crab Foo Yung.
Or, as it's called in Dutch, Foe Jong Hai.


芙蓉蟹
[Fu Yung Hai - Velvety omelette with crab meat]

1兩 (one ounce) 蟹肉 (crab meat).
2支 (two stalks) 青蔥 (scallion).
4個 (four) 蛋 (eggs).
少許 (pinch) 鹽 Salt).
2大匙 (two tablespoons) 油 (oil).

½杯 (half a cup) 高湯 (superior stock).
1大匙 (one tablespoon) 醬油 (soy sauce).
½小匙 (half a teaspoon) 大白粉 (tapioca flour).
少許 (pinch) 糖 (sugar).

Remove all shell fragments from the crab meat, rinse and chop the scallion. Gently beat the eggs till smooth, add the pinch of salt, the oil, the crab meat, and the chopped scallion.
Mix the tapioca flour with a little cold water.
Heat some oil in the wok, pour in the egg mixture, cook till barely set, and slide onto a plate. Wipe any fragments of the omelette out of the wok, add a drizzle oil, and when hot pour in the superior stock and soy sauce, adding the pinch of sugar. After two minutes or so of cooking, stir in the dissolved tapioca flour and when the sauce becomes glossy pour it over the omelette. Add a drizzle of fragrant sesame oil and some minced cilantro if you must.

You will note that in this recipe tapioca flour is specified. But you could also use corn flour, it would simply require a little more. For the Chinese style superior stock you may substitute the normal chicken and bones stock. And feel free to use more crab meat.


LAGNIAPPE

I was already planning to post this recipe when I chanced upon an article in the Telegraaf (a Dutch newspaper).
Remarkably, it deals with Chinese people and crabs. The Chinese are very fond of crab.

QUOTE:
"Chinezen trekken levende krab uit de muur
Nanjing - Chinese forenzen die geen tijd hebben om tijdens openingsuren van de supermarkt een verse, levende krab te halen, kunnen de dieren voortaan uit de automaat halen."

[Translation: Chinese pull live crab out of wall.
Nanjing - Chinese commuters who do not have time to purchase a fresh live crab during business hours at the supermarket can henceforth get the animals out of a vending machine.]


SOURCE: CHINEZEN TREKKEN LEVENDE KRAB UIT DE MUUR
http://www.telegraaf.nl/buitenland/8048707/__Chinezen_trekken_levende_krab_uit_de_muur__.html?p=21%2C2Of

"In verschillende winkelcentra en metrostations staan speciale automaten met daarin levende krabben. De Chinese wolhandkrab is een lokale delicatesse in Nanjing, de hoofdstad van de oosterse provincie Jiangsu."

[Translation: In various shopping centers and metro stations there are special vending machines containing live crabs. The Chinese Mitten Crab is a local delicacy in Nanjing, capitol of the eastern province of Jiangsu.]

"De dieren worden in drie verschillende groottes verkocht en kosten tussen €1,70 en €6. De krabben zijn verpakt in plastic doosjes en worden op een constante temperatuur van 5 graden Celsius gehouden. Dit is genoeg om ze te verdoven, maar ook om ze in leven te houden. “Klanten waren eerst nogal sceptisch en vroegen zich af of de krabben nog wel in leven waren”, aldus Wu Zhendi, eigenaar van de Twin Lake Crab Company. “Maar nu dat we kunnen garanderen dat de beesten leven, blijven klanten terugkomen. We verkopen er dagelijks honderden.” "

[Translation: The animals are available in three different sizes and cost between one point seven Euros and six Euros. The crabs are packaged in plastic boxes and kept at a constant temperature of five degrees Centigrade (41 ° Fahrenheit). This is enough to stun them, but also enough to keep them alive. "Customers were a bit skeptical at first and wondered whether the crabs were still alive", according to Wu Zhendi, owner of the Twin Lake Crab Company, "but now that we can guarantee that the animals are alive, customers keep returning. We sell hundreds every day."]

"Een bord naast de automaat vertelt klanten dat, in het extreme geval dat er een dode krab tussen zit, ze er drie gratis zullen krijgen, aldus de lokale krant Guangzhou Daily. "

[Translation: A sign next to the vending machine informs customers that, in the rare case that there is a dead crab, they can get three free (live) ones, according to the local newspaper Guangzhou Daily.]

* * * * *

I wonder how 'local' the Guangzhou Daily actually is - there's more distance between Guangzhou and Nanjing (approx 1300 miles) than between Amsterdam and Marseilles. Several different Chinese language zones in between, and cultural differences besides. But, to the myopic Dutch, the geography of the rest of the world is both telescoped and condensed.

Comments placed underneath the article by Dutch readers were, of course, "instructive".

About half of the hundred-plus comments were venomous reflections of Dutch bigotry, ignorance, and a sneering sense of superiority, phrased in the most insulting and loathsome manner - a lot of Dutch people are racists who are absolutely convinced that they and they alone represent civilization, the rest of the world is unredeemably barbaric.
The rest of the reader comments were evenly divided between silly humour, Vegan-inspired sanctimony, and realists pointing out that the Dutch themselves were no saints when it came to food.


AFTERWORD

Many Dutch have no idea where their food comes from, but nevertheless see fit to criticize the rest of the world for its culinary practices. This is evident every time I hear tourists speaking Dutch on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street - at such moments I am always ever so grateful that at least they jabber in their own tongue, rather than venting their racism and praeconceptiva in English.
According to many Dutch tourists, live seafood being offered for sale is both barbaric and quaint, live birds are subject to unimaginable cruelty, and many of the ingredients that Chinese use are foul and distasteful.
Other than the picturesque colourfulness of 'those people', they have no good words for Chinatown at great and inordinate length.

Hmmmm.

Eels are sold live at the wekelijksche straatmarkt in Dutch cities and crustaceans are cooked live in their restaurants, many Hollanders in the provinces keep chickens in their back yards and casually twist the birds necks when they are required for dinner, and as far as odd ingredients are concerned, well, perhaps a nation that eats zure zult (sour headcheese), slavinken (bacon-wrapped fatty panfried ground pork), osseworst (raw red ox tartare), snert (pea porridge), deep-fried hockey pucks (bami schijf, nasi schijf, kroket), and puts mayonnaise on EVERYTHING should be more hesitant about their food opinions?

Mayonnaise, Fercrapsakes! Yeah, it's good stuff..... but good lord almighty!

Just another example of pissantry, I guess.


SELLING FOOD IN THE HINTERLANDS

In the backwoods districts of the British Isles, the Benelux, Germany, and France, the local Chinese restaurateurs can reckon on a certain level of coarseness among the clientele, as well as a cheapness beyond compare.

So, rather than acquiring fresh crab, which their customers would not recognize or appreciate anyhow, they use tinned crab meat. And because their customers expect much for very little, they extend the dish with tinned peas. For that exotic touch, they'll throw in some tinned bamboo shoots, perhaps some tinned mushrooms, and lastly, to add both the colour and vulgarity that counters the native gloom, the sauce may be additionally tarted-up with ketchup, sugar, and red food colouring.
Then chopped ham is added - I may have mentioned that the customers expect much for very little, yes?

Truth be told, the best Chinese food in Europe is NOT something that many Europeans could possibly ever appreciate.
Particularly not most Dutch.


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DRIED SHRIMP, CHINESE COOKING, FAT, GIRLS, AND RICE

While I was in South-East Asia I stayed for a while with a Chinese family.
The father had been educated in America, and consequently spoke English with far greater eloquence than I could muster in the local language. He was a very interesting person, combining Ivy-league literacy with the stern heterodox Confucianism once common among Chinese born and raised outside China - old style cultural knowledge, but no strict adherence to any quaint literalities which were in conflict with common sense and pragmatism.
All in all a very flexible man.

His sons and other male relatives were involved in the family business, as were some of the senior women. The only time his daughters showed up at the company warehouse was when they needed to requisition material from the stores. At other times, unmarried females were strictly forbidden from being anywhere near the working men. Too distracting, and quite unseemly.

Whenever I was in that part of the country I would stay over for a while. Not necessarily because of him, however, but because of his youngest daughter. Yes, she was even more fascinating than him - she knew how to cook.
I found her utterly charming.

After eating fruitbat, rancid dried fish, and other oddments, food homecooked by a vivacious young miss is VERY appealing.

Whether it was her food or her vivacity that attracted me I do not know.



JUICY SALTY THINGS 鹹濕物
[Yeah, I know - not quite a fitting choice of words. It's a private joke.]

She once told me that the main problem with Shakespeare was that he never wrote about cooking. So boring, lah!

Well....., one doesn't really expect a mature appreciation of The Bard from a pretty teenager.

Even if she can quote MacBeth with relish.

Neither does one expect Act IV, Scene 1 when observing the young lady in the kitchen. Very disconcerting to have heard about poisoned entrails, toad, sweltered venom, fenny snake, eye of newt, and toe of frog, when you knew that the result would soon be on the dinner table.
The disarming girlish giggle that followed, alas, did not disarm.

"So what the heck am I eating here?!?"

I need not have worried. Her cooking was creative, but not THAT creative. She merely used typical South-East Asian Chinese patent approaches to adding flavour.


Dried shrimp and black mushrooms, gonpui, salt vegetables, dried lilies, chinkang ham, lapcheung, soysauce cured porkbelly, lard, chicken fat, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine.

Unlike several other Chinese comestibles of the dry or odd variety, the substances above are used in small quantities to make a dish more interesting, rather than as main ingredients.
They round out flavours, and many of them contain glutamic acids, and so function in some ways like monosodium glutamate. Their contribution is savoury rather than salty.
These are the equivalents of the salt pork, smoked fish, and dried apples in mediaeval European cooking, essential only because their absence dulls the finished dish.


Dried shrimp: 蝦米 haa mai - these add flavour, and increase the savouriness of the resultant dish.

Black mushrooms: 香菇 heung gu, or 冬菇 dong gu - shiitake mushrooms, used for taste and a textural element.

For vegetable dishes which are simply cooked, one uses about a tablespoon or two of dried shrimp and an equivalent amount of dried black mushroom. Soak them about an hour or so before use. You can add the soaking water to the cooking pot. Black mushrooms can be left whole after trimming off the hard stem, or sliced; dried shrimp are either left whole or mashed up.
Rehydrated dried shrimp can also be stir-fried with garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, sugar, and chili-paste to make a zesty side dish. If oily, add a squeeze of lime.

Gonpui (conpoy): 乾貝 dried scallop, also called 乾瑤柱 (gon yiu chyu - Dried Jade Supports) and 江瑤柱 (gong yiu chyu - River Jade supports). The name 'gonpui' is more common in the Cantonese-speaking areas - it means dried seashell, dried currency. Dried scallop is added to stewed dishes and soups for flavour and nutrition.
Gonpui needs to be soaked for three or four hours at least, after which it is usually pulled apart.

[Yiu: 1. Surname Yiu (Yao). 2. Tribe situated along the China-Burma and China-Siam frontiers. 3. Mother of pearl, nacre, jade. Precious. Chyu: Pillar, supporting post or beam. Support. To lean on.]

Salt vegetables: 鹹菜 haam tsoi. Preserved vegetables, such as 梅菜 mui tsoi - Red-in-Snow cabbage preserved with salt; 天津冬菜 Tien-Jun dong tsoi - Tientsin style finely chopped cabbages with salt and garlic; 榨菜 ja tsoi - Szechuanese mustard stems preserved by semi-drying, salting, pressing (榨) and fermenting.

[Tsoi (菜): as you can guess, this means vegetable. But also, by extension, any cooked dish, or even an entire cuisine. Watch out for restaurants which in their Chinese name have 鬼佬菜 or 西方菜 (kwailo tsoi, seyfong tsoi, respectively). What they serve is NOT Chinese cuisine, it's yours.]

Dried lilies: 金針 kam dzam - Golden Needles; a dried hemerocallidaceous flower which is tonifying, often used in vegetarian dishes and soups.

Chinkang ham: trade name for 金華火腿 (Kam-Hwa foh-doei); cured ham from Chinhua in Chekiang province that rather resembles some Spanish hams.

Lapcheung: 臘腸 Chinese dried pork sausage.

Soysauce cured porkbelly: 臘肉 lap yiuk - thick strips of layered lard and lean pork cured with sugar, soy sauce, nitrates, and dehydration.

Ham, if used, is slivered or chopped - it's presence will be an accent. Same goes for soysauce cured pork belly and lap cheung.

Ginger: 薑 or 姜 keung - fresh ginger is smashed and added to the hot wok before anything else, which will aromatize the oil. Ginger juice may be added to any meats or fish beforehand to denature a strong smell.

[The first character by its phonetic element indicates that ginger originally was not a Chinese product but came from beyond the frontiers. The second character is also the surname Jiang, originally referring to a clan whose women had married into the imperial family during the Shang period. It shows a woman raising aloft a sheep.]

Garlic: 蒜 syun - used in lesser quantity than ginger.


If there is only a minor amount of soaking liquid from dried ingredients, the vegetables can be sizzled with rice wine (酒 jau, or 米酒 mai jau) after gilding in the hot oil. The addition of moisture to the pan releases a burst of steam which further cooks the vegetables.

Both lard and chicken fat are favoured cooking greases - they add flavour and lend a glossy appearance to the dish.

In many cases a little cornstarch water is also added near the end of cooking to make the food look velvety and extend the gravy.

For meat dishes, especially those using pork belly (五花 腩 ng-fa naam: five flower fatty abdomen, also called 五花肉 ng-faa yiuk), which is the favoured cut for most Chinese, the salt vegetables will often come into play. The meat is gilded in the pan, or briefly deep-fried, or even blanched for five minutes in boiling water ere use - this both cleans it and reduces the fat content slightly. Most often it will then be slow-cooked or steamed with a little soy sauce and rice wine, with scallions, ginger, and salt vegetables. Whether or not it is whole while cooking and cut after, or already chunked or sliced before being cooked, is up to you and your recipe. Salt vegetables are rinsed to remove the excess salt and added towards the end, to function as a foil for the rich fatty meat.
Beancurd (豆腐 taufu), beancurd skin (豆皮 taupei - must be soaked before use), or black mushrooms can be added for a most delicious effect, too.

Salt vegetables can also be used in small quantity to add flavour to other dishes. They are very versatile. Even so, whenever I use them I often end up throwing out most of the container, because I don't use them often enough. Ja tsoi, however, keeps nearly forever.

Shrimp paste: 鹹蝦醬 haahm haa jeung - a moist odoriferous goo sold in jars. Many White Anglo-Saxon Protestants have an antipathy towards this, I do not know why. You may substitute anchovy paste if you are delicate.
For a more robust flavour, use shrimp-paste instead of both the salt vegetables and the dried ingredients. Fatty pork steamed with shrimp-paste and ginger is utterly delicious, fresh vegetables sautéed with shrimp-paste and chilies are divine.
Your house-mates may disagree. They're probably a bunch of prods.


THE WELL-STOCKED LARDER

I realize that not everyone can have a vivacious Chinese miss in the house, which is a great pity - they add so very much to the quality of life - but most of the other things I have mentioned are easily available, and, like the teenager, it takes a while before they go bad.
So if you do not cook as often as you would like, you should consider acquiring them.

If you ever intend to have a lively young thing in your life, it is probably also a good idea to learn how to cook a more varied selection of dishes than typical bachelor chow. Trust me, grilled cheese sandwiches made with processed yellow slices and pop-tarts may be perfect late at night.... but they are hardly candlelight supper quality.
Even with Branston Pickle and hot sauce.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AN ASPERGERLY 'A-RETENTIVE' AFTERWORD

The characters for dried shrimp (蝦米 haa mai) literally read 'shrimp rice'. But that needs a little elucidation. Rice, you see, is not always rice.
In China and South-East Asia, people make distinctions which are not well-expressed in English.

Rice starts of as 'dou' (稻), which is rice in the field - padi ('paddy') in Malay ('palay' in Tagalog) means both the growing rice and where it is grown, which is a 稻田 (dou tien: rice field) or 水田 (sui tien: water field) to the Chinese.
Once harvested and processed, it is 米 (mai: raw rice), called 'beras' in Malay and 'bigas' in Tamarao and most Philippino languages (Jalan Beras Basa in Singapore is 'wet rice road').

After cooking, it is 飯 (fan: cooked rice), which is the basis of almost all Southern Chinese and South-East Asian meals. Without cooked rice you are eating a mere snack. That's what that foot long hoagie with meats and cheeses really is, just a snack. Your mother may never have believed you when you said that, but over a billion Asians know that you were right. Same goes for the extra large pizza. Snack.

There are two other useful terms which you should also learn: 糯米 (lo mai) glutinous rice, used in a number of wrapped steamed dishes, and 飯桶 (fan tong), meaning a rice bucket - but charmingly also a wastrel, dummy, or dimwit.


NOTE: The rice that Chinese and many others prefer is 籼稻 (sin dou: long grain non-glutinous rice).
Sin ( 籼) is a homophone for sin (秈): common rice, non-glutinous rice.
Long grain rice is also called 籼米 (sin mai).



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Monday, October 25, 2010

LITTLE SISTERS AND WARM WHITE GLOOP

Question: what is both a euphemism for a mysterious part of the female anatomy, AND a traditional good luck expression?
Hint: No, it isn't a yiddishism!
Further hint: Despite the magnificent vulgarity of his tongue twixt the lips of a Rotterdam dockworker, it isn't a Dutch expression either.


蠔豉 HO SI!
The noble dried oyster, beloved by Cantonese. It sounds the same as 'great success' or 'good affairs' (好事), and consequently has excellent connotations.
To the febrile mind it looks like .........!
And consequently has excellent connotations.

I shall not spell out what it looks like. We need not go there. Cantonese are earthy.

The imagery is quite startling when an angry woman snaps it at 'not-her-friend' on Grant Avenue.

反你嘅蠔豉 FAN NEI-GE HO-SI!!!
["Return your dried oyster!"]

You need to know that 'fan' (反, 返 to return, return to, restore) is commonly used in Cantonese to express rejection of something, or even disappetizement. In that latter sense, the connotations of the first character (反) are apposite: inside-out, upside-down, topsy-turvy, rebellious, contrary........

What the old lady hollered was the equivalent of 'up yours, bitch!'

I mention all this for two reasons. The first being that I reread the Song of Songs yesterday evening, which is just chock-full of euphemisms. Apples. Heaps of wheat. Winecups. Cedars. Pomegranates. Clusters of grapes, vineyards, gardens, flowerbeds. Bushes, walls, door-holes, fingers dripping with myrh. Pillars. Young deer. Oh boy.
To the febrile mind these seem like ........... We need not go there.

Her brothers were quite clearly oblivious while their sweet little sister matured into one HOT young thing - "we have a little sister, who hath no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day that she will be spoken for".

Dudes! Her breast are like towers! You guys blind or what?


The second reason is that I made a large pot of jook (粥 congee) to eat. And it was very good.

For each cup of washed rice take twelve cups liquid, of which some should certainly be good chicken stock. Add a slice or two of fresh ginger. Bring to a boil, turn low, and simmer for a few hours, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or scorching. The goal is to reduce the rice to a gruel, the grains having almost entirely lost their individuation at that point. You need to judge for yourself whether you want it thick or thin - I prefer my jook a little thin, so I added more liquid.

To flavour it, in the last hour I added dried oysters (蠔豉), lahp cheung (臘腸 Chinese sausage), dried mushrooms (香菇 heung gu, 冬菇 dong gu, or in Japanese: 椎茸), and a very mild pinch of this and that.
Plus the merest hint of soy sauce - it should not even colour the soup.

Ho-si and dried mushrooms need to be soaked ere use - warm water speeds up the process but may wash out some flavour. Cold water with a pinch of sugar is best, about an hour. Rinse to remove any grit or crud, then slice. Both of these ingredients are affordable even at higher qualities, both have a pleasant density of texture.
Lahp cheung needs no soaking, but removing the casing becomes much easier if you blanch it with water just under boiling. About a dozen dried oysters and mushrooms, two lahp cheung.

When serving, add a little chopped scallion, some finely minced ginger, and a drizzle of sesame oil (麻油 ma yau).
Some hot buttered toast on the side is a splendid idea.

What makes jook so appealing is that it is comfort food. Smooth on the tongue, gentle on the stomach, unpretentious, satisfying. Warm happy gloop.
Also, it is perfect for a wet day - I started cooking in the morning, while it was steadily coming down. By the time I finished, the rain had stopped entirely.
It must have worked, eh?


AFTERTHOUGHT

Hmmmmmm. Ho si. The Song of Songs. Fertile euphemisms. Lahp cheung. Rain. Simmering.
I guess in one sense, it was all about sex. But also entirely not.
We need not go there.



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Sunday, October 24, 2010

LEARNING CANTONESE THE LAZY WAY

How did I learn Cantonese? By accident. But it was inevitable. Two factors played a strong part, namely partial deafness, and obsessive curiosity.

The curiosity started acting up first.

In the mid eighties I moved to a residential hotel in North Beach (北岸區 Pak On Keui), on Broadway (布律威街 Bo-loh-wai Kai) near the edge of Chinatown (唐人街 Tong-Yan Kai).
It was a convenient location for work, and I didn’t have time to look for real digs – I was working fifteen hour days, six or seven days a week, in a large company down on Market near the Ferry building. My living quarters were barely fifteen minutes away from the office.
That job came to an end when a project deadline was finally finished and most of the people working in that department had had fits and nervous breakdowns.
My next job was on Grant Avenue (Dupont Street: 都板街) near the Chinatown Gate.

Every day I went down Grant to work, walked back up for lunch, back down, back up. After a few weeks I started recognizing some written characters on signs - when you see several dozen bank names all terminating the same way, it isn't hard to figure out that 銀行 (Ngaan hong: 'silver enterprise') must mean 'bank'.
Same goes for restaurants (飯店 fan diem: 'cooked rice shop'; 餐廳 tsan teng: 'dining hall'; 餐館 tsan koon: 'dining establishment'), herbalists (堂 tong: 'large room or hall for a formal purpose'), political parties and benevolent societies (黨 tong: 'party, association, criminal gang'), companies (公司 gong si: 'public managed'), and numerous other signs.

I bought a dictionary (詞典 or 辭典 tsi diem) to look up what I didn't know.
And eventually another dictionary.
One can never have too many dictionaries.


YENG YUEN 影院 MOVIE THEATRES

The partial deafness I mentioned earlier inspired me to go to a Chinese movie theatre. Because the ambient noise in most theatres makes understanding what actors are saying difficult, I prefer movies with subtitles. Chinese cinema is almost always subtitled for distribution in South-East Asia (東南亞洲 Tung-Naam Ya-Chou).
This I remembered from traveling in the early eighties - perhaps, in C'town, the movies were also subtitled?

They were.
Idiosyncratically.
That, too, provided entertainment value.

"Incant you stink old lumps, match all family toppers!"

While the British ruled Hong Kong, there was a legal requirement that all movies be subtitled in English. The style and standard of English, however, was NOT legally specified.

Please imagine a small group of people involved in the making of the film pulling an all-nighter to get the thing subtitled in time for the release date - a few boxes of pizza (比薩餅 peisa beng, perhaps from 必勝客 Bitsaang Hak: Pizza Hut), some containers of instant noodles (方便麵 fongpien mien: convenience noodle - usually called 公仔麵 Gongtsai mien: Prince Noodles, after a well-known HongKong brand), caffeinated beverages, lots of beer (啤酒 peh-jau) .......

And a dictionary that has seen better days. Well thumbed. But not well written. It was cheap. They misplaced the other one. Somebody spilled sugary milktea on it, several pages are stuck.

At five o'clock in the morning, the one person still working translates the villain threatening the hero that he will wipe out his entire family: fit them with coffin lids.
The context makes clear that a hat shop and voodoo are not implied.
Despite the (entirely logical but wrong) English words on screen.

After that first visit to the now defunct World Theatre, I was hooked.
Five bucks for a double bill (one new movie, one older release, several commercials and coming attractions), a full snack bar at affordable prices with interesting foods - dried plums, candied pork jerky, shrimp snacky things, chrysanthemum tea. Come whenever you like, stay as longs as you want, eat drink smoke and play cards in the back row. Watch teenagers doing ... teenagy things.
NO reek of stale popcorn NOR rancid butter flavour - those aren't things that Cantonese people like.

There were five movie theatres in Chinatown in those days.

[Taai Ming Sing Hey Yuen (great Star Theatre, 大明星戲院), Sai Kai Hey Yuen (World Theatre, 世界戲院), Kam To Hey Yuen (Golden Capitol Theatre, 金都戲院), San Seng Hey Yuen (New Sound Theatre 新聲戲院), and also the Wa Seng (China Sound 華聲戲院) on Jackson Street, which sometimes showed Japanese soft-porn dubbed into Mandarin for homesick Taiwanese.]


Each theatre changed their offerings weekly. Sometimes twice. I had no television.
I ended up seeing about two thousand Cantonese movies.
You kinda pick up on the language when you're that exposed.



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Friday, October 22, 2010

CANTONESE GIRLS

Over on Facebook, sparkling little minx and fellow-blogger Steffy Chou asked about herring, and wrote: "Feel free to wax lyrical about herring on your blog. And stop speculating about Cantonese girls. We're normal, you aren't."
Earlier she had said: "For the life of me I cannot figure out whether his primary fetish is Cantonese girls or pipe-smoking."
She kindly provided a link to a previous post in which I mentioned search criteria by which readers found this place. Hence the linking of Cantonese girls and herring.


Well now. Two things:

1.
You'll find everything I have to say about herring here and here
[FAT GREEN VIRGINS: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/06/fat-green-virgins.html
FAT LITTLE VIRGINS: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2010/08/fat-little-virgins.html
Both essays have the words 'fat' and 'virgins' in the title. This confuses the occasional internet-wandering pervert. They would be better off with herring anyway. They just don't know it yet.]
2. I do like speculating about Cantonese girls. Boy howdy.


Actually, I like speculating about girls period. They are a fascinating subject. But I wouldn't describe 'Cantonese girls' as a fetish. Earlier on my blog I had mentioned that I like women who are shorter than me, and I may have also mentioned round heads and dark hair.
Having lived most of my childhood and adolescence in the Netherlands, you will probably understand that blondes who are taller than me are not exactly rain in my world. Nor, given my ambivalence about the Dutch, particularly an objective.
Most of the girls I ever had a crush on were indeed significantly shorter than myself - I don't like staring up at chins - though some of them were indeed blondes.

In particular, from my high school years I remember Bertje Klerk and Uki Schneider as stunning and loveable. Very nice girls, pale soft butter-blondes.

[Intelligent, too. Which may explain why I remember them. Stupid people are not memorable.]

However, Cantonese girls are quite delightful.

Whoever came up with the term 'Inscrutable Oriental' had never met the Cantonese. The term 'inscrutable' just does NOT apply. How can you possibly describe as 'inscrutable' an ethnic group which lives operatically at full volume, has a vocabulary that blisters paint, and expresses itself best through either insurrection or cooking?

There's an adventurousness and obstinacy to the Cantonese that is both endearing and unusual.

That isn't particularly surprising, given their history: Guangdong was Sinified by smugglers, pirates, incendiarists, criminals, dissidents, and tax-dodgers, as well as people who just wanted to get the hell away. The area south of the passes was long regarded as the wild frontier, where civilized people would suffer untold miseries surrounded by the wild Yuet, Man, Mang, Mieu, Yao and Fan tribes.
Nice polite Northern Chinese had no desire to go there. Nope. Not just Chinese enough. Too hot. Weird food. And they talk funny.

[Guangdong (廣東):'Broad East'; Canton province, the eastern part of the area south of the passes (嶺南 Ling Nan - another name for Kwantung). Yuet (越, 粵): the first character means 'frontier', and nowadays is applied to Vietnam (越南 South of the Frontiers). The second character is cognate and homophonous, originally a graphic representation of something creepy-crawly. It is the one-character referent for Canton Province and Cantonese things.
Man (蠻), Mang (芒), Mieu (苗), Yao (猺) and Fan (番): names of various tribes. The character for Man (蠻) shows a twisty critter underneath a cocoon, indicating that they weren't considered human, but rather repulsive, almost reptilian. Mang and Mieu both show the grass radical, as if the tribes in question were wild growths. Yao has the wild beast radical next to a phonetic element, and Fan has always meant barbarian.
White people are often refered to as Lofan' (佬番).]

BALLS!

The average Cantonese person does not whine about having been caught breaking the law - instead, they'll simply resolve to be a far better criminal next time.
And, if you're Cantonese, there's ALWAYS a next time.
The Cantonese combine chutzpah, cojones, and a brashly positive outlook.


粵女 YUET NUI

[Girl from Viet, as in the line 誰憐越女顏如玉 , 貧賤江頭自浣紗 ('shui lien Yuet-nui ngaan yu yuk, pan daam gong tou ji wun saa?'): "who notices the girl from Viet with a face like white jade, humbly washing silk alone down at the river bank?" Final line from a poem (洛陽女兒行) by Wang Wei (王維), T'ang Dynasty period.]

So in some sense, then, I do indeed have a fetish for Cantonese-American girls.
Feisty, at times foul-mouthed, and seriously into food.
Things like that I can definitely deal with.

I am not particularly intrigued by Japanese women, Filippinas, or other Asian-American types.
Northern Chinese can be very attractive - but they just aren't very interesting.
Taiwanese tend to whine in baby-like little-girl voices.... uuurghhh!
Shan't say anything about Shanghainese. Or Szechuanese. Or Fujianese. Nope, not my type. Dull.

And while I like the cuisine of nearly every place in South-East Asia, I am not interested in the women from those climes. Yes, many of them can be beautiful. But they have as little appeal as stuck-up European women, Irish-Americans, and chunky San Francisco Cholitas.
Or girls with tattoos.

Anger and indignation I can deal with. That, at least, demands to be treated as an equal.
Whining, pouting, and an attitude of entitlement are immediately repulsive.



背脊向天,都可以食
BUI-JIK HEUNG TIEN, DOU HO-YI SIK

[Anything with its back to the sky can be eaten!]

A lack of culinary curiosity also disenchants. One must be broad-minded!
Food is the great passion, finding new edible things and figuring out how best to prepare them is inexhaustibly intriguing.
The Cantonese approach to food is extremely appealing.
Almost a way of life.

So yes, Cantonese-American women excite me. They're like Belgians. Except smaller, angrier, and more opinionated. Zesty.

..............

I just need to find one who likes the smell of pipe-tobacco.


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Thursday, October 21, 2010

NO THANKS, I'M NOT HUNGRY

Chilipeppers are a blessing. They are probably the only thing that makes heavy bland white person food edible.
Like me, you probably needed a dollop of chilipepper paste (sambal) with your thanksgiving turkey, or the pot-roast you had over at the Smiths.

[In fact, I don’t think I know anybody named Smith, and I doubt that they would invite me over. There aren’t that many whitebreads in my social environment. But calling a fictitious family of hospitable all-Americans ‘the Smiths’ is a convenient fancy. They cook bland.]


JALAPEÑO
Back in the nineties I worked at a computer company in Menlo Park.
Once I had experienced the ghastly food in the suburbs first hand, I got into the habit of packing a baggy of jalapeños every morning, to make whatever I would have the misfortune to eat for lunch edible.
For anything from the roach-coach, all of them were necessary (8-12).
Italian food in downtown Palo Alto: maybe three.
Goat curry at the Jamaican place: one.

There was one place where I didn’t need the peppers. I’m afraid I cannot remember the name, but their chimichangas were superb. One of the salsas they made fresh everyday was fire-roasted chile peron with a little cumin and salt. It was delicious.


CHILE PERON
The remarkable thing about the chile peron and its sibling the chile manzana is the particular capsaicin molecule. It does not register as hot to some people, even those not used to heat, whereas others, even if they eat spicy food on a regular basis, may find it extraordinary. The office manager at Fweebink once tasted a sliver from some chiles I had on my desk and ran for the women’s room screaming and choking, her face red and her lips purple. She normally ate Thai chiles and Santakas.
She accused me of being an evil bloodthirsty heathen for weeks afterwards.
For me it was a nice fruity mild-heat. Juicy flesh. Lovely.


HABANERO
After several months of deprivation, eating bland suburban crap, I decided to bring my own hot sauce.
It was a simple compound, similar to ‘sauce chien’ – a dozen habaneros osterized with salt, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and a little spice. That first bottle disappeared within a day – I had forgotten that some of the engineers were also frantic.
If I remember correctly, Duckwhistle Chin insisted I sell it to him.
For over a year I had a nice little side-business vending homemade hot sauce to desperate engineers and programmers. And their friends. And acquaintances of theirs at other computer companies as far south as San Jose.
As well as random strangers who had ... 'heard'.
Yes, the food in the suburbs is that bad.


BLAND BLURK
There are times in downtown San Francisco when it seems that the suburbs have come home to roost. There are two McDonalds within walking distance of the office, a Taco Bell, a Bob's Big Boy, a Boo-King, and a Jack in the Box.
Quiznos and Subway have multiple locations. There are sandwich shops. Soup and salad huts. Pizzerias with a huge number of vegetarian options. Dogs. Burgers. Vegan.

The suburbanites must love it here, their pale pasty-faced food whims are catered to big time.

[I really wish we worked closer to Chinatown (唐人街). Some wonton (餛飩) soup right now would be lovely. Or yüpien jook (sliced fish rice porridge 魚片粥) with yautieuw (fried dough strips 油條). And a peydan-so (century egg flaky pastry 皮蛋酥) from the bakery-counter on the way out.]

In the last week, some hip chain selling generic sandwiches, soups, salads, and wraps opened up across the street. It has been filled every day. It is beloved.
The espresso bar on the ground floor of this building has been replaced by a bunch of amateurs selling all vegan biodegradable fair-trade sustainable macrobiotic politically correct socially responsible well-meaning environmental green slop designer coffee - they are catering to well-meaning folks with no taste from the countryside.
You know, South City, San Bruno, Brisbane, and Oakland.

Each day while I'm smoking my pipe, insipid looking dudes walk by carrying salads. Secretarial bovines with energy bars and diet shakes.
I've seen people eating no-fat granola yoghurt cups for fun.
Good lord, they're taking over.
I may have to start making my own hot sauce again.


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

THE UNBEARABLE WHITENESS OF BEING

Before I moved to the back of the hill, I still lived in North Beach. For the first three years of our illicit relationship, Savage Kitten and I sort of lurked in bookstores and coffee shops in that neighborhood. In the evening I would walk her home, crossing over to the other side of the street when we got within three block of her house. We didn’t want her parents to find out, or her nosey Cantonese neighbors to see us together.
I would keep an eye on her till she opened her front door.

[Indeed, a form of cowardice. But if you think an innocent little Cantonese adult woman-person has the freedom to live her own life as she sees fit, you’ve got another think coming. Cantonese parents are not enamored of big hairy kwailo seeing their daughters. And even if, miraculously, they are cool with it, they have neighbors and fellow villagers who believe that gossip and evil tongues are the mainstays of civilized life.
Oh, and hey – I am indeed a kwailo. Perhaps you had forgotten that? I am big and hairy, I glow in the dark, and like all white folks I smell bad, eat too much, and dress funny.]
We thought we were being absolutely discrete.

Sometime in 1992 I found out that we could have been more so.

One night after seeing Savage Kitten home, I was at Mickey’s when Nawlins Bongo came in.

[Mickey’s and Nawlins Bongo are not the real names of the business or the person, please understand. These are euphemismatic code names (ve ha mavin yavin). I’m protecting the guilty.]

Once Nawlins Bongo had found out that I spoke Dutch, he had confided in me that he thoroughly enjoyed his stay in South Africa, the Boers had had a real handle on things, everything was proper there and people knew their place …… damned shame that they had been forced to change! What was this world coming to?

He often got drunk after getting off work from Ristorante Italiano MultiPasti (see previous note about names), and fulsome praise for South Africa and the Afrikaners was one of his constant refrains at such times. He would weep. It was all so sad.


I JUST GOTTA AXE!

This particular evening, Nawlins Bongo wanted to ask me a question. How, he wanted to know, could I bear to pollute myself by being intimate with a Chinese person. It just wasn't right. Didn't I have ANY pride?
Wasn't I disgusted? What was wrong with me?

The restaurant at which he worked was in a neighborhood that was about fifty percent Chinese-American. The people who lived across the street from his job were Chinese-American. The place where he bought his smokes was run by Chinese-Americans. The local liquor store that sold him his lottery tickets and six-packs of swillbeer was Chinese-American.


"How can you bear to pollute yourself by sleeping with something like that?"

He was really far too drunk to require an answer. Even his belabouring the subject went off on a tangent, and he spent the rest of the evening gibbering.
I decided not to make a big deal of it. Had he been sober, I would have emasculated him.
But in the state he was in, he wouldn't remember a thing the next day, and would wonder why he hurt down there.

You see, I knew him. Nawlins Bongo was a good ole boy. A typical drawling inbred white idiot.
More beer than brains.

And I also knew that the previous night he had lost nearly two hundred dollars at poker to Ah-Choy.
Nearly every evening Nawlins Bongo would come in, join the card game on the back table, and leave an hour later a hundred or so dollars poorer, and drunker than ever - Ah-Choy (啊財) and Ah-Tam (啊譚) would have won all of his tip money. He never understood that their temperate habits and intelligence would triumph over a dumb white galoot such as himself every single time.
They would cheerfully thank him for the money, and buy him his last beer of the evening with the proceeds.

Even if Ah-Tam didn't come - having recently gotten married, he had to act like a responsible man - Nawlins Bongo would still lose it all. He just couldn't figure out that he was an idiot.

Ah-Choy, who didn't understand ninety percent of what Nawlins Bongo said, would pluck him nekkid. He had him pegged for a fool from the very first day.


NAWLINS BONGO AND MOOLOO

I can't quite remember what year it was, but Nawlins Bongo ended up in the hospital. No, it had nothing to do with his racist mouth and what came out of it. The medical attention was necessitated by someone else's mouth and what went in.
You see, he had offered to share some cocaine with Mooloo. Who had gone into convulsions and bitten off more than she could chew.

Don't worry, they reattached it at the hospital. Though, given the nature of the injury and where the stitches were, you will understand that they decided to keep him there. There is almost no way to isolate that part, or put it in a sling to prevent movement.
Catheters don't help.

I should probably also mention that Mooloo was from the Horn of Africa, and crazy as a bedbug.

So odd that she was just his type. I never bothered asking him how he could bear it - I'm not that kind of man. His eccentricities were his own business.

It just isn't the kind of question one should ask.

He was in the hospital longer than expected. That may have been because a number of us kept sending him care packages..... Penthouse, Playboy, Hustler, Teen Slut Parade, and Crack Whore Magazine.
Plus some really smutty stuff.
These were all just about his literacy level, and he probably got more reading done in those six weeks than the decades he was in grammar school.

One of the people sending Nawlins Bongo care packages was the big black bouncer from one of the Broadway clubs. A fellow poker player.

Even Ah-Choy contributed. So did Ah-Tam. As well as the Arab owner of Mickey's, whom Nawlins Bongo constantly referred to as "hey damned Terrorist".

In our own way, we all loved Nawlins Bongo.


FAST FORWARD....

I guess you can probably understand why I will not visit the South anytime soon, maybe not even in this life. Not everybody there is like that - I hear that there are in fact any number of nice civilized Rednecks - but there are still some folks down there who are too much like Nawlins Bongo.
He's long since moved back home, by the way.
The Bay Area was just too freaky for him.

I hope he's taken Mooloo with him. He probably can't remember what she did in any case, and they have so very much in common.
Beer. Coke. Big mouths.


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

KEY WORDS: CANTONESE GIRLS SMOKING PANTIES

Sometimes I am surprised by what has drawn readers to this blog.
Today, for instance, these are a few of the internet searches that pulled them in:

'Free lesbian porn videos'
'Girl pipe smoking'
'Cantonese girls in panties'
'Erotic cigarette smokers in pointed bras and shiny blouses'


[There were several others, but they all had to do with pipe tobacco.]


CAPTIVE PRAWNS FROM LESBOS!

How odd! I don't think I've ever mentioned lesbian porn videos - hardly an interest of mine, and in some ways quite as boring as watching the San Francisco Giants on television - but the subject seems to excite quite a few scholarly minds. Lesbian porn videos are a constant.
Which is something I just can't get my head around.

The other three listed criteria make a lot more sense, and there might even be a certain overlap, as the categories are not exclusive. A girl smoking a pipe might be Cantonese, and would almost certainly be wearing panties - smoking in the nude, while good wholesome fun, is not common. At least not with a pipe.
And the Cantonese girl pipesmoker might be wearing a pointed brassiere too, though that is distinctly and deliciously less probable. Or a shiny blouse (with or without the highly unlikely pointy bra). This is a lovely mental picture which I shall be sure to dwell upon. Well, without the pointed bra, of course.
I doubt that Madonna-style bosom garments are comfortable or give much support.

And if anything, I am all about supportive comfort.


WEEK 

Three exciting search criteria stand out for the past seven days:

'Dimpled knees'
'Pipe smoking ladies'
"my daughter has no respect for me!"


There's a suggestion of narrative relationship there - perhaps his teenage daughter with the dimpled knees has become a pipe-smoking young lady, and has no respect for him because of his ghastly preferences in tobacco (aromatics). Or maybe the writer is herself a pipe-smoking lady whose disrespectful daughter has dimpled knees. If there is a moral, it is that dimpled knees are very much worth searching for, and aromatic pipe tobaccos should be avoided.


MONTH

One truly unique search criterium. And it's a doozy. The searcher who clicked on my link must have been sorely disappointed. Peeved, even.
Here it is: "Little virgins"
Well now. Yum.

For more, much more, of my 'virgin' fetish - fat, green, or otherwise - go HERE.
It will answer all your questions, I promise!
Might even get your mouth watering.
Not a single one of the virgins I mention are wearing panties.
And none of them are Cantonese, though I know that Cantonese like them.



NOTE: Almost all the other searches for the day, the week, the month, and even all time, had to do with tobacco and sex. There's lots of stuff about tobacco on this blog - Balkan Sobranie, Samuel Gawith, Dunhill, Drucquers, Rattrays, Gallagher - and very little about sex. Hardly anything, actually.
This blog may on occasion naughtily tempt, or even flash a chubby little stockinged gam at the unwary, but it remains, never the less, virginal.
The pink panties aren't coming off. Ever.


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ADDENDUM: October 20, 2010

Just checked today's search terms.

Interesting items:
1. 'Little Virgins'
2. 'I love Geert Wilders'
3. 'Pipe Ladies'
4. 'Nuke Pakistan'
5. 'Brevitously'

To the person looking for little virgins: Please! The ONLY little virgins a civilized man has ANY interest in are herring - matjes herring. All other virgins better be big-ass heffalumps. You will find NO little virgins - other than matjes herring - on this blog. They do not hang out here. The herring drove them off.

For the person who loves Geert Wilders, you need help. Sexual fantasies are so much more zesty if populated by normal girls.
Like, for instance pipe ladies. My fantasy is to find a petite and charming late-teenage Cantonese girl with a pronounced fondness for either medium-full English-style mixtures (Dunhill London Mixture or Standard Mixture Medium, Drucquers Levant or Trafalgar, and Westminster by G. L. Pease, et autres) OR full rich Virginia flakes from Samuel Gawith (Full Virginia Flake, Best Brown, 1792 Flake, or Bracken Flake).
Hello, Sweetie, I still have over one hundred tins of London Mixture - call me!

[Plus over two hundred tins all told of 965, Standard Mixture Medium, Durbar. And several dozen tins of various G. L. Pease tobaccos. Even some Balkan Sobranie. You and I have so much in common!]

While I grant that nuking Pakistan is a lovely idea, I fear that it will not happen anytime soon. The Indians are perfectly happy having a bunch of goat-banging heathens next door, as long as the bastards don't glow in the dark.
They'll ignore the smell - sometimes the wind blows from the East.

Re: brevitously: say what?


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Monday, October 18, 2010

CRUNCHY HOT CULINARY CRIME

One week ago was warm and sunny, today there is an autumnal chill in the air. And what I really wanted to eat for lunch, given that in this weather it would have been both delightful and delicious, is not available in San Francisco. Ever. We are benighted.
We have no wall-food.


DEEP-FRIED BIO-HAZARD

Also known as Dutch junk food. Everything goes better with fries.
In particular, I would have loved a frikadel. Or a kroket.

A frikadel (alternate spelling: frikandel) is not the same as the Belgian snack that goes by that name, nor the well-known Scandinavian interpretations. The Dutch frikadel was invented in North-Brabant after the war , so it's something that Brabanders can be proud of ........ although, truth be told, they might prefer that you forget all about the regional connection.
It consists of finely ground meat, spices, meat fat, and paneer meel (very fine breadcrumbs) formed into a sausage shape, rolled in egg white, dusted with more paneer meel, and deep fried. The cooked result is surprisingly tasty.
Juicy hot treify goodness.
One can eat it as is, or with mustard and other condiments. Think of it as a civilized version of a meatloaf.

[You can make a very passable proximile of frikadels by double-grinding marbled meat, mixing it with a lesser quantity of soaked stale bread, a hefty pinch of mace or nutmeg, ground pepper, coriander, etcetera. When a nice stiffish paste is achieved, form into tubes or patties, dip in egg white, dust with fine breadcrumbs, and fry till brown. Experiment and develop your own interpretation.]


The kroket, which is more popular north of the three rivers in the Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and points in between), is utterly delicious too. Or just as repulsive - it depends on your attitude.
About fifteen to twenty percent meat or other edible protein blended into béchamel with spices, formed and chilled, double dipped and rolled in coarse breadcrumbs, and nuked in the fry daddy. Hot and crunchy on the outside, molten lava on the inside. It can burn right through the roof of your mouth. For some reason Amsterdam cafes serve it with toast.


"Vreet nooit zult - geen mens weet wat er in zit!"
Never eat headcheese - nobody knows what's in it!
[From a book by Toon Kortooms.]


Both of these delicacies usually contain body parts that normal people do not consider edible.
I've been eating garbage for years.

Frikadel and kroket are the mainstays of wall automats all over Amsterdam, and fry-palaces in the rest of the country. Along with such things as the bami schijf and the nasi schijf (besides many other odd hot miracles).

[Bami schijf: Indonesian spicy fried noodles formed into a disc, breaded, and deep fried. Nasi schijf: Indonesian fried rice treated the same way. Both were earlier incarnated as the Bami bal and the Nasi bal - globular croquettes with those fillings.]


Properly done, deep fried foods need not be particularly fattening - the hot oil sears and seals the outside, and the moisture content of the food will not be replaced by grease. Even French fries, if done properly, will be light and have a pleasant internal fluffiness.


DEEP FRY THAT PUPPY!

Unfortunately American attempts at deep-frying are often ghastly failures. Fries, more often than not, are limp soggy artery cloggers, fish and chips are as perfectly inedible as anything can be, and chicken becomes an oil-soaked monstrosity. The fried fruit pocket pie is darned close to attempted murder, eating the damn thing is on par with shooting engine residue into your arteries.

On the other hand, nothing beats some English "foods" for sheer terrible - consider, if you will, the Spam Fritter. It is made by taking a thick slice of Spam, battering it, and dropping it into a luke-warm oil-bath. The first taste on a cold evening is ...... okay. Well, interesting. Not all that bad. Remember, it's a cold evening. This thing is warm.
It goes downhill from there. By the third bite you will be filled with regret, angst, anomie.
Should you dare finish the horrid lump, you will have made an enemy of your digestive system for life.

Like many other nightmarish things, the Spam fritter is available at English Fish and Chip shops, and from chipper vans. And soon also in the United States. I think we've been waiting for this.


The Dutch, the Belgians, and the Cantonese know how to deep-fry. The rest of the world doesn't. It's as simple as that. Please step away from the Fryolator.


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ONE AFTERNOON IN CHINATOWN - M KOI NEY!

Went across the hill to Chinatown this weekend, as there are times when you just need to feed the inner Tsim-tung gangster. That’s no trouble when you are a bachelor, as I am once again. You do not need anyone to tag along, and you can eat and buy whatever you please - stuff that might elicit a "what the heck is that" from the average suburbanite, things that might demand explanation. These are foods one doesn't really want to talk about.

In some ways, I am more Chinese than Savage Kitten – I take certain ingredients for granted, without batting an eye-lash.

[In other ways of course I am much less Chinese than Savage kitten – her ancestry is rooted in Toishan (臺山), and she has skin of a pale ivory hue, a soft golden velvet. My ancestors are mostly verkrampte Calvinists, with some odds and ends thrown in (including a fraction of Native American), and my skin is glow-in-the-dark white, unappetizing and pasty by comparison. My eyes are a disconcerting battle-ship grey, my hair is old-mouse brown, and my round eyes and beaky nose just about scream darn foxy Kwailo.
I am, in Cantonese terms, sahp-fan ji sahp Lofan (十分之十佬番) - out of ten parts ten barbarian. Oh, plus I usually think in English - you can't really get more Lofanish than that.]



First stop: A hole in the wall for Cheung fan and Siu Mai - the breakfast of champions. Cheung fan especially is good for the stomach after a late night, which was another reason I wouldn't want a tag-along - I am not conversationally able with post- Irish Whiskey digestion. The Cheung fan were fresh shrimp, the Siu Mai were pork.
I watched several tourists doing the 'what's that' routine.

"What's that? Ew, ick! What's that?!? Huuuuuinh!! What's that?!?!? Eyewwwwww!!! What's that?!?!?!? Jesus Christ yuuuuuuuck!!!! Okay, we'll have some of those."

[Siu Mai: 燒賣 - small steamed wheat flour wrapper dumpling filled with minced pork or shrimp. Cheung fan: 腸粉 - rice flour batter ladled on a flat surface in a steamer, thinly. It is done after about five minutes of steamheat, whereupon the flat noodly sheet is peeled off and loosely rolled. In the first minute of cooking a filling is added along one edge - shrimp, or chopped meat, or black mushrooms. In Malaysia they often pan-fry it after steaming and cooling, and serve it with a sweet slightly hot sauce. In San Francisco, you add a smidgen of hot chilipaste and a drizzle of soy. They are very easy on the digestion, and delightfully soft on the tongue.
Among the various 'ew' foods: Lo Mai Gai: 糯米雞 - glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. Luo Bak Go: 蘿蔔糕 - Turnip cake with a little Chinese sausage and dried shrimp, steamed, cut into squares, and pan-fried. Ma Tai Go: 馬蹄糕 - Horse hoof (water chestnut) cake. Wu Tau Go: 芋頭糕 - Taro cake. These are all very good. Why they should elicit 'ew' is beyond me. Some people are morons.
What the 'ew' tourists eventually bought: Charsiu Bao (叉燒包 - Barbecued Pork Bun). They always buy charsiu bao, they don't want anything else. They seemingly don't know of any other comestible. Charsiu Bao: it's tourist kibble.]


After enjoying the spectacle of incomprehension and mental blinkers provided by the non-locals for a while, I got up and left. I needed to buy some things.


日本蠔豉 * 臘腸 * 五香粉
YATBOON HO SI, LAHP CHEUNG, NG-HEUNG FAN


At a store on Stockton Street which had its merchandise attractively arranged in an orderly manner, I purchased some Japanese dried oysters, Chinese Sausage, and Five Spice powder.

蠔豉 DRIED OYSTERS

Dried oysters, among other things, are excellent in jook (rice porridge: 粥). One soaks them in warm water for about 30 minutes, rinses them, and cuts them up before adding them to the simmering rice, about fifteen to twenty minutes before the end of cooking at least. It is especially nice if pork is also added to the jook. Additionally, they feature in a famous Cantonese good luck dish: 髮菜大蠔豉 Black Moss and Big Dried Oyster, which is homophonous with 'strike it rich' (fa tsoi 發財) and 'great success' (daai ho si: 大好事). The Cantonese have a number of dishes which you will seldom see on restaurant menus, because if you are not Chinese you might balk, and if you don't understand their language, you wouldn't get the pun, wordplay, or joke. These usually show up at family celebratory events, especially Chinese New Year.

[Hakka Chinese will frequently cook the black moss (a dried vegetable), and dried oysters with pigs trotters, for a similar wordplay good luck wish. Their version is usually tangy, and rich with collagen from the trotter: 發財就手 (getting richness in hand).]


臘腸 CHINESE SAUSAGE

Dried Cantonese sausage (lahp cheung: 臘腸) can be used on its own, simply fried or steamed, but is more often used in small amounts sliced, to add fragrance and a little meaty fatness to other dishes, such as steamed chicken buns, joong ("Chinese tamale", a glutinous rice cone with fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed 粽), lo mai gai, and many stirfried dishes. The casing can be removed easily if you blanch it. The sausage is made from fat and lean pork coarse chopped, sweetened, dried, and sometimes slightly smoked. Some versions have duck liver included for richness - yun cheung (膶腸).
The ones I bought were made by Orchard Sausages, Inc. in Brooklyn.
I've never tried this brand before, but they look very nice, and have a springiness to the touch.


五香粉 FIVE SPICE POWDER

Five Spice Powder is a prepared spice mixture much used in Chinese cooking, especially so by Hakka Chinese and in some northern cooking styles. It is also popular in Cantonese cuisine, but as a far more minor addition. The key thing you will notice is the fragrance of anise - both from star anise (baat gok: 八角) and fennel seeds (siu woei heung: 小茴香). The other components are cinnamon (kwai pei: 桂皮), Szechuan pepper (fa-chiew: 花椒) and clove (ding heung: 丁香). All of which may be purchased whole, as many people do. The five spice combination really brings out the flavour of fatty meats and roasts, and can be used much like the French quatre epics in charcuterie. No red-stew is complete without at least a hint of star anise.


雪梨香 SUUT LEI HEUNG

After also buying some vegetables and condiments not easily available outside of Chinatown, there was only one thing left to purchase: Snow Pear Fragrance (suut-lei heung: 雪梨香).
This is an incense which I particularly like, which renders a dry floral woodsiness to the air. Very pleasant. Scholarly, but not too much.

It has one added advantage - it discourages mosquitoes.

You see, since we are no longer a couple, Savage Kitten and I do not sleep together anymore.
She sleeps in her room, I rest in mine. And because mosquitoes really like her, she uses a mosquito net I purchased for her a few years ago around her bed at this time of year.
While mosquitoes do not like me (see unappetizing pasty skin mentioned above), they will eat me if nothing else is available. So, being too lazy to put up my own mosquito net, I prefer to discourage their presence in my room by lighting a little snow pear fragrance. The net result is that they do not hang around, but instead head on over to the room where a delicious juicy young lady with golden skin is just about oozing deliciousness.
Behind an impenetrable mosquito net. Bzzz, bzzz, bzzzz!
I feel for them.
I am vicariously enjoying their frustration.

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NOTE: 唔該你 M KOI NEY

The non-English phrase in the title of this post means 'please', 'thank you', and often also 'excuse me' in Cantonese. When requesting service or a portion of something, you say 'm-koi', when you wish to thank someone for giving you what you asked for you say it, when politely trying to get through a crowd of people on Stockton Street or Grant you say it.
It literally means "you needn't". Really, there is no obligation.
For 'please' used invitationally, the formal word is 'cheng' (請), for a more proper 'thank you', say 'doh-jeh' (多謝), and for 'excuse me', deui m-chew (對唔住) or rarely satkeng (失敬).
You are welcome, in Cantonese, is 'm-sai m-koi (唔使唔該), literally meaning "there is no need to m-koi".

The reason why I appended m-koi to the title of this post is that in only a few short hours on Stockton Street, Jackson, and Washington, I probably said it over a hundred times.
It is the most useful phrase in the English language.



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