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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

OLD-FASHIONED ROMANTIC

One of my acquaintances, familiar with the loss of romance in my life, suggested I use social networking sites to advertise my availability.

He went on to recommend several options I had never heard of.
In addition to Facebook.

Facebook I've heard of.

On what planet do people use Facebook to find dates?


YEAH MAN, FACEBOOK IS MY PIMP!

While I am usually open to zany suggestions, I have to turn this idea down.
My Facebook friends, overwhelmingly, are not the kind of people I would date.
No offense, guys.
If I were a single Jewish woman with a college degree, some of them would be very tempting prospects, lovely trimmed beards and all.
Heck, quite a number of them even have smicha!

[No, that isn't a disease, it simply means that they are musmachim.]



But that tells you what the problem is right there. None of my Facebook friends are in my ballpark. And the prospect of saying "hey baby baby baby" to someone electronically is not nearly as tempting as the idea of stuttering like an idiot and blushing fiercely while shooting myself in the foot during a disastrous face to face conversation with a real person, who is actually female, in real life.

I'm fairly certain that none of those bearded gentlemen on FB is a female, in real life.
I think I would know.
Their internet honesty is commendable.
Unhelpful, but utterly commendable.

The other problem is that my Facebook persona is also..... unhelpful.
I use Facebook to jot down notes or warehouse amusing clips, as well as to comment on other people's situations.
What impression could a potential date get from a series of eccentric music clips and superficial comments?

"This man listens to funky stuff and can't hold a conversation"

"This man has ADD and really strange friends"

"This man loves frogs"



Any woman who feels herself attracted to that may need help.

I would be far more likely to consider someone who reads my blog. But given that I've gibbered here about cooking zebras, smoking a pipe, and eating noodles, plus dumping hot sauce or rivulets of ghee on everything and everyone, that, too, might be an iffy proposition.
Irrespective of their thoughts about my own (lovely) trimmed beard.
It would almost certainly have to be someone with a high tolerance for interesting foods, smelly tobacco, and ghee.
Hot sauce, and ghee.
Much ghee.


So far no one has taken the bait.
Nor is it likely that anyone will.



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Monday, January 30, 2012

THE MEAL TO OPEN THE NEW YEAR, AND OTHER CULINARY DETAILS

A few days after the beginning of Chinese New Year (春節), many families and criminal gangs will hold a festive meal to officially start everything on a good footing. Depending on their cultural background, families will do this anywhere between the third day and fifteenth, frequently on the fourth, fifth, or seventh day.
It might be vegetarian (Buddhists), include dumplings (Northerners), or feature tossed fish salad (Singaporean).


SAVAGE KITTEN'S FESTIVE MEAL

Since her mom's illness, my roommate has taken it upon herself to prepare the food and get all of her siblings together at their old home, in order that traditions be maintained and the sense of family strengthened.

What that means is that this past weekend, I had scant access to our kitchen, as she was more or less going ape in there, cooking tons of stuff to shlepp over to the family homestead. She's actually a very good cook. But the start-the-year meal is special.
And, of course, the relations between siblings can be quite fraught.
The Cantonese live at a more frenetic pace than most people.
Certainly more so than phlegmatic Dutchmen.
Suffice to say that she was 'tense'.

I myself have never actually been at one of these feasts, as I wasn't family even when we were more closely involved. So I've just never been included.
Nor am I even remotely Chinese! Kwailos are SO discordant!
Come to think of it, I don't really have family.
Sure, relatives - but they're far away.
I've experienced it vicariously.
Like most family events.


開年飯 'OPEN (THE) YEAR RICE'

Being a bachelor now, my dining habits have lost consistency and regularity. There is no incentive to adhere to a schedule, and nobody who insists that sensible decisions about nutrition are made.
Nor is dinner the pleasant sociable event it once was.
I seldom eat at home anymore - eating in solitude isn't appetizing - so on weekends I head in to Chinatown to find something tasty yet convenient.
On Saturday I didn't get hungry till nearly nightfall, when I went over to the San Sun Restaurant on Washington Street and ordered one of my favourites: rice stick noodles in broth with grilled pork (燒猪肉河粉 siu chü yiuk ho fan). Plus a glass of Vietnamese ice-coffee (凍咖啡奶 tung kafei nai).
The fresh coffee dripping in one glass, the ice in another.

By the time the food came, the coffee was ready, but before pouring it into the taller glass I scooped half of the ice into the hot soup to cool it down.
After cutting up the thin grilled pork to pieces large enough to fold over when grasped with chopsticks, condiments came into play.
Big splurt Sriracha hotsauce. Small squeeze of Hoisin. Tablespoonful of chilipepper fried in oil. That last was probably not a very sensible thing to do, even if the results are terrific. You see, the oil keeps the pips smoothly coated, so you don't notice how hot they are.
I like the silken gloss the chili-oil gives to the hot-salty-sweet mixture of Sriracha and Hoisin. Very delicious!

Lift noodles to mouth with chopsticks, slurp soup from spoon, then reach over and swab a piece of meat through the sauce.
Soft smooth rice-stick, fragrant soup with scallion and cilantro, zesty protein.
Repeat. Save the fattiest bits of pork for last.
Then drink the remaining broth.
Dawdle over coffee.
Pleasure.


BAD DECISIONS WERE MADE THIS WEEKEND

Saturday and Sunday could have been better-planned as far as food and drink was concerned.
You see, after the excellent meal at San Sun, I went to the office, and had several cups of tea while there.
At nine-thirty I headed over to the Occidental to smoke a few pipes.
By closing time I had had two whiskies, and three cups of coffee.

Ten hours since breakfast-dinner. After the Vietnamese coffee at San Sun, the five cups of tea at the office, and more coffee at the Occidental, I am wired to the tits.
It's now three in the morning.
And I am hungry.


You know, you can make VERY interesting snacks with Pepperidge Farm Verona Cookies, spicy dried pork sausage, and another cookie on top. The slice of pork sausage fits so nicely onto the dollop of preserve in the middle of the Verona, and the stickiness will hold it in place. All you need is another cookie to cover that, so that you don't get pork fat on your finger tips......
It doesn't even matter what the top cookie is. Genevas (with a layer of chocolate and crumbled nuts) are not as good as Shortbread, Tahiti (a layer of chocolate between two coconut macaroon-type thingies) are too much of a good thing, but the Home Style Lemon Cookies are REALLY GOOD! It's fabulous.
I experimented with various combinations for over an hour.
There are several hot sauces in the fridge.
Some oilier than others.

Fast forward to Sunday during the day. By the time I woke up, my digestive organs had entirely stripped the protective oil from the pips of the fried chilies mentioned above. The spicy pork sausage and cookies were playing havoc in my stomach. And Savage Kitten was in the final lap of preparing food in the kitchen to take over to the family home.
She was on a very tight schedule. So in order not to jinx anything, I held off on visiting the bathroom till she had left the apartment.
I held off. And held off. And held off. And held off.
Don't want to be in there right when she needs it.

Didn't feel well-enough to eat till long past tea-time.
Ended up having some chow mein.
With hot sauce.


The problem with bachelor dining habits is that bad decisions will be made.



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Sunday, January 29, 2012

VISITING THE GARBAGE DUMP

Occasionally I go to my junk filter to see what exciting messages I may have missed.
I am seldom disappointed by what I find.
I have low standards and amuse easily.


SPAM STOPPED IN MID-FLIGHT


The following e-mail messages were stuck in the filter today. Other than keenly taking note of their subject lines, I repressed temptation.

"Britney throws off top"
Tell her to put it back on. No one cares.

"This is not a myth"
It's a mythter? Congratulation on your theckth change!

"Must-Buy Stocks for Massive Healthy Plays"
Oooh, it'th tho BIG and THECK-THY!

"Vaigiara 4 mens"
Not enough for a minyen. Need at least 6 more Vaigiara mens.

"lovemaking video"
Shelve in the 'self help' section. Sell at cost.

"Porn stars secret"
They're stockbrokers during the day.

"Funny naked girls"
Fox Broadcasting has sunk to a new low?

"Top rated hcg diet drops @ HCG Buy Direct, as seen on TV!"
Good reason not to watch TV!

"What are you waiting for?"
The coming zombie apocalypse. What about you?

"Child actress Abigail Breslin turns bad"
Time to throw her out then.

"Tell A Friend: Don't Erase Slavery From the History Books!"
None of my friends erase from books.

"John Mulaney Is New In Town"
Welcome John, buy our tourist crap, go away.

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.

"HCG Diet Drops"
Off the face of the planet? Go away.

"The death of diesel & the ONE STOCK to play it"
One stock to bind it all, and in the darkness slay it. Sorry, you were saying?

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.

"Cumming has never been stronger"
Not interested in football. Go away.

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.

"Exotic asian women bares all"
'Women' is a plural, dipwad. Go away.

"Smell sweeter below the belt"
Hello Kitty Crotch Spray?

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.

"Ass rimming the easy way"
I do not currently own a donkey.

"Experience new levels of pleasure"
Not into car-chase video games. Go away.

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.

"Blue-Chip Champs Stomping the Market"
I'm thrilled. Go away.

"COCKZILLA is the word"
Darn those Japanese!

"Amazing orgasm always"
Orgasms are pretty amazing without your help.

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.

"Turn her into a pleasure machine"
Resist the BORG!

"Hard to resist bonus offers at CVC"
You guys are a bunch of idiots. Go away.


Sex, dieting, and stocks.
It used to be breast augmentation, handbags, toupees, end of times romance novels, liposuction, and penis pumps.
So in some ways the internet's mental image of me has improved!

Still waiting for the spam aimed specifically at middle-aged Dutch American men of normal height and weight, with healthy heads of hair, who have no problems with their own fairly straight and unimaginative sexuality, no pressing need to find strange naked ladies on the internet, no dieting plans, no gambling problems, who are absolutely not into football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, or wrestling.
Stocks don't excite me. But several authors do.
I refuse to read apocalyptic end of times romances about some pale Christian virgin in the Mid-West waiting for her Christian boyfriend who is the military to come back from an un-Christian place before the flames descend from the sky, the rivers run red, the beast from Revelations destroys civilization, and all good Christians get pulled up to heaven naked leaving their socks behind.
I will not buy designer handbags.


Please, send me junk mail about pipe tobacco and brilliant Chinese American women living in San Francisco who need someone with whom to eat dinner and share books.
Any message entitled "Mei Hong loves the manly smell of Latakia" will get my complete attention! I promise!
E-mail about 'Hello Kitty Virginia Non-Filters' probably too.

Keep trying, boys. Eventually you'll get it right.


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OUR NEW NATIONAL BIRD

Thanks to Tzipporah, I discovered a blog that I read only sporadically.
I don’t read it often, because the author makes me jealous.
There are times when I wish I could write like her.
She writes very nicely.

Sweet, and divinely inspired.
Like when she talks about ducks.


Specifically, a vampire killing baby duck in a top hat.


MARTIN VAN BUREN
That's a beautiful mind at work.
There isn't a vampire alive who would suspect a duck. They'd see this adorable little fellow approaching and think "ooooh, a cuddly little fuzzy-wuzzy birdie, I'm SO gonna pet it!" Then they'd bend over with a silly grin, ready for mega *CUTE*, and promptly get a stake slammed through the heart.


Thwack!

The concept is genius.
When the vampire apocalypse finally happens, as inevitably it must, our best chance of beating the bloodsuckers is an army of trained and determined ducklings and their stylish head-gear.
America will be safe, thanks to our friends.

Bonus: cuteness supernova!

Then we eat them.

I'm not going to ask why they're all named Martin van Buren.

Now, go read The Blogess.


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

CAN I TEMPT YOU?

One of the things told about Jim Morrison, the singer for The Doors, is that once on a Greyhound bus crossing the country he noticed a winsome ten or eleven year old girl seated across the aisle, and to pass the time began complimenting her in a rather degenerate way.

"Mah hevvins, little gurl, you shore are purdy!"


This was primarily for the 'benefit' of the bus driver, who was getting more and more disturbed at what he heard going on behind him.

And again:

"You shore are puuurdy, little girl! Mah hevvins!"


This went on for a few minutes, till the driver angrily stopped the vehicle and threatened to throw him off for being a creep. In his normal voice, Jim talked the man down and back into a reasonable state, and promised that he'd behave for the rest of the trip.
The bus started up again.
Then, five minutes later.....


"Jayzus, doll, you is SINFUL purrrdy!"


This, you will understand, is pure perversity, though somewhat justified; rolling across the Great American Outback with a bunch of middle-Americans calls for creative self-entertainment.
Startle them and give them something to talk about back in Podunk.
What with the era, and who he was, one cannot be sure of his intentions.


I, on the other hand, am a decent man.
While I appreciate the sick humour of what Jim Morrison was doing, I myself would not push that envelope.
My tastes are entirely clean and wholesome.

"Miss, do you want to hold my pipe?"


One of my longtime fantasies is that there is a nice young woman who wishes to learn more about briars, tobaccos, and the pleasure of smoking a pipe.
It's NOT as strange as it may seem.
I myself was still quite young when I first lit up.
And the idea of a female person acquiring the habit is magic.

A confident woman should have a mysterious smoky air about her.
Polished wood, sparkling eyes, glowing smile, and a resinous fragrance.
I've always been appalled how few women think of a pipe as the perfect accessory.

For someone who decides to seriously try the habit, there are three truly excellent tobaccos to recommend.
Each of them contains Latakia, Turkish, and flue-cured tobacco, and they all have an intriguing complexity.


BLUE MOUNTAIN
This one is the heaviest, with a rich layering of flavours supplementing the assertive smokiness of the Latakia. Packed and smoked properly, it presents a glorious richness appropriate for brisk evenings.
Formulated by Mike McNeil.

THREE OAKS SYRIAN
A tobacco that became famous a few years ago among those in the know. Spicy, yet extremely well-balanced. This is a wonderful product of which I'm very fond. Splendid after dinner, or out in the garden with a cup of tea.
Formulated by Ted Gage.

WILDERNESS
A medium-full English blend, and likely the quietest of this selection. Smooth, satisfying, and well-suited to the contemplative type. It's what you really need while pouring over textbooks or devouring mystery novels.
Formulated by Fred Hanna.

[Latakia is a fire-cured tobacco with a smoky leathery pong which cools down the taste. Turkish is a resinous leaf that lends fragrance. Virginia, often called 'flue-cured', has a sweetness that complements the other two types in mixtures like these.]


All three of these blends are manufactured by McClelland Tobacco Company in Kansas City, Missouri. If not available at a local tobacconist, you can purchase them via the internet from Cup O Joes or Pipes and Cigars.
Together they represent an excellent comparative spectrum of their type.
No lady could go wrong with these mixtures.


Of course, all beginning pipe-smokers need a bit of guidance. And it helps if there are several pipes in which they can try out tobaccos, which often is not the case when one first begins the journey. The initial outlay is rather a commitment.
I should mention that I have a surfeit of smoking equipment of various shapes and sizes. There's scope for experimentation, and I'm not averse to loaning a pipe out to someone nice.

"My heavens, ma'am, your tobacco sure smells good."


I suspect, however, that if I suggested any of this to a female person, she would smack me viciously with a frou-frou purse before calling the cops.

I don't have much faith in the younger generation, or in modern society.
They just don't seem to have any standards anymore.
And such uninteresting tastes!
It's sad, really.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Friday, January 27, 2012

BEAN SPROUT ECHO

We all have foods that awaken memories. Some dishes, because of many different associations, have a resonance that makes our enjoyment transcend the mere taste alone, uplifting both the ingredients and the experience.

Often these are very simple things, which we don't often think of, and sometimes go for months without eating.

[NOTE: This post is brought to you by yesterday's lunch. Not by Roast Duck, not by Dimsum, not even by Pear Kugel, but by simple take-out food hastily chosen. It was a fortuitous choice. I could have had the halibut instead, but I'm glad I didn't.]



CHOW FUN

A dish available at almost any Cantonese restaurant that caters to office-workers during lunch, and in itself quite simple: chow fun (炒粉) - fried ribbon noodles.
All that's really required are broad flat rice flour noodles made by cutting up steamed plain cheung fan, plus bean sprouts, scallion, and just a little soy sauce. Often beef is added, but it isn't really essential. Other meats can be used instead.

[Note: to make the noodles at home, follow the cheung fan batter recipe here:
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/11/left-over-turkey-cheung-fan-rice-flour.html
, pouring it out onto the steaming platter thinner than normal, with no filling added. Then cut it into broad strips. They can also be purchased in Chinatown, but may be hard to find elsewhere.]

The key to the dish is timing and heat. The noodles should be unripped, the scallion not browned, the beansprouts perfectly crisp and sweet. It takes a deft hand and a hot pan to do it right.
Good results are heaven, bad results should be tipped into the garbage and not sent out to the customer.
And yes, it really IS something you would be better off not preparing at home, so I shan't even assay a recipe. There are no fail-safe instructions. Get it at a restaurant instead.

It was very good. Perfect aroma too. I wonder if they can do that consistently at the place where I got that portion, or whether it was a fluke.
Obviously I'll have to have it again.


I'll also have to find a place where I can get char kway teow. Probably not anywhere near the financial district, though, as 炒粿條 is pretty much unknown in the United States.
Might even have to make it at home.
I'm very particular about what I like.
Shrimp paste, scallion, bean sprouts, shrimp, soy sauce, pork fat, egg.
Ginger and garlic.
Plus a little chopped ham or charsiu.
With a hefty squeeze of lime juice and a dollop of sambal on the plate.

If I make it, it will be more than one person can eat. Reason being that one egg in a single serving, with the shrimp and porky bits added, presents too much of a good thing. And I do not like to leave half-eggs in the fridge.

Maybe chopped roast duck instead of ham or charsiu.
Still leaves the same problem with the egg.


One plate Char kway teow, with a frothy green drinkie.
Fairly sure that's as close to heaven as you can get.


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

LUCK IN A DRAGON YEAR

An anonymous reader sent me a message using the “letterbox” at the tail of each post.
Obviously, he or she was reading the entry about Chinese New Year and the cleaning which must take place beforehand.

QUOTE:
Help. I am of Irish descent and am aware of most culture celebrations even though I do not celebrate so yesterday Chinese new year on the 23rd I cleaned out my ex's belongings from my house, vacuumed his area and then showered to cleanse myself but then a friend called & freaked that I cannot clean, throw out trash or bath on the first day. How can I reverse this curse. We tried to justify that I did not clean my house but his dirt out. Help, I cannot afford anymore bad luck. Today a van scratched my vehicle. Nothing major but I hope I am not cursed... Thanks

END QUOTE.


I wouldn't worry about it too much. You've already started the year on a different track by getting rid of his detritus, and in the same way that he's out of your life, you've entered a new phase.
Perhaps the switch from one year to the next prompted this, more likely it is time to just move on.

I'm assuming that the breakup was not exactly amicable.
So there's little point in keeping stuff around long after he's gone.

The main reason for a lot of the Chinese New Year practices is to start afresh with all obligations taken care of; the symbolisms are of fortune, comfort, and happiness.
Hence cleaning beforehand, putting on new clothing, giving and receiving red envelopes, plus citrus fruits, candies - in hopes that the next year will be one of surfeit and enough money to take care of the good things in life along with the mental equilibrium to enjoy them.

Many people wish for prosperity, others look forward to success, and some folks simply want everything to continue as it is..... albeit more so.


By making ready for the new year, one is symbolically taking the initiative to have the next twelve months turn out well. Rituals are good ways of preparing oneself mentally for changes, but in very real terms they actually do not have much effect.

The dragon year is supposed to be excellent for business.
Probably also for starting a new relationship.
But all efforts are still up to you.
There are no shortcuts.
Nor amulets.


You could also apply principles of fengshui (風水) if you're really worried about the good luck / bad luck thing.
Frankly speaking, twirling around widdershins at midnight would be much more fun and just as useful.
Symbols are important, but they're just symbols; not facts.
I would suggest just taking an extra day off.
Or having a nice meal by yourself.
It will improve your mood.
That's a first step.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A FAIR ESTIMATION OF BOBBY BURNS AND HAGGIS

This evening, probably dozens of people will gather all over the world to commemorate Robert Burns, a versifier whose paltry talents encompassed alliteration and mispronunciation in near-equal nauseating measure.
Some of them will look like Mel Gibson in his madder moments.
Their faces will be painted partially blue.
And they will snarf sheep guts.


BURNS NIGHT


The famous Scots doggerel-meister was born on January 25th.
Seven years after he died, friends gathered to celebrate his life.
As indeed, many misguided Caledonians still do today.
This dubious objective is best achieved by eating haggis.
Which is one of the most monstrous things ever invented.

The Scots produce the finest woolens, tobaccos, and whiskeys.
And there are many wonderful foods in Scotland as well.
So the only logical explanation for haggis is a sado-masochistic streak a mile wide.
That also explains the deep-fried Snickers bars, btw.


Haggis is made by taking lamb 'plucks' (heart, lungs, liver - called 'plucks' because they can be yanked whole out of the animal carcass) and boiling them for several hours, then chopping them fine, adding oatmeal and onion, and finally stuffing the resultant ghastly pulp into a cleaned lamb stomach. After several hours of further steaming, this unmentionable object is brought forth from the incubation room while loud bagpipe music is played.
In order to swallow even a mouthful, you must get drunk first.
Strike that...
Drunk before, drunker during, and totally blotto after.

Vegetarian versions made with tofu are marginally less edible.


I prepared haggis once. The black muck that dripped out of the windpipe which hung over the rim of the cauldron while boiling the lungs fair made me sick.
Apparently it was a damned good haggis too, but I do not regret not eating any part of it.
Fortunately it wasn't my kitchen, or I'd have burned the house down.
Or at least gotten rid of the pots used to prepare the horror.

We invaded Irak for far less reason.
So the Scots had better watch out.


Philosophically, haggis makes complete sense. Especially if you're a Presbyterian, a Puritan, or a sour old prune.
Nice warm woolens? A very good thing.
Bagpipe music? Also a good thing.
Whisky? A mighty good thing!
Haggis provides a necessary contrast to all three of those that will keep you from sinning. There is NO danger of enjoying too much of a good thing when haggis is present. In fact, an excess of haggis will make you wake up screaming every night from the memories.

The quantity must be precisely calibrated to provide the perfect counterpoint.
In my humble estimation, being in the same county as a haggis is plenty.
Anything more, like inhaling the steam or even standing near it, is too much.

Reports indicate that eating haggis makes your voice go up several octaves.
Perfect for Bobby Burn's crappy poetry or the chipmunk song.
Problem is, it's likely to be permanent.


Let's hope that Scotland eventually produces a far better poet, so that we may soon celebrate that man's demise with good whisky, and finally eating something tasty, like partan bree.
Even smoked haddock, crappit head, or Cullen skink.
Anything but haggis!



AFTERTHOUGHT


Massive quantities of whisky will NOT get the taste of that nasty Pictish gut spackle out of one's mouth, or erase the trauma from one's subconscious.
Not even Ardbeg, which smells exactly like run-off from the Tracy tire fire. Ardbeg is a truly excellent Scotch with a horrific flavour which proves my contention that the Scots are sado-masochists.
I cannot think of a better made undrinkable product.

Well, possibly Red Stag could be worse.
But no one sentient touches that.
Nascar fans, perhaps.



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BENEFITS OF LIVING ON A PACIFIC ISLAND

I pointed out to a friend that there are great advantages to living far from the hurly burly of civilization.
Specifically, thousands of miles from the nearest freeway.


Gefilte fish! One can make gefilte fish with reef fish!
Gefilte fish and challah...... breakfast of champions!


This pursuant a mention of the beautiful pacific island nation of Palau.

Her reaction was not as positive as one might have hoped.

Quote:
Giant flying cockroaches the size of a human thumb.
Lizards on the ceiling.
Whimsical electric power.
Grey chocolate at astronomic prices
2 months to get mail.
No phone for a full year.
Getting a wisdom tooth pulled in a third world dental clinic!

End quote.

Well, yes, those ARE valid issues, I grudgingly admit.
But they do have beer there, and interesting things in the grocery store with which to experiment.
Not only Spam.
Other stuff.

Didn't you at one point try fermented tofu?


I also have it on good authority that the local fauna can go straight into the soup tureen for dinner. So there's no dearth of protein sources.
A balanced diet is almost guaranteed!


ROUSETTE À LA PALAUÂNE

From a friend comes this scrumptious dish sure to be a crowd pleaser at any party - braised fruitbat in tomato and coconut milk with garlic and ginger, black peppercorns, and a dash of palm wine vinegar.
Serve with boiled rice, and some cassava croquettes on the side.
It's a feast!
[Note: modified from the original, to fit your healthy Pacific lifestyle.]

One fruitbat, cut into eight pieces.
One large onion, thinly sliced.
3 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed.
1 thumblength smashed ginger,
½ Tbs. whole Ponape pepper corns.
½ tsp. each: paprika, ground cumin.
4 Tbs. olive oil, plus one extra tablespoon.
1 can (14 ounces) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped.
1 cup chicken stock.
1 cup coconut milk.
2 Tbs. palm vinegar (sukang paombong, available at Philippino stores).
Salt to taste.

Rinse the bat well and pat the pieces dry. Combine the garlic, ginger, paprika, and cumin in a bowl, with one tablespoon of olive oil. Rub this mixture all over the meat, and leave to penetrate for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat the four tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add the onion slices, fry golden and translucent. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the bat to the pan and fry on low heat till lightly browned. Return the onion to the pan, add the pepper corns, stir in the tomato and stock, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for forty five minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and add the palm vinegar. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for a further fifteen minutes or so, until the fruitbat is tender and the sauce has thickened.
Garnish with some fresh cilantro, and serve.


Alternatively, the following sophisticated treatment is sure to please visiting mainlanders, and impress them with the high standards of your kitchen.


CHRISTIAN MISSION STEWED BAT

One fruitbat, cut into eight pieces.
One onion, chopped.
Two rashers of bacon, chopped.
3 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed.
1 thumblength ginger, smashed.
2 cups chicken stock.
1 cup dry red wine.
1 tsp. brown sugar.
½ tsp. each: dried rosemary, dried thyme.
2 or 3 bay leaves.
Dash of Tabasco.
Salt and ground pepper.

Rinse the bat well and pat the pieces dry. Cook the bacon evenly brown in a large skillet. Drain on paper towels and reserve. Sprinkle your bat with salt and pepper, brown it in the rendered bacon fat. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Fry the onions, garlic, and ginger in the skillet for about 4 minutes, until tender. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Stir in wine and chicken stock. Raise to boil, then stir in sugar, rosemary and thyme, and add the bay leaves and the dash of Tabasco. Return both the bat and the bacon to skillet. When it boils, reduce the heat to low and let simmer about an hour or until the fruit bat is tender.

With a slotted spoon remove the fruitbat pieces from the skillet to a platter. Discard the bay leaves.

The cooking liquid can either be cooked down till velvety as a sauce, or two tablespoons light brown roux can be stirred in to make a gravy.

Serve over boiled rice, with a crisp green salad on the side.
Cabernet is appropriate, or even a robust Pinot Noir.
Merlot is easily overwhelmed by this hearty dish.


FURTHER COOKING WITH BATS

You could als do a Country Captain with fruitbat, and many other American regional recipes can be adapted for memorable dining.
However, Southern fried fruitbat is NOT a good idea.
Try them grilled with barbecue sauce instead.
Aux baies de genièvre, or à l'estragon.
Excellent fricasseed Cajun-style.
Jambalaya or étouffée?
Experiment!



NOTE: some folks might object that fruitbats look too cute, they couldn't possibly eat such lovable and cuddly creatures! How heartrending!
That explains why you should disguise the animal first.
Perhaps this way: "dressed for success".
Cooking is a creative process.
Bon appétit!



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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BETTER FOR YOUR SKIN - A GENTLE MAIDEN LIGHTLY DUSTED WITH DRIED RAISINS AND CRUNCHY BITS!

Underneath a recent post, someone left an intriguing comment: “What, no sugared wahinis?”

I like the concept. Wahini is the Hawaiian word for woman.
Please imagine a female Polynesian person of attractive hue and proportion, delicately dusted with confectioner's sugar.

Looks scrumptious, doesn't it?


SUGARED WAHINIS

My reaction to that comment was in its own way not entirely sane.
Possibly due to the first flush of morning caffeination.
Two strong cups of coffee and a cup of tea.
I was zipped to the eye-brows.
More normal now.

"Or perhaps (dare I hope!), bright young ladies slathered in ghee and honey, ooooh baby baby, with a sprinkling of almonds, crumbled pistachio, saffron essence, powdered cardamom, and rose petals? With very little else?"

See, that there is just too much. Both almonds AND pistachios? Either one or the other, not both. Same goes for the saffron essence and the cardamom.
The rose petals are only a garnish, but because they would undoubtedly adhere to the stickiness, and get soggy from the honey and ghee, not such a bright idea.
Good thing rose petals are edible.

And on thinking about it, I would actually prefer that the young lady be tastefully dressed.
Nude and slathered with ghee and honey rather limits the conversational and social options.
Additionally, the clean-up after being visited by a young lady slathered in ghee and honey (and crumbled nuts) is likely to be nightmarish.
One needn't clean up after sensibly dressed people.

So I retract the suggestion. It was unwise from the get-go.

Slathering a young lady should be a result decided upon by both parties involved, after mature discussion and reflection, and only once all necessary precautions (festive tarpaulin, privacy, and buckets of soapy water, plus handi-wipes) have been arranged. Only then.
Young lady slathering is a possible end game.
Not a good starting point.

If she's slathered from the beginning, all further developments are rather predictable, and both parties are pretty much committed to a very sticky afternoon.
Admittedly including ghee, which is very good.
Still, with all that honey too!
It attracts flies.

The other thing that comes to mind is that with the climate we have in San Francisco, she would probably want to be fully clothed in any case. Baby, it's cold outside! So it's also a question of being warm and comfortable, versus cold, sticky, and shivering in the rain.
Slathering, of any type, will have to wait till spring.
Plus honey and ghee (or molasses and Crisco) will likely drive your dry-cleaning bill through the roof if you slather BEFORE the weather is decent.


As a sane and common-sense alternative, I propose tossing a handful of trail-mix at an attractive well-dressed woman instead.
It's just as exciting, and far healthier.
Much cleaner, too.


I would be most keen to hear my readers' thoughts on this matter.
Naked skin, honey, ghee, almonds and pistachios?
Or warm clothing and trail-mix?
No slathering.


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Monday, January 23, 2012

CHINESE NEW YEAR HAPPINESS

Today is day one of Chinese New Year. Over the weekend, my roommate, who is Chinese American, insisted that I clean up my clutter and contribute to making the apartment sparkle.

Sparkle, of course, is a relative term.

She stated that if I didn't do so, it would be extremely bad luck.

In order to prepare for the lunar new year, it is customary to do all sweeping, washing, and polishing beforehand, so that for the next few days at least one is not tempted to symbolically eject good luck from the dwelling along with detritus. Even touching a broom is considered dangerous.
Additionally, one should have happy things on hand to add to the festive atmosphere: red decorations, citrus fruits, candies.
These are omens of joy and prosperity.
Avoid ill-fortune in all things

As you may note, not cleaning the house before the new year is not unlucky, but doing so during the new year period is.
I told her as much, and indicated that I was perfectly willing to not do any cleaning whatsoever for the entire two week period. If it depended on me, we would have no bad luck at all.
I could assure her of this.
The "mess" would be undisturbed for the duration.

Mm.


CLEANING


Most of the day yesterday I was busily tidying up and scrubbing the main room, and making considerable headway. As I was finishing the task after dinner, she took a bath. Bathing, too, is considered bad luck on the first day or two, as one could wash off new year's good fortune, and flush wealth down the drain.
While she bathed, I was on the floor removing odds and ends.

After the bath she scooted down the hall to her room.
Only when it was far too late did she notice me on the floor in a direct line of sight.

"Aaaack! You were NOT supposed to see me naked!"

"Oh, I don't mind."

"Hmmmph!!!"


We used to be romantically involved with each other. Now we simply live together as friends.
Why should I mind accidental exposure?
It's a nice view.

That too is exceptionally good luck for the new year.


Later she admonished me to wash my dishes, even the spoons I had used for tea.

"So we can leave stuff in the sink tomorrow, and be as dirty as we want to be."

"I can do that."

"I know!"


In case you were wondering, she also bathed this morning, having plumb forgotten about the restriction.
No, I was not in a direct line of sight, as I was attending to my 'festive first cup of coffee' of the year.

I also showered today. But that is because MY superstition holds that going to work all smelly and unshaven is extremely bad luck.


* * * * *

I wish all my readers a happy new year and tons of good fortune.
May lots of wealth and happiness come your way.
Good luck and get fabulously rich.
新年快樂, 萬事如意!


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

SEE THIS NOW: CANTONESE GIRLS IN SAN FRANCISCO, WOMBATS IN THONGS, PALE FAT FISH, AND OTHER THINGS

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may be wondering what kind of person writes this garbage.
Who is ‘At The Back of the Hill’ (ATBOTH), and what goes on in his mind?
Is he really both sanity-challenged AND the club bore?

Yes.

Affirmative to all of the above.


AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS

The short version is that I was born in Hawthorne General Hospital via a Caesarian in 1959, spent slightly over two years in El Secundo (Southern California), and then we all moved to the Netherlands. My father, who was a WWII Royal Canadian Air Force bomber pilot and an aeronautical engineer; my mother, a former radioman in the Waves (women serving in the US Navy during WWII) and a language scholar; my brother, a bright young man who was four years old at the time; and myself, a loud two-and-a-half year old whose most memorable accomplishment up till then had been pissing in my father's eye when he changed my diapers.

[I heard about the eye-pissing incident several times, every year. So much that I have taken it and made it my own. Boastfully so. Yes. It was me. I did it. With great force and determination. Oh gallant bladder! Nu.]


After a few years in Bussum and Naarden, we moved to Valkenswaard, a lively village with cigar factories and a surfeit of drinking establishments near the Belgian border. There were other expats there, mostly Indo-Dutch exiles.
Other than a vibrant night life it was a culturally rather empty place. Despite my general distaste for much that is Dutch, because of Netherlandish attitudes towards Americans, I nevertheless think back fondly to the town. Some of the people there were marvelously insightful, human, and twisted.

When I was eighteen I returned to the United States, nominally to get an education. Dropped out of college in the eighties, worked first at a tobacconist, later as a draughtsman. For a while I was employed as a cashier and bookkeeper at an Indian restaurant. Have been doing credit and collections since the early nineties.

In the eighties and nineties I travelled a bit. South-East Asia mostly.
I've also visited Canada a couple of times and I've been back to the Netherlands.

I currently live within walking distance of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco Chinatown, and North Beach. Also Polk Street and the Tenderloin.
I often eat alone, though NOT by choice.
I am not as happy as I was a few years ago, but I am not bitter.
If anything at all, I am forward-looking.

Pipesmoker. Early fifties. Not overweight.
Somewhat multi-lingual, but let's not exaggerate it.
Animals I most identify with: Badgers, Toads, Raccoons, Crows, and Penguins. In exactly that order.


Favourite authors: Vladimir Nabokov. Somerset Maugham. Joyce Cary. Evelyn Waugh.
As well as J. P. Dunleavy, John Irving, Anthony Trollope, Jane Austen, and Wyndham Lewis. Plus Kipling and Simenon.


Are there any questions? Please note that there will NOT be a test.

Now, you may have seen various subjects on this blog that made you wonder: wombats, nudity, fish, tobacco, and food.


WOMBATS

Strictly a metaphor. Or an intellectual conceit of sorts.
Back in 2008, after a slew of comments by various people that prominently mentioned wombats, I wrote a post entitled now more wombat than ever, in which I presented what little I knew of the bad tempered marsupial. It was not enough. Later I wrote baggy boxers, where I cited one of my readers, who postulated that "The petite Asian schoolgirl blushed prettily when she realized the wombat had made off with her panties... what would she do, with an elderly rabbi about to arrive for Torah study (which, under no circumstances, would involve Jeebus)."
The mental image thus created is enchanting. Surely you too can imagine a rambunctious wombat gleefully stealing silken garments?
Throw in an aged Torah-scholar, a sweetly blushing young miss, and a lovely crisp autumn evening, and you have something very good indeed.

"The petite Asian schoolgirl blushed prettily when she realized the wombat had made off with her panties... what would she do, with an elderly rabbi about to arrive for Torah study (which, under no circumstances, would involve Jeebus)."


Jeebus, step away from the panties!

Pervert!

Wombats have cropped up here occasionally since then.
Most recently in 'a silken camisole'.
I still have not eaten one.


NUDITY

The bathing post, naked middle-aged white man, turned out to be a magnet. Since then, any number of people looking for naked middle-aged white men, naked middle-aged women, naked weightlifters, naked fat gangsters, and similar subjects, have happily pounced upon my blog, only to drift away disconsolately after realizing that there were no photos.
No, I will not put up a picture of anything in any way relating to these subjects. If you want to see a naked middle-aged white man, you shall have to be in my apartment when I take a bath. We can talk while I soak.

[I feel safe making this offer, as the vast majority of searches for 'Naked Middle-Aged White Men' originate in Australia, with the Gulf States a distant second, and Germany making up the remainder. Wombats and their kin are experiencing a drought of naked middle-aged white males - or it may be that the concept appeals to them on a multitude of esthetic levels - but no one else has quite the same burning itch.]


Other than that, nudity is sometimes mentioned, occasionally dwelt upon, but an unimportant theme overall.
I like nudity, and would like it to happen fairly frequently.
But there really isn't much to say about it.
Feel free to prove me wrong.


FISH

Actually, not fish so much as degenerates finding my blog by means of eccentric search criteria.
One of which shows them a seafood post.

Years ago I wrote in-depth about herring. Anyone who grew up in the Netherlands probably loves this fish.

The favoured version in the Netherlands is groene haring ('green herring'), which is nearly raw by American standards.

Curing is by removal of the gills, throat, and internal organs, with the exception of the alvlees klier ('pancreas'), whose enzymes will help tenderize the fish. Following that it is lightly salted and packed in a cold place to ripen.
The more salt is used, the longer it can be ripened.
The method used by the Dutch and Flemish for herring was discovered by Willem Beukelszoon Van Biervliet in 1380.

It is often served with chopped onions, or itself coarse chopped and incorporated in a salad (“gehakte haring”, “haring sla”), although fish-mongers also sell it breaded for pan-frying. Bread and herring is delicious.
If at a buffet, good rye bread, pickles, onions, and ice-cold Genever (Dutch-style gin) might be served alongside.

[ADDENDUM: The Japanese use herring and similar fish in sushi, most notably mackerel. Like herring, mackerel is fine and fatty, but while the meat of herring is rather buttery, that of mackerel is oily. There is, consequently, a profound difference in mouth-feel, especially when raw. Because of this, and differences in texture and density, the fish can spoil quickly; it must be eaten soon after capture.
For sushi, a very mild cure for the mackerel (to prolong edibility) is common. Taste-wise, it strongly echoes Dutch-style herring, which is also lightly cured. There is even a similarity of appearance, though the flesh looks softer and less glistensome, and has a yellower hue. It is close enough, and hence very nice.]



The 'tempting' post in question, fat green virgins, proved to be electric.
Just imagine what kind of customer was attracted by that name.
Since then other titles have ensnared their own fan clubs.

You can see the entire slew of fetishes here: PERVERT TAUNTING.

'Pervert taunting' is the label for a series of articles in which I entertain myself at the expense of unfortunate internet hogs.
I've enjoyed it. Maybe they have too.
If they have a sense of humour.


TOBACCO, AND FOOD

Both of these subjects have their own rubrics. Tobacco is best represented by TOBACCO INDEX, which contains a complete list of all tobacco-related posts, briefly described, with links to each article.

And food crops up all over the place.
Useful food labels are: FOOD, 真好食 (chan ho sik: good to eat), Chinese Food, My food, 菜譜 (choi pou: recipes), 雲吞 (wantan: won ton), 腸粉 (cheung fan: ricesheet noodle), and Indo food.

Many of the recipes are also posted on COOKING WITH A LIZARD, but not yet all. My intent is to eventually have all recipes posted there for useful reference, with links to the original article.


CANADA

A recurring theme, which I cannot explain. Don't live there, don't want to live there. They have ghastly beer, and I'm not a beer drinker anyway.
They also have tea.
We have that too.
Why Canada?


AFTER WORD

As far as what other subjects interest me, if they aren't anywhere on the blog itself, they're represented by the blogroll to the right. These are links to the sites of people who write well, and whose blogs I enjoy reading. Many of them are exceptionally knowledgeable.
Exceptions being of course the newspapers.

I'm always curious about my readers. Other than the regulars who have by their feedback given me a good idea what kind of people they are and what interests them (and thank you guys for your company and frequent wit and insight), I don't really know much about you.
Please leave comments, or contact me via my letterbox (below) to introduce yourselves.

Also feel free to ask me about other things you've seen here, or, if you wish to bring them to the attention of someone else, for a link to a post.



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Saturday, January 21, 2012

THOSE MANLY BUTTERFLIES IN THE SALES DEPARTMENT

When I called a customer in Miami about a past-due bill, he asked me what was new in San Francisco, and whether he would see me at the upcoming tradeshow in New York.
I have a good relationship with many of my customers. They understand that collection calls are a normal part of doing business, and many of them are fascinating intelligent people.
We've known each other for years, and get along well.

If you think about it, I get paid to read and yack on the phone all day.


THE FABULOUS TRADE SHOW

But I shall not be going to New York.
No one sends a beancounter cross-country when there are so many bright-eyed bushy-tailed salesmen who just love going to tradeshows in New York.
That's what they were born for.
And, truth be told, they are so much better at going to New York than us financial types, that it's a stroke of marvelous luck that there actually is a tradeshow there.
I don't know what they'd do otherwise.

While the sales dudes will, according to my customer in Miami, be ploughing through all the free champagne and caviar in between lighting up their expensive cherry-flavoured coronas and trading off-colour jokes, those of us left in San Francisco will be slowly gliding through the empty office with our steaming mugs of Celebes coffee or Keemun tea, dreamily humming to ourselves as we enjoy the silence.

It will be so quiet!

All the noisy people will be in New York.

The rest of us must enjoy this luxury while it lasts. Bring our fuzzy blankets, and perhaps a chafing dish to work. Barbecue a wild-animal caught on Market Street in an empty cubicle, leaving streaks of soot and drawings of the hunt in ochre, Sienna, and umber, on the walls.
Right next to the illustration boasting that "Kilroy was here".

How languorous, how peaceful!

Let us swan and flutter!

Should we light a bonfire in the conference room and dance madly?
While the sales dudes are in New York?
Should we take illicit intoxicants and engage in fits of wantonness?
While the sales dudes are in New York?
Should we put on amateur theatricals in which we all get to play the tragic heroine one after the other, men and women alike, wearing ribbons and pastel gossamers that trail behind us for romantic effect?
While the sales dudes are in New York?


Have a jolly time in New York, guys.
Enjoy the champagne and caviar.
And the flavoured stogies.

I hope it snows.


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Friday, January 20, 2012

THE ONE ON THE LEFT IS ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS!

A good friend has two bunny rabbits. Bunnies make excellent pets, in that they are warm and huggable, calm around children, and in all ways loveable.
Not these two.
They are rabbits from the dark side.
Well-versed in the depravity of Mordor and their liege Sauron.

Horrible creatures.
So far these monsters have wrecked several computers, chewed through priceless carpets and cardboard boxes, bullied the cat, and left dirty pots and pans in the kitchen.
These are not your momma’s bunnies, from the Beatrix Potter tales.


NICE BIG FUR BALL

Many years ago several of the ex-employees of a company I shall call “Poison Lilly Hard Drives” threw a Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker appreciation party. Bring your own booze, and wear something fake.
I came armed with a bottle of tequila and an unspeakable garment.
After an hour in the backroom with the hardcore computer geeks, I went into the main room where the other people were – everyone who ever worked for Poison Lilly, most of whom had gotten fired since the owner started putting his expensive cars up his nose – and took up residence on the couch, watching Clockwork Orange on the television.

I spent from eight o'clock in the evening till six thirty the following morning on that couch.
With the bottle of tequila and a huge fluffy bunny rabbit on my chest.
Clockwork Orange was on permanent loop, replaying all night.
Watched it obsessively while finishing the tequila.

Happiness is a warm bunny.


My friend’s bunny rabbits are nothing like that. They were rescue rabbits, adopted from the shelter. They aren’t very social animals, and display symptoms of shell-shock, and strange neuroses. But they are extremely clever.
They’ve escaped from every containment and enclosure that has been tried, and wrecked most of the house in doing so.
These are the Alcatraz prison yard psychos among the bunnies.

I can imagine the Beatrix Potter rabbits happily co-operating with each other, and with the humans of their surroundings. Perhaps preparing a pot of tea or a nice green salad snack. Maybe even sitting in front of the hearth twiddling their toes while eating buttered toast.
What I see these two doing is constructing improvised explosive devices and smuggling machine guns.
Rabbit-sized machine guns.


I really must applaud my friend’s strength and character for putting up with these two furball terrorists for so long.
Were it me, I would have made a rabbit stew by now.
Parsley, peppercorns, garlic, and wine.
Lapin a la Bourguignonne.

Cooking is fun.

Happiness is a warm bunny.


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Thursday, January 19, 2012

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WOMAN

The other day a new reader found a post on this blog and was horribly offended by some glib off the cuff remark about Philippinas.
She left a comment inviting me to intercourse myself.
Oh dear.

I’m a sensitive man, and hurt by her anger.

Not because the proposed course of action would be infinitely less satisfying for me than a similar exercise could be for her (and I have some 'creative' suggestions which might make that truly stupendous), but because she may have incorrectly perceived a degree of dislike towards her kind in my remark.

I'm actually quite fond of Philippinas, truly.

Some of my very best friends.......


Maraming apologies, po.


Look, the nature of an anonymous soapbox like this blog is that glib and possibly undiplomatic things will occasionally be said.
Even about women.

Over the years I've learned, through exposure, experience, and keen observation, that there are very many women I should avoid.

Among those are Philippinas.
I admire their brash over-confidence, their brazeness, and their ability to get their own way and twist their men-folk around their little finger, but as a group they are probably the most shark-like bipeds on the planet.
Individually they can often be charming.
Dangerous but charming.

Others I refuse to get close to are women with tattoos, fingernail polish and too much make-up, and a disturbingly profound knowledge of clothes, shopping, Hello Kitty, shopping, south of Market clubs, shopping, celebrities, shopping, Real Housewives of New Jersey/Atlanta/Beverly Hills, shopping, the Kardasians, shopping, handbags, shopping, footwear, shopping, Macy's, shopping, the Westfield Mall, shopping, designer discount outlets, and shopping.

Yes, that IS a perfect description of Philippinas!

Well, except for the tattoos - those belong to stupid chicks who are unique individuals whom we should worship for being so totally unique my heavens how unique can you get.
They COULD be Philippinas. But they're mostly white.


Basically, given how many feminine things are on my blacklist, I might be described as a misogynist.
Except that I really do like women.

Women so engrossed in a book that they don't notice anything else.
Women closing their eyes in bliss while eating.
Women who defend their opinions.
Women of character.

I also like Philippino food.
Fortunately I know enough about it, and how to cook it, that there is no need whatsoever to associate with women from the Philippines.
Philippino food is some seriously good stuff.


Some of my very best friends aren't Philippinas.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CRUISING FOR WELLNESS

Many news sites have been featuring updates on the saga of the Costa Concordia, that being the ship that ran aground recently and capsized.

In all the hullabaloo, some crucial details are being entirely overlooked.

There were FIVE restaurants on board.

Five!

That's a heck of a lot of dining which was disrupted.

The two main restaurants are the Milano and the Roma, the two premium restaurants are the Concordia and the Ristorante Samsara. Apparently in the latter the food and fabulous crystal and porcelain are to die for.

Wait, strike that. Bad choice of words.

Heavenly!

Errm...


Anyhow, I've heard that in addition to fine Italian cuisine, the food had "an international flavour".
Succulent and seductive were the terms used.

Scallops. Veal. Turbot. Lamb chops.

The problem is that the food served is an "Epicurean Discovery of Wellness", with the selection "following the Samsara philosophy", which means low calories, salt, and fat, plus ayurvedic something or other.


IT IS SO VERY MEANINGFUL!

Ayurvedic? Wellness? What I'm hearing here is fashionably hip mumbo jumbo with a fancy name, meant to appeal to deeply mysterious and spiritual beings who are in tune with the universe.
Self-impressed white bourgeois snobs, in other words.
The folks who confuse karma and dogma.

Probably "talented and creative" too.

Betcha they trimmed the fat off the chops.


What the heck is wellness anyhow?
And why can't it involve globs of butter?
Béarnaise sauce, crispy fries, and fatty cuts of meat.
Or a nice big soul-satisfying serving of Homard Sauté à la Crème.

As a nod to the health nuts, I'll allow that the cream be reduced by half BEFORE the butter-seethed lobster is simmered therein. Culinarily that actually makes much more sense.
And, for those people who are sensitive to alcohol, the cognac and sherry should be flamed first, then added.

[Personally, I prefer to serve this dish either with buttered tagliatelle (garnished with chive and parsley), or mounded over a huge pile of crispy garlic fries.]


Extra cognac and sherry can be served on the side.
Along with MORE butter.
And some salt.

Plus hotsauce.

Bon gusto.


If you wish to offer an alternative point of view, please do so. Just try to refrain from channeling for a twenty thousand year old Inca princess while you do.


DISCLAIMER: Despite what may seem like a cavalier disregard for the people who did not survive, I actually feel deeply for them and their loved ones.
I just wish they had enjoyed more honest dining, rather than pretentious sod cooking cynically calculated to max out their credit cards in a feel-good bit of culinary prestidigitation.
Cruises, ideally, are about eating richly, screwing random English members of the opposite sex in between playing charades in the lounge and observing cleavage, late-night intoxication with doubtful acquaintances, and dumping the body of an elderly businessman overboard.
Oh, and froofy drinks.
Especially the drinks.


Obviously I have never been on a cruise.
I was on the Bay once. Does that count?


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DIRTY HUNGARIANS

The other day I mentioned to someone that the only phrase in my language that my ex-girlfriend ever mastered was “mag ik alstublieft een haring hebben met uitjes" (may I please have a herring with onions).
As an example of Dutch, it is probably one of the most useful phrases ever.
It gets you exactly what you want.


老實講, 我隻氣墊船裝滿晒鱔!

There are several phrases which you should probably NEVER bother learning in a foreign language.

"Where is the bathroom?"

Seriously, if you need to ask that question in Russian, the answer you receive may be less than helpful.
Please don't ask where the bathroom is in their language until you have memorized "the nearest reasonably safe water closet is three blocks up Tvaletskaya Street here, then around the corner to your left, right up an unmarked flight of steps and open the door at the top, and please be sure to leave a couple of kopecks in the tin plate for the attendant ".
You could just go back to the hotel.
Public peeing is a serious problem in many countries.


"I demand to speak to the U.S. consular official!"

That is easy, comrade - he's in the next cell.


"How much is that in real money?!?"

Let's see...... zvantzig kopeck is four hundred and thirty dollars in 'real' money.
Now, will that be cash or credit card?


ANGOLNAALAKÚAK!

According to the internet, the most universally useful phrase in ANY language is "my hovercraft is full of eels".

Min luftputerfartug ar gans fild mit ahl! Mijn luchtkussenboot zit vol paling! Havercrafteman pore mārmāhi ast! Lutakujababot oba binon fulik senkafitas!
Meyn shveybshif iz ful fun veyners! Min luftdümpetbüüdj as ful ma äil!
Habakrap bilong me em i pu­lap tumas long lik­likpela snek bilong solwara!

Or, in the original Hungarian:
LupDujHomwIj lubuy'moH gharghmey!

I have NO doubt that it pleases the Flemings immensely that their national fish made the grade, whereas the noble herring doesn't even rank.

Hmmph.

Who knew that Hungarians were so fond of eel?


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NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

WOMBAT IN A SILKEN CAMISOLE

You know I check my blog stats, right? So I can see what some of you are looking for.

What I want to know is what kind of person searches the internet for “wombat underwear”.

No, I'm not judgmental. As far as I can guess, there is NO odd perversion or depraved role-playing associated with Wombat Underwear.
It sounds like a perfectly clean interest.

Perhaps the Japanese, who are infinitely creative about fetishes, are on the brink of inventing a new obsession to follow the small breasts - no breasts - big breasts - enormous carnivorous breasts - no kinky hair - huge jungle - cat ears - fox ears - Victorian era maid uniform - school uniform - outer space super hero uniform - etcetera fetishes.
But it strikes me that they would input the search criteria in their own language.


ウォンバット 肌着

Wombats are short-legged, well-muscled, quadrupedal Australian marsupials, nearly forty inches in length, with a short, stubby tail. They are very bad tempered. Their posteriors are made of cartilage.
How that last datum fits in with wombat underwear is unclear.

I do not believe that wombats even wear underwear as a matter of course.
When your rump is rigid, it probably chafes severely.

Nor is it particularly likely that lady wombats commonly wear panties (possible 女性ウォンバット パンティー in Japanese), though if they were wandering down the street in Tokyo (東京) or Kyoto (京都), they might, just to fit in.
Australians have been known to do crazy things.
Even when it chafes.

So I doubt that whoever inputted the term "wombat underwear" into their search engine is more than incidentally Japanese.


TASTEFUL WOMBAT LINGERIE

I really wish I could help the person searching for wombat underwear.
But alas, I have no clue where to find ANY wombat underwear, delicious or not, nor what it would even look like. Perhaps you should just design your own? Be sure to leave a hole for the short stubby tail. That's probably extremely important - an uncomfortable wombat is likely to be a disgruntled wombat.
They can be very bad-tempered, don't forget.

If you are curious about HUMAN underwear, I can help you.
After all, I wear that myself! Fairly often, too.
No, I shan't provide photographic evidence of this assertion, but under certain very limited circumstances I could be induced to prove it.
Please use the convenient "letter box" below for inquiries.
Be sure to include your e-mail address; who knows, I might actually respond.


In answer to an unposed question, I have not touched silk in a long time.
But that's probably neither here nor there.


==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

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