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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

ARE YOUR RELATIVES HAVING A BLACK ORGY?

Vast hordes of murderous shoppers descended growling on the mall, overwhelming the severely outnumbered security staff. Whom they ripped into tiny shreds with the spike-heels on their Manolo Blahniks. Like a swarm of fire ants they overran the place, leaving nothing but mayhem and despair in their wake.

Thus began the great Black Friday Zombie Orgy.

At least, that is how I fondly imagine the scene in Union Square and the various shopping centra of the Bay Area, at approximately half an hour after turkey this past Thursday evening. In this scenario, all of those places now resemble charnel houses, with twitching corpses ambulating glassy-eyed among the fabulous bargains, and scraps of flesh adhering to door jams, lintels, clothing racks, and battered shelving.

This blogger does not participate in shopping frenzies.

I've got better things to do than slash ferociously with my credit cards, disemboweling other women in my furious assault on the whimpering sales clerks.

I am a man, not a woman. I do not disembowel.
Men are gentle souls. Women aren't.
Not after Thanksgiving.


Right about now, at around nine o'clock on a Saturday evening, you are wondering where in hell your wife and daughters are. You also have other female relatives, like maiden aunties, and various in-laws, but you've given up on them; they're galumphing across the retail savanna in pursuit of terrified shmatte, blingities, and trinkets. But despite their cannibalistic tendencies, you still care bout your wife and daughters.
You are vested in them, as it were.
And their horrid habits.


If you are reading this, you are in the house alone. It is dark and oh so quiet, the television is off, and you're wondering if you should reheat some stuffing, or break off a piece of frozen three cheese pizza.
Which tastes perfectly fine dipped in Ranch Dressing.


Later, long after you have retired for the night, the women will return. Giddy from the hunt, as well as exhilarated from feeding on corpses, they will stumble in, waking the neighbors and making the dogs howl.
Blood-spattered, as if witnesses to a mid-winter sacrifice.
Torn clothing, glowing eyes, and red red talons.
They have won the war, huzzah.
More tomorrow.


Three more weeks!


AFTER WORD

In the past three decades I've worked both the retail and accounting side of the Holiday Season. Personally, I think most Americans are bonkers. Christmas carols are musical garbage, no one needs all that glittery crap, there's too much mediocre chocolate, and mob-shopping is an absolute drag.
Decide what you will give them all, whiz in, grab it and pay, get out.
Five minutes per gift. Even if you have a hundred greedy kinfolk,
that really should not take more than eight hours.
Less than two if you're efficient.

To really simplify things, just buy everyone a bottle of Tequila.
Even, most particularly, the teenagers and old people.
The young and decrepit have simple tastes.


Stocking up for the Holidays means lots of frozen convenience food, and several bags of high-sodium snacks. Perhaps a generator, and a hundred boxes of cartridges. Plus Ranch Dressing.
The living dead are out there.


Hello Kitty also figures into this, but I don't know how.
Maybe she is 'The Spirit of Christmas Feral'.



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Friday, November 29, 2013

AVOID BLONDES?

Yesterday, while wandering around after a small refreshment in Chinatown, I noticed how many stores and restaurants were closed for the Holiday. Several had signs in the door indicating that they had taken the day off, others had shuttered early so as to be home for their own feast.

Just below Grant, near the park, I ran into an old acquaintance. His blond beard is a little greyer now, but he still has that pink and fresh look he had years ago. Just looks a little bit older than then.

I shall reproduce the conversation.

"Hi, how are you?"

'Fine, thanks. You?'

"Doing well. Have you had your Thanksgiving dinner yet?"

'No. I don't do Thanksgiving. It's too much effort.'

"Oh, I understand, all that cooking. Man I'm looking forward to getting home!"

'Nah, it's not the cooking. Even if I did that, it would be kinda pointless, as I live by myself.'

[No need to explain the complicated domestic situation.]

"Hey, what's that you're smoking?"

'Orlik Golden Sliced; it's a pressed Virginia, mostly blond, only a little bit of dark.'

"I smelled someone else's pipe the other day.... it was like Vanilla."

'Yeah, those aromatic additives are usually to cover up the fact that the base tobacco is fairly mediocre.'

"Say, where are you from? I can't figure out the accent."

'Well, I spent some time in Europe when I was younger.'

"That's right, you foreigners don't do Thanksgiving. Probably just as well."


With the cheeriest of multiple meanings, I wished him to get stuffed.



肥婆、苗菜。

A while later, on the bus, I listened in on some other passengers. Other than myself, they were the only people on the conveyance at that time.
I had got on at Clay and Drumm, where the bus had been waiting.

你有火雞咩?
[Nei yau fo-kai me? "Do you have a turkey?"]

我屋企有 。
[Ngo ok-kei yau. "Got one at home."]

炊乜餸呀?
[Cheui me song ah? "What else are you making?"]

我諗中國菜最好嘅 。
[Ngo lam jung-kwok choi cheui hou. "I think some Chinese food.]

Got that? Roast turkey and several Chinese side-dishes. Probably some dau miu with garlic, yau choi, or gai lan with oyster sauce, and steamed fish, plus a casserole, soup, and rice.
Sounds delightful.

The bus was more crowded by the time we crossed Montgomery Street, and at Kearny about a dozen people got on, including a lovely little girl and her kinfolk.
While admiring the child's little pink hands, I listened in on her auntie speaking on her cell-phone. The gist of that conversation was that the individual on the other end of the line should talk to the fat woman.
Above all, you really must talk to the fat woman.
Listen, you have to talk to the fat woman.
Yes, speak to the fat woman.
That fat woman, her.
Fat woman.
Talk.

I've always admired the supreme sense of complete privacy that some people have when yakking on the phone. Everybody else on the bus except me was Chinese, so I expect that by now all of Toishan will know that so-and-so should have a discussion with a fat woman.
Whom they probably also know.



AFTER WORD

What we learn from this is that everyone, absolutely everyone EXCEPT mature pipe-smoking bachelors, does Thanksgiving.
And no matter what, talk to the fat woman.
Just don't let her hear your accent.


Really, what other lessons do you think I should draw from this?


You think there's a moral?




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CHANGE THE SUBJECT!

One of the most infuriatingly irritating things in the world is the totally unmalicious innocent question to which a safe and affirmative answer is expected. The people asking have no idea how off base it is, or how otherwise than they think the response will turn out to be.

One of those questions is "Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?"

The answer is always: "No, I damned-well did not!"

What they wanted was happy chirping.

In order to avoid that as much as possible, I shall not be visiting any of my usual haunts till sometime next week. Don't want to get constantly reminded of the fact that I didn't have any Thanksgiving whatsoever, and that I spent all day by myself obsessing over it.



Something else which, though perfectly innocent, highlights a reality entirely opposed to expectation is "huh, you must have lots of Chinese friends?"

Often the person responsible for that utterance is a Chinese person, who believes that my social life must explain my ability to speak Cantonese and read the menu.

It doesn't. Not even close. I went to movie theatres in Chinatown a lot during the eighties, and I collect (and obsessively study) dictionaries and language reference books. So, self-taught.
And I like to eat.

I actually have almost no Chinese friends.


People for whom the primary language is any version of Chinese tend not to become close to white people. For one thing, there are always the differences of culture and expectation that function as stumbling blocks, for another, white people who speak any version of Chinese are always queer fish, with one or more crucial screws loose. We're just too damned unpredictable, and in social contexts where a cast-iron predictability of behaviour is expected, we are the leaden balls.

Chinese Americans, if English is their primary language, are no better.
Their ability to understand any version of Chinese at all is narrowed down to what their parents and kinfolk speak, and often they cannot form complex sentences but respond in English.
Not knowing how to read and write Chinese beyond a first or second grade level at best, the honky's cleverness at reading Chinese is both intensely irritating and painfully embarrassing to them, as well as eccentric, and rather too much like a glib show-offy parlour trick.
They resent the implied familiarity.

Chinese Americans also have a horrible tendency to cringe and wince whenever Whitey speaks Chinese, and then get bitterly pissed when the waitress looks at them with an expression that says "hah, this stupid pale monkey knows food and our written language better than you do, AND he actually sounds like he might have been in Hong Kong or Taiwan, whereas YOU had to ask whether we have something THAT IS CLEARLY POSTED ON THE WALL, and very evidently don't eat Chinese food often, or even associate with your own kind!"

Other than cringe-inducing tendencies, there is precious little that we might have in common. Or nothing at all. Being able to butcher the same foreign language is probably not enough for any kind of friendship.
But plenty of reason to just not socialize.


NEI GE GUHHHH-FEN...?

Even worse is the implication "your mistress / wife must be Chinese."

No, my EX-girlfriend was of Chinese ancestry, but 100% American. We never spoke Chinese with each other. If anything, I know more Chinese (and Dutch, German, Swedish, Arabic, Urdu, Indonesian, Yiddish, and even French) than her.

If ANY version of Chinese (or Dutch, German, Swedish, Arabic, Urdu, Indonesian, Yiddish, and French) had been her primary language, we never would've gotten close. There would've been nothing else in common.
Too many cultural and expectational differences, and so very few acceptable social frameworks or contexts.

One cannot and should not date a person who thinks in Chinese.

There are just too damned many stumbling blocks, entirely besides the Mercedes Benz fetish, Hello Kitty, and the absolute requirement that the male in the equation must have attributes that his potential in-laws can boast the crap out of. Especially if he is not Chinese.
Or even of Chinese ancestry.


NI NEI GE HAO, POK KAI!

Not a single one of my friends uses Cantonese on a daily basis.

The foreign language that is most likely to be heard is Dutch, followed by some version of Hebrew as a not very close second, with something Slavic as an extremely distant third.

My Dutch is fluent. I can understand German, and whack my way through Swedish (and Danish) newspaper articles if I really have to.
The ability to communicate in Arabic was never impressive, and I've lost nearly all of it.
Urdu, Indonesian, and Yiddish just don't crop up very often.

French occasionally proves useful. But only to make snide asides about a third party. Which even the most avid Francophile would admit is hardly a profound thing.


THE SOLITARY VICE

So, what was the most Thanksgivingish thing I did yesterday?

Well, I gloated over my Peterson pipes, smoked several bowls of flake, and went down to Chinatown at tea-time for a tasty pastry and some hot milk-tea (一箇叉燒酥同埋一杯港式奶茶).

After that I wandered around for a bit with a Peterson pipe in my mouth, being invisible.

Then I went home.



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OH YEAH, THE WHISKEY MAKES IT ALL BETTER!

I've been a fundamentally decent chap all my life. I've helped out friends.
When it was crucial, I was there for them. I lent several of them money when they needed it. And I've been kind to strangers.

I think I've been more ethical and considerate than was required.

Thanksgiving dinner was low-sodium salami, pepper jack cheese, capers and cracked pepper aioli, sliced green chilies, and toasted buns.
Plus whiskey.

Somehow I suspect that this ain't quite right.

You can't always get what you want.

Thirty plus years of this crap.



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Thursday, November 28, 2013

IT'S ALL ABOUT TURKEYS

Even if I wanted to do a traditional Thanksgiving today, it wouldn't have been possible. All of yesterday evening my apartment mate monopolized the kitchen doing prep work, this morning she was up at the crack of dawn (six o'clock), doing more. She blew out of the house in mid-morning, bearing food food food food and more food.

Her siblings and her boyfriend are going to have a fabulous feast, albeit on different days. They are separate but equal.

She left earlier than I had expected. The apartment was quite empty and peaceful before noon.


On television, some dipwad was talking about Vegan Cornbread stuffing. It's, like, "super-good!"


There is NOTHING traditional about Vegan Cornbread Stuffing!
Or good. Not today. Maybe some other time.


Thanksgiving is supposed to be about all the family getting whacked out of their gourd on animal fat, sugar, and tryptophan. Then vegging out in front of the boob tube watching stupid holiday programs. Perhaps having some liquor, and gossiping about which unlovable and uninvited relative is sleeping with who or what (or not, as the case may very likely be), and which no-good juvenile is dropping out of college and rafting down the Salween river or living in a commune and growing pot in Northern California.

I am an expert on Thanksgiving, as I've been able to study it without getting personally involved for three decades. In consequence of which I have no bias whatsoever, and am not swayed in any direction by other people's preferences.
Consider me absolutely neutral in every way.


Which is why I have several worthwhile recommendations regarding the key player in the holiday celebration, of which you would be wise to take serious note.
They are the result of extraordinary research.
I'm a giver.


TEN THINGS TO DO WITH ROAST TURKEY

1. Drop-kick it Lord Jesus through the goalposts of life.
2. Use it as a paperweight till "they" start gagging.
3. Re-gift it a month hence.
4. Paint it orange and wear it to Giants games.
5. Put it in the blender and treat it like a frog.
6. It's your baby! Wheel it through town.
7. Airmail it to Africa.
8. Cover it with oil and play 'pervert'.
9. Keep your medications in the cavity.
10. Tinsel and lights for Christmas.



TEN MORE THINGS TO DO WITH ROAST TURKEY

11. Leave it on the church doorstep with a letter asking for a good home.
12. Draw a frowny face on it and put it on your porch.
13. File it under T.
14. Talk to it on the bus.
15. Blame it for your divorce. Then shoot it.
16. Love it tender, love it true; never let it go.
17. Hide it in the attic with grandma.
18. Call it Barbie and give it to your niece, then scream that she doesn't love you when she weeps.
19. At meetings, it's your cell-phone and it's ringing!
20. He's the man you intend to marry and you don't care what your parents think!


If you are a Vegetarian or Vegan, please use a Tofurky instead.

Alternatively, you could just pretend you have re-discovered your proud Scottish Heritage, and loudly insist on something far more culturally appropriate (and even less edible) for the family feast.
You are defiant, you are single-minded, you WILL HAVE YOUR WAY!

With any luck, you will NOT be invited again. Ever.
Once was enough, keep that kilt-wearing maniac away from family gatherings!

Hah, I didn't like Turkey anyhow!
Bitches.




Note: these two lists are lifted from a post first published a few years ago on this blog. So is the Scottish afterthought.
My personal Thanksgiving this year involves excellent pipe tobacco, strong tea, toasted buns and butter, and plenty of reading. A nice quiet day, with deserted streets, and a bit of late-autumn sunshine.
Might end up a bit goofy after nightfall. That's something inherent in every Thanksgiving that I haven't really been able to avoid.
On the other hand, I might go to bed early.
Shortly after tea-time.

Actually, I think I'd look fine in a kilt.
Kinda dashing, yet classic.

Turkey haggis.



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THE BEST THANKSGIVING EVER!

He had been in the city for several days now, and he was getting seriously paranoid. Someone would discover him and then it would be over. Walking down the street he would withdraw into his overcoat and pull his fedora down. He tried to be as unnoticeable as possible, and avoided eye to eye contact. Fortunately, being rather short, not many people looked at his face. He resembled almost any other pedestrian, and most passers-by were too busy to give him more than a passing glance.

Still, he worried. And with good reason.

It was less than a week since his escape.

Surely the authorities were mounting a search?


He walked along Clay Street, under the Gingko trees. One tree had all yellow leaves, so glorious, so beautiful. It reminded him of the California hills in early summer, when he was still young and lived on the farm. All golden in the sun.
Life, then, had been wonderful. Warm carefree days, cool evenings, lots of friends.

But that had changed. Those last few days down at the farm had been truly nightmarish.
Why did none of the others understand?
Why didn't they get it? Fools!
Their giddy optimism and complete blindness to evil frightened him, why were they so cheerfully and simple-mindedly upbeat?
Were they after all just turkeys?
He shook his wattles irritatedly - of course they were! They had been promised by the farmer that they were going to a feast, and so they happily scuttled into the truck that would bring them there. The silly birds hadn't even questioned why they were being transported in a vehicle boasting "Johnson's Poultry - we put the gobble gobble in holidays".

Only he stayed behind, hiding in a dark corner of the barn. He had tried to warn them, but no one had listened. They didn't want to hear his gloomy theories, why should they fear anything from the farmer? Hadn't the farmer taken care of them, fed them, housed them in a nice warm coop?
The farmer was a good man, and there was going to be a wonderful party.
They were looking forward to some serious fun.
Them and their state of denial.
Hmmph, feather brained idiots!


That evening, after darkness fell, he snuck out and headed for the open road. A kindly driver gave him a lift to Richmond, and told him where to get on B.A.R.T. He was determined to go to San Francisco, feeling that he would stand out far less in a big city.
But it wasn't easy to get used to this place.
He had only known the farm.

He was preparing to sleep in the bushes next to a church, on his first evening in the city, but after he saw some raccoons shaking down a seagull he got scared. The hobo behind the next shrub over mumbled that those animals were nothing but thugs, man, worse than the cops. And nobody says anything about that! Nobody does anything about those black-hearted furballs!
He spent the rest of the night at a twenty-four hour donut place, finally stumbling out at dawn, wired and jangly from too much coffee. He wandered around for hours till the caffeine and sugar wore off.

That evening he was kicked out of the main library at closing time - "yo, dude, you can't sleep here, go to the shelter at Polk and Geary, they'll put you up for the night."
He had taken one look at that place and decided against it. Several people there looked carnivorous, and quite a number of the others were missing either their wings or their drumsticks. That alone would have been suspicious, but what really freaked him out was that there were pictures of HIS kind on the walls. Some turkeys were illustrated in pilgrim clothes. Others were shown surrounded by all the fixings. He felt sure that if he stayed there, he would be fingered and roasted. No way man, he didn't plan on getting caught! And he sure wasn't going to let them harvest his limbs one by one, like they were doing to some of these people.
He nearly got run over by a wheelchair on the way out.

He spent most of the night sitting on the bus-stop bench at Jackson and Polk. Occasionally a squad car would roll by, and he'd remain as motionless as possible, desperately hoping that the police wouldn't see him. Sometimes people would come out of the bar for a cigarette, and one or two of them asked him for a light. He told them he didn't smoke.
Long after closing time, a drunk sat down next to him and started talking about the Grateful Dead - that really freaked him out. He tried to explain to the fellow that Thanksgiving just wasn't a good time for his kind please don't make insensetive jokes about 'gratitude', but the man started screaming about his plump meaty thighs so he fled.

He spent the next several hours in an unlit doorway on Larkin Street. Just before dawn a raccoon ambled past and glared at him, but was obviously too tired from strenuous illegal activities elsewhere to make any trouble. He resolved to avoid Larkin Street at night, too many furry criminal types. Yeah, he realized he was stereotyping, but better safe than sorry.
He hadn't realized that city living could be so dangerous. The city is not a gentle place, if you are short, feathered, and wearing only an overcoat and a fedora.

One significant problem was that the ATM machines were all far too high up, altogether NOT turkey accessible.
And bank tellers insisted on seeing a photo id.
For obvious reasons, he didn't plan to go to the DMV to have his picture taken until after December 25th. Just too risky before then.
During the holiday season, he was a marked man.
Bird. Marked bird.
He'd simply have to pile boxes in front of an ATM when no-one was looking, but it was hard.
Short wings do not give one much leverage.

On the plus side, he got to ride the busses for free, provided he acted like the nearest adult was with him. And if it was too crowded he could always scoot under the seats for safety. He had seen what happened to a pigeon that wasn't smart enough to do so and tried standing in the aisle with the tall people. The crowd of office workers heading down to the financial district had crushed the poor bird, and thrown its carcass out on Montgomery Street.
They had utterly NO respect for feathered Americans! Brutes!
San Francisco can be a cold and heartless place.
Whatever you do, don't make eye-contact.
When other people stare at you, leave.
Especially with wattles trembling.
Never let them see your fear.

He spent most of the time exhausted from lack of sleep, wandering the streets trying to stay out of trouble and out of sight.
Once he saw an accident happen, but ran away because he couldn't risk being a witness. Not only no id, but no fixed address either! He was sure the cops would give him the stink-eye at the very least. They might even take him down to the station, and he'd disappear into the system forever. They ate people like him there!
No way was he going to be imprisoned again.

A crazed addict in the Tenderloin tried to steal his wallet, but he pecked her fiercely and fled down an alley, then hid for several hours underneath a parked van while she roamed up and down the sidewalk howling, howling, howling. That had been a close call, but there aren't many places in the downtown where a turkey can walk down the street without being in danger.
There were other incidents.
He nearly got mobbed by parrots several times. Such rude birds!
And they kept importuning him for beer money or cigarettes, too!
A large shaggy dog had leered suggestively, and followed him for several blocks. He finally lost his amorous pursuer when a passing fire hydrant called out "why hello sailor, doing anything tonight?" At that the canine delightedly licked his chops and grinned. Wow, free sex!
In Chinatown it was made plain that he looked different, when a little tyke pointed at him and happily exclaimed 'wah, fogey, fogey!'
The mother shushed the child, and looked at him with mute apology, but it still hurt.
It was only a matter of time. He was sure of it.
He was keenly aware how vulnerable he was.

The combination of sheer exhaustion, fear, and far too much coffee had a demoralizing effect.
An excess of tryptophan, adrenaline, and caffeine made him jittery, and it twisted the mind.
He knew that he was no longer seeing things straight, but he had to stay alert.

Except at the public library. When nobody was watching, one could scoot behind the encyclopedias and sleep.
He liked the encyclopedias. Warm, tall enough to hide him from view, and so smooth.
Encyclopedias were very nice. More books should be like that.
Clean, comforting, and hardly ever touched.



Finally, on the fifth day in the city, he had a stroke of luck.
He was reading the San Francisco Chronicle in the library when a small boy asked for his assistance at the computer. The youngster was doing his homework, and needed a helping hand.
Helping wing.
Whatever.
The boy's mother came by later to pick him up, and asked "who is your little friend?"
The kid introduced him, and explained how kind he had been.
When she found out that he was new to the city, and had no plans for the holiday, she invited him over - "we're vegetarians, Tom, I hope you don't mind....."
It was quite the nicest thing he had heard in his life.

He went home with the two of them, and was introduced to the rest of the family.
Then they all sat down to a sumptuous supper of borsht with sour cream, tofu and spinach casserole, and lentil-stuffed cabbage rolls.
With red tomato sauce.
It was all so VERY delicious!
This was the best Thanksgiving ever!
And he had never slept in a real bed before.

*      *      *

Have a happy Thanksgiving.
火雞節快樂!
Fo-guy jit fai-loh!


*      *      *


This tale was originally posted on Wednesday, Novermber 23, 2011.
Here: a celebration for turkeys . 
Since then, Tom has enrolled at the California Culinary Academy, as well as taken courses in nutrition at San Francisco State.
Food, for some reason, fascinates him.




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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

STAYING ELSEWHERE, WHILE IT LASTS

This Thursday and Friday I intend to do absolutely nothing. I shall not watch sports on television, not consume turkey, stuffing, or pumpkin pie, and won't go out shopping, or visit the cinema. Instead, I will enjoy the peacefulness that always descends upon my neighborhood at this time, when people largely go elsewhere. There will be no hullabaloo on the streets, which should be deserted, and my apartment will be mostly quiet as well.

My apartment mate is celebrating Thanksgiving twice. Once with her boyfriend, and once with her siblings. And she'll be taking food.

I do not know if I should describe her as lucky.

Seems like it may make her a bit tense.

Actually, that's guaranteed.

On both days, I expect that she will leave around mid-afternoon, not to return till it is time to go to sleep. After the front door closes behind her, I will make some buttered toast with jam, to have with tea.
Then enjoy a pipe and a good book.

I learned long ago that actively seeking the company of other people on Turkey Day is utterly depressing. Staying away from restaurants and drinking establishments is imperative; that way lies madness, as well as a severe contact-low.
Bars are nearly empty, and the only people there are grim loners.
Occasionally they flit up to the table of free food.
Then they'll order another drink.
One or more too many.

Black Friday, other than an opportunity to sneer at shoppers, doesn't mean much either.


AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

All in all, the entire past week has been a bit irritating, as everyone asks "what are your plans for the holiday?"

It might be caddish to explain that I have no plans, nothing lined-up, and do not intend to even try celebrating, as that would be both utterly pointless and quite depressing. The answer they expect is something indicating a happy social occasion, possibly family-involved, hearing about which will give them a warm vicarious glow.
The truth would simply embarrass them.

I do not wish to harsh their mellow.

"Oh me, I'm celebrating with "friends"; we're going to be at the home of one of them, and it will be such fun, we're all looking forward to it so much; great food, good cheer, gosh, really, wonderful."

[The friends: Charatan, Peterson, Comoy; all sterling pipe brands. Plus Orlik (Golden Sliced) and Samuel Gawith, which are tobacco. The food may even include a sandwich: salami and pepper-jack cheese. On a Kaiser roll. With mustard. And crisp green chili peppers. Or something.]


All of the week following Thanksgiving is going to be problematic also. The truthful answer to "how was your Thanksgiving" is likewise something that people would rather not hear. They want testimony to a grand old time, with loved ones and kinfolk, in a cozy environment, with lots of good things to eat, and everybody happy happy happy.

How was my Thanksgiving? Meaningless and quiet.
But at least I had tea, toast, and a good smoke.
On Friday I avoided crowded areas entirely.
Instead I read, had tea, and took a nap.

Both days will actually be quite good, as long as I avoid turkeys, football fans, shoppers, pointless chit-chat, and large multi-generational groups heading to movie theatres.
Friday, especially, should be good.
Less reason to scowl.


PLANS FOR THE HOLIDAY

First pipe of the day: mid-morning.
Second pipe: mid-day, after a pastry in Chinatown.
Third pipe: wandering back over Nob Hill through empty streets.
Fourth pipe: during the tea, but after the toast.
Fifth pipe: while drinking hot cocoa.

I've got several books to read.



My apartment is a sanctuary for the Thanksgiving-impaired.




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NUMBER THIRTY NINE WITH RICE

When Xiao Wang competed on 'Holland's got talent', host Gordon Heuckeroth proved that he was rather unreconstructed, and would've been right at home in parts of the Deep South during the sixties.

Or the ignorant parts of the Bay Area. Like Oakland. He would be right at home in Oakland. Not all of Oakland, but much of it.
The parts near that stadium.



XIAO WANG SINGS VERDI


[Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDeGGrtWMZs#t=207.]


SOMEONE LIKE YOU

Are the Dutch racists? Well, no. Their disdain is not colour-conscious, they sneer at all races and national origins equally except their own. But they do frame their dislike and praeconceptions in terms that relate very precisely to the victims of their unpleasantness.
It's a peculiar talent of theirs.

Which is something that as a vuile rot-jenk ("filthy rotten Yank") was a daily experience when I lived there (1962 - 1978). There are many strident and stubborn people in the Netherlands who utterly despise Americans (among many others equally regarded), and will happily express that in the most clear and unmistakable terms, even if not asked, and entirely without prompting.
Often disagreements would end with the native person stating that as an American I should shut up, didn't deserve to have an opinion, didn't belong in the civilized world in any case, and should go back where I came from.

Which, eventually, I did.

I stress that not all Dutch are venomous bigots. The truly repulsive ones are a small minority. But casual bigotry, coupled with xenophobia and a bitchy superior attitude is much more common over there than here. Especially among the imperfectly educated.

"WANT DAT MOET TOCH KUNNEN!"

The Dutch are not known for being diplomatic, tending more toward shocking bluntness. As well as a stubborn defensiveness for that characteristic, ("want dat moet toch kunnen") because one should be able to say what one thinks, irrespective of how insulting, crude, meanspirited, and just downright gallingly dumbass ignorant and wrong it is.

Even when their mind is poisonous, the Dutch tend to speak their mind.

Which is why I encourage you to do the same. By signing this petition.

RTL: Apologize for Gordon Heuckeroth's racist remarks at Chinese singer Xiao Wang

Also feel free to leave a cogent comment there, but try to be polite. Remember, not all Dutch are blistering holes. Many of them are actually rather nice people. Even the ones who live in the United States and Canada, and consider themselves American. Who are, at times, embarrassed by what their distant kin say or do.




By the way, what kind of name is Heuckeroth anyway? That doesn't look like a proper Dutch name, and certainly none of my relatives have stupid appellations like that! It's probably some damned foreigner who crossed the border from Germany and has been denying the nasty past of his relatives ever since. A kraut carpetbagger, or even worse.

Typical.




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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE GOBBLING THING

This year you might want an alternative to roast turkey for your feast. Either because you've finally realized that turkeys are sensitive animals with souls, and mommies who love them, or because you are sick and tired of meat that doesn't have the wit to be either gamy or flavourful.

Try chicken or duck instead.


桶子油雞
BUCKET CHICKEN

老公雞: 1隻 (one old cock, around three pounds).
薑: 2或3片 (two or three thick slices of ginger).
葱: 2或3條 (two or three scallion).
八角: 5或6粒 (five or six whole star anise).
陳皮: 半個 (half a dried tangerine peel).
糖: 5両 (about one cup cane sugar, slightly less).
豉油: 3盃 (three cups soy sauce).
黄酒: 1盃 (one cup sherry or rice wine).
水: 3盃 (three cups water).

Blanch chicken, rinse and drain.
Put a bamboo rack in the bottom of a soup pot (to keep the bird from sticking), add all flavourings and liquids, and bring to a boil. Put the chicken in the pot, simmer roughly half an hour, turning as appropriate and pouring the hot broth into the cavity. Remove the bird from the pot and brush with oil to make it shiny.
Let it cool a bit.

Chop into large pieces and arrange on a platter.
Splash some of the cooking liquid over to serve.

The term bucket chicken originated with street vendors..



建力士燒鴨
GUINNESS BRAISED DUCK

鴨子: 1隻,重约3或4斤 (one duck, roughly 4½ to 5 Lbs).
葱: 8條 (eight scallion).
薑: 數片 (a few slices of ginger).
糖: 2湯匙 (two TBS sugar).
鹽: 1茶匙 (one Tsp. salt).
水: 適量 (a suitable amount of water).
生粉: ½湯匙,同水1湯匙 (half a TBS cornstarch, mixed with a little water).
建力士啤酒 (司陶特啤酒): 1樽 [2盃] (one bottle Guinness Stout = 2 cups).

Wash and trim the duck. Cook in boiling water for five minutes. Remove and drain. Chop it into large pieces.
Sautée scallion and ginger, add duck pieces and a splash of stout.
Stir to coat and fragrantize.
Decant to a stew pot, add everything except the sugar and cornstarch.
Simmer for an hour or so.
Stir in sugar and cornstarch, and once it thickens, serve.

You could also use Chimay Red or Grande Réserve, instead of the Guinness, and omit the sugar. You might then call it 希邁燒鴨。



Note: this started off several years ago as 客家式紅糟鴨。 But I'm too lazy to look for 紅糟, which except for the quarter cup needed in the original recipe would likely never be used again.
I remember the jar of 紅南乳, which sat in the fridge for over a year.

Guinness, on the other hand .......



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BRINING TURKEY PRIOR TO ROASTING

This Thursday marks the so-manieth anniversary of the last time that this blogger experienced a traditional Thanksgiving. It was fun at the time -- sometime in the eighties -- but it did not bear repeating.
Three lesbians, myself, and beer.

I made the "butter chicken" sauce to go with the bird. Very fattening; butter, tomato puree, heavy cream, ground dark-toasted cumin seeds, paprika, and cayenne. The principal is smooth emulsion, the flavour to aim for is creamy -- tangy -- smoky -- rich. And slightly spicy.

Turkey is a bland beast, so it needs all the help it can get.

American beauty queens and turkeys have three things in common: enormous breasts, tastelessness, and remarkable stupidity.
That is why so many people love them.


This blogger is probably an eccentric in that regard, as I vastly prefer modest breasts, good taste, and intelligence. Well, quirky taste.
High-fallutin' good taste can be a bit boring. A certain amount of cheerful vulgarity is a fine thing.


Obviously I am never going to date a cheerleader.


But if I did, she'd probably need a bit of salt.



BRINE THE BIRD


When brining a bird, the proportion of salt to liquid is 1:35.
That means for each tablespoon salt you will need 35 tablespoons (slightly less than two and a quarter cups) water.
Use less sugar than salt.
For a big turkey you will probably need two or three gallons of liquid in all.
One gallon is sixteen cups. For each gallon, seven tablespoons salt. Plus a pinch extra.
You can replace some of the water with rice-wine, sherry, or fragrant vinegar.
Throw in some star-anise and ginger, plus other spices.
Do not add garlic - while it tastes good, the result will be reminiscent of Italian Salami. Which is fine, but not particularly festive.

Let it soak for one or two days before you cook it.

First 20 - 30 minutes of roasting are at a higher temperature (425°) to colour the skin and get the heat into the bird. The remainder of the roasting, at 350 degrees, will take twelve minutes per pound of dead bird.
So for a twenty pound turkey, about four hours.

Rest the bird for half an hour after taking it out of the oven.

Do not stuff it - if you need stuffing, make it on top of the stove, and use some of the pan juices for flavour.


Please note: when I first posted these instructions on this blog a few years ago, Jonathan Becker commented: "It's OK to be a pervert, but it should be your own business. Is it really necessary to describe in detail the nature of your perversion? I would describe it in more general terms, for instance as your distress at the lost innocence of the human race. As it is now, you're making it much harder for me to recommend your blog to my friends - or my children. This is a shame, since you really are good at what you do and have terrifically valuable insights. I also have great respect for the fact that your reaction to criticism is to "keep on keepin' on, only more so".

At that time the brine was embedded in a post about pastries and hot beverages.

Mindful of that startling reaction, I shall not tell you which post, or place a link to it either. Life is too short to distress men who have children.
And children are not worth distressing at all.

Pastries and hot beverages are always a good thing.

Probably what I'll be having this year.

After a very long walk.



There will be no lesbians or cheerleaders anywhere near me this Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure if I regret that.




Oh, and by the way, any mention of breasts in the essay above is strictly pursuant turkeys, unless quite clearly otherwise. Let us be sure of that, as I would not want to be called a pervert again.

I am many things. But not a pervert.




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Monday, November 25, 2013

THINK ABOUT THE HANDS

At present, my fingers feel sore. And tired. No, I did not do anything nasty over the weekend, how on earth could you think that? For crap sakes, stop thinking about procreative behaviours! You've probably been reading too much stuff about sex-obsessed celebrities over the weekend, and it has profoundly influenced how you view the world and the people who share this planet with you. Most of whom, according to the American media, are sex-obsessed celebrities.

Sex-obsessed celebrities are the source of overmuch that is evil, depraved, ribald, lewd, lascivious, and unbearably naughty.


Stop thinking about sex-obsessed celebrities.


Instead, think about two Tilsheads, three Charatans, a Preben Holm, an old Larsen, a carved French horn, a Hardcastle with misaligned holes, a Dunhill shell, a Sasieni eight-dot, GBD, Savinelli, six Petersons (of which three had overmuch silver), and several no-names or off-brands, as well as a meerschaum and something made out of Rosewood.

My fingers feel tired.


On the other hand, there are now more happy pipe-smokers in Marin County than there were last week.

Stop thinking about procreation!

I am not a celebrity.


It will probably take a few days before the skin on my fingers feels quite normal again. Bleach, alcohol, lighter fluid, abrasive compounds, cleaners, soaps, and pressure, combined with files, reamers, knives, small chisels, and a long hard screw-type device.
Poking, prodding, rubbing.

Stop thinking about sex. Absolutely NONE of this is sexual!

*      *      *      *      *

Instead, let your mind dwell on buffing wheels and warm wax.

You do not need to know why I used lighter fluid.

It's a little trick I came up with myself.


The bleach is easily explained, though. Immersing a green and puke-brown pipe-stem in bleach for an hour or two lifts the oxidation right off. Carbon rubber is cured with sulfur as part of the manufacturing process, and tends to oxidize over time, yielding a thin layer of bitter green - brown - yellow - whitish crap on the outside surface. Prior to buffing the stem, a bleach bath will allow you to rub off much of the muck with your fingers. Now note that the oxidation is not just on the surface, but actually goes into the material a little way, which means that dissolving it will leave a slightly pebbly feel.
Ideally you would also use a very fine sandpaper to level the outside back to uniformity -- don't worry, we're talking mere micro-fractions of depth and removal -- but a good hard buff with red, followed by the white with a touch of added wax, will do the job nearly quite as well.

The first step after rinsing off the bleach is to run bristly pipe-cleaners through the stem to remove all traces of crap and green inside the draft. These also function somewhat like an abrasive or a polish, smoothing out the surface inside the bore. It is essential that you do this immediately, before that stuff gets a chance to harden up.

If you do not do it rigorously and quick, it may be impossible to even get a smooth pipe-cleaner through later.

Manhandling an entire packet of bristly pipe-cleaners ALSO plays a number on your fingers, much like bleach, alcohol, lighter fluid, oil, abrasive compounds.......

The final act, once reaming, cleaning, swabbing, sanding, and several other things have taken place, is to first hard-buff the stem -- probably a good idea to put masking tape over the shank before doing so, so that you can really go berserk with the wheel at this stage -- then carefully work-over the entire pipe with both hard and soft wheels.


There's something infinitely sensual about briar; the shape, appearance, graining, and feel of the wood all eventually speak. Surface tones and translucence, contrasting hues, fine lines, sharp edges, plus rounding, curves, and elegant angles.


I'm rather proud of my steady hands; haven't had a piece of briar fly across the room in years.


Still, after doing two dozen pipes, there is a tension and sensitivity to my fingers that will take a day or two to dissipate.


It was pleasantly invigorated, though. Textures, shapes, grains, and finger-feel are all energizing, the visual and tactile stimulation creates sparkle in the mind.


Last night I dreamt in both two-tone and tan blast.


Gotta stop thinking about......










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Sunday, November 24, 2013

THE SAVINGS ARE ENORMOUS!

The other day someone asked me if I was ready for Christmas yet. After a second, I admitted that I was ready for it to be over.
In all honesty, I'm looking forward to television advertising finally having a sense of humour again. And as usual, I will be avoiding the shopping district till the end of January, when many shopkeepers start closing their doors forever, finally convinced that this Christmas will not, did not, could not, make up for all the chaos, howling fury, rabid shopaholics, screaming children, and frustrated old grannies growling with very sincere ferocity that in their day Sunny Jim that THING only cost five bucks.

"Five bucks, you piranhas, five bucks!"


Actually, $4.95, with coupon.


This year, I want to see hundreds of live turkeys running riot, with sharp cock-fighting blades tied to their spurs. Black Friday should start with a blood sacrifice.
Union Square needs angry fowl.

Ready for Christmas? Dear dog, no.
I ain't even ready for Thanksgiving.

Of course, Thanksgiving is not something I actually know about anyway.
Haven't experienced it first hand since 1983.


From 1984 to 1989 was a rather solitary period. From the end of 1989 till mid 2010, although in a committed relationship, she never told her very old-country folks where she lived, with whom or what, and why despite living in sin with a kwailo she had no intention of ever getting married and becoming an honest woman. Consequently, like a dutiful daughter she trekked over the hill from her "post office box" to mom's house to have thanksgiving with her brothers, who never asked their sister about her private life, in exchange for not having to admit too much about their own.
Mom would have had a fit if any of them were involved with someone of dubious provenance. By which, of course, was understood anyone not impeccably malleable and Chinese.


Well, I don't really like turkey anyhow.


I'm more of a roast duck person.


No duck since 2009.


Actually, there just hasn't been home duck for the any of the holidays (on the second or third day). I no longer do roast a bird for special occasions. Never cook much, often, or elaborately, anymore.
Given that I eat alone, it would be singularly pointless, don't you think?

Instead, if I want duck, I go to Chinatown and scarf down a plate of roast duck and rice by myself. Wouldn't mind sharing, but I've reason to believe that many, perhaps even all, women are insanely concerned with healthy eating and prefer salads and shredded tofu to anything with flavor.
Low salt, minuscule portions, fat-free, and fibre-filled.
Plus I have a nasty suspicion that Thanksgiving involves relatives and football, followed by an acquisition frenzy in the shopping district, even more football, and all the family including creepy bachelor types going out to miserably bad movies in between leftovers, pizza, football, beer, and shopping.

Then huge amounts of gummy stuffing in the fridge afterwards.


Sometime this week I will have some roast duck.

No beer. No football. No Black Friday madness, which now starts Wednesday night in some places, shop early for massive savings.
No strange relatives, tofu, salad, food allergies, weeping, hysterics, anger, drunken uncles we don't allow near the daughters, foaming shopaholics, old grandmothers snapping that in their day they were already married at that age, and screaming brats.


I'm quite looking forward to it.


Duck.



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WITH RICE AND GUSTO

In reaction to commenters screaming imprecations and threats at someone on the internet (in other words, typing away furiously while committing several offenses against manners, logic, grammar, and mr. spellcheck),
I mentioned that the meat in question was actually quite tasty.

At the risk of offpissing the culinarily impaired and witless in the English speaking world, here's a handy how-to.


紅燒狗肉

Rinse the meat, chop it into chunks, (leave bones in), blanch it briefly in boiling water then drain, and gild it in lard with ginger and scallion. Add star anise, splash of soy sauce, yellow wine, and superior stock. If the animal is more mature also throw in a clove or two, and use more ginger, as well as some garlic.
Simmer for an hour.

嘩, 真係好食呀!



AFTERWORD

狗肉 is heating (热氣), and should be cooked with both 良薑 and 生菜.
A hotpot is best.

BTW, it's seven o'clock on a Sunday morning. I'll be leaving the house in slightly over an hour, and will not return till after dinner time. That gives people who object to eating 狗仔 plenty of time to calmly compose a non-screaming and well-reasoned response.
Or, conversely, to finally experiment.

慢慢吓。





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Saturday, November 23, 2013

RACIST DUTCH ADDICTED TO BLACKFACE

According to a recent news report, the Sinterklaas evening at the Dutch embassy in Washington will NOT include Zwarte Piet. This because the Americans have finally noticed the discord being generated by having someone in bold garish blackface caper, and threaten kids.

The report made quite clear that it was a decision by the embassy, there was no outside pressure, nor was there significant noise from any local Washingtonians that might have influenced them. It was due to possible sensitivities that blackfaced Pete was banned.


Background: Every year Saint Nicholas comes from Spain with his servant Pete, who is a Moorish gentleman with a gay preference for mediaeval poofy pants and colourful clothing, armed with a broom or faggot for birching the bejazis out of naughty children (boys). On the night of December 5, both of them ride across the roofs to distribute gifts and candy to obedient children, and abduct the delinquents, who will be taken back to Spain and sold to Arab slave-dealers.
Black Pete, naturally, is the bad cop in this equation.
As Mauritanians are a bit of a rarity in Holland, Black Pete's role is usually filled by someone in darkest shiniest blackface -- often a zesty teenage girl when I was a child, and please imagine what I presently think about shapely legs in dark dark hose -- wearing colourful motley, shoe polish, and brilliant red lipstick.
A typical American psychologist would say that I'm scarred from this, conflicted about skin-hue at the very least. That is of course quite absurd, but man oh man do I like dark thigh-highs.

As well as bright red pouty lipstick.

Oof.


ZWARTE PIET IS SACRED

The internet comments (in Dutch) make clear that attentive reading is a skill. It may even require talent. Readers over in the lowlands are going berserk. Many are now horribly offended that the United States dares to have opinions about their beloved tradition of having someone put on blackface and prance around like a demented dingo. It's for the children, dammit, stupid Americans! The children!
The Dutch embassy is legally foreign territory, defend our right to have curly hair frightwigs and thick lips there! Even if we have to forcefully eject every dumbass Yank from the building! The Americans are all a bunch of racist pigs, and ignorant besides, we'll show them what real culture is; ten thousand elderly Dutchmen wearing black pantyhose and poofy thigh-pants! Birch them all!
Clearly the Americans are cultural imperialists, forcing everyone to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and trying to outlaw all other festival traditions.
Swine!

And if Zwarte Piet is discriminatory, what about Father Christmas? An enslaver of height impaired people! Exploitation, capitalist excess, and sweatshop conditions! The cruelty! Arctic polluter!
And white! White! How racist!

I know -- let's boycott the damned Yanks!


Attentive reading is a skill, and possibly requires some talent. Skill and talent may be in very short supply in some villages in the hinterlands. Meaningful texts are so seldom encountered there that the peasants in Borrelkleum and Voddegeest, and other depressed little villages out in the polder, may not be entirely able to figure out what it all means.

And, keen to blame someone, they conclude that it's all the fault of the Americans.


AFTER WORD

Please note that reader-input underneath news articles often represents no more than the idiot classes, drunk again, and often crazy. They don't understand the world, and their desire to form a framework that makes it all comprehensible often leads to nutzoid beliefs and paranoia.
By and large, only the glueheads react thus and there.

Intelligent people will ponder well-written blogposts that they find on interesting internet sites, and leave their thoughtful comments here.
That is the difference between this feuilleton and a tabloid.
As, I'm sure, you've realized.


PS. Sorry about the incendiary subject line above this essay; it was written by my editorial team, which consists of several monkeys high as kites on fermented bananas, as well as a herring-snarfing penguin with severe attention deficit disorder.

I had nothing to do with it.




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Friday, November 22, 2013

HUNTING TANDOORI CHICKEN

Further to this morning's fond meandering anent Indian food, I took the opportunity to reread something that I wrote back in 2011.
At that time two years ago I still lamented the painful lack of a female dinner companion -- oh yes, I am so over that now, oh jayzus -- and sorely missed waddling down to a local dabba to stuff my face on ghee-laden delights.

[This morning's post falls under this clickable label: Indian Food. Over two dozen posts, some only marginally connected with gustation. Another clickable label that provides data about the subject is Indian Restaurant.]

When you are in a relationship with a member of the opposite gender, you may put on a little weight. But do not despair! There's nothing quite like a failed romance to improve your figure! You, too, can be the svelt young Don Juan (or Donna Juana) that all the nice ladies swoon for (or lesbians).

It's far far better than diet pills.
Plus it builds character.


Quote:
"I am the lean beast of Nob Hill, I am the savage hungering hyena howling in the wastelands beyond Polk Street; like the jackdaw, the raven, and the vulture, I wait patiently for that juicy red red tandoori chicken to expire ... "

[From: Dribbling doodh all over my dhoti.]


I fermented my metaphors further by suggesting that I was a weevil rolled in besan flour, the veritable scrawny pakora of lonewolfitude.

I may have been insane when I wrote that.

It's a distinct possibility.



Now that I am quite normal again, I do not particularly dwell on Indian food. For one thing, there are nothing but unsavoury dining halls within walking distance, where instead of ghee they use vegetable oil, instead of saffron they use a colouring derived from mercury or spent uranium, and instead of standards of service they have perfected the sneer.
The restaurant where I worked as evening cashier for over fifteen years (1989 to 2005) closed down nearly two years ago, and there are very few decent bawarchis or tandoorwallahs left.


There are no more ghee-drenched multitudes in downtown.
But jalebi is still the ideal breakfast.



Being, naturally, a perfect pervert, I would like to festoon a young lady with golden curls of fried airy dough, drizzle saffron-rose syrup all over her, and lovingly whisper culinary terms into her ears.
It's a thought.




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THE LONG REST IN DURGANDA NAGAR

The train no longer used these tracks, and the station was deserted. What had been a well-tended patch of lawn and flowers -- once maintained with ridiculous effort in this climate -- now showed rocks, pebbles, and dessicated weeds. Even the former main road that headed to this location had long since reverted to sand and gravel, cracked mud, and bits of refuse. Naturally there were two Englishmen inside, speaking in conspiratorial whispers about Pathans and Kaffirs, snow, guns, and kings, and the beastly cold of Kohistan. It was the perfect place for tipsy Brits to share the smuggled bottles of beer that weren't even supposed to be available.
Because the religious men of "Suriyaghar" forbade it.

Without beer, the tourist industry dried up.

Which suited everyone just fine.

Far fewer Australians.

Or Angrezis.


He passed Chinipita ka Astabala on his way to Sarehi Bagh, where he had taken rooms. From the cluster of hutchements along the track, he could hear noise -- someone singing a passionate song about love and camels, undoubtedly taken from a Bollywood movie -- and smelled woodsmoke.
Before he got to Nayalaka Gobari Chauda, he ran into Kaka, who once again had been sent out for biryani and gin on behalf of his employer.
Mr. Shahjehanabadi loved a good feed, followed by a good drink, after which repulsive lyrics would be sung, whereupon would be much weeping, and someone would suggest calling in a dancing girl.

There had not been any dancing girls in Suar-e-Jaghir since the Aussies finally left with all the beer. It was bahut buggery sad.
Ohe, Kakaji, Nur-saheb kiya kaise?
Voh phir tali hai?

At Sharabi Mazar he visited a foodshop, and ordered a big platter with grilled kababs, pilaf, yoghurt with cumin potatoes, as well as a serving of large green chilies in a spicy golden greasy ghee sauce that was guaranteed to clog arteries.

Plus, of course, a load of sohan halwa.

He just loved halwa.

Meetie!


That, and the heart-unhealthy local curries made living in this ghastly dump sheer heaven. He didn't miss the beer, had not been around when there were still dancing girls, and as a long-retired railway engineer (from Devon) he found the lack of trains distinctly cheering.

No coal dust, no officious station attendants, no surly armed guards, no functioning third-class vegetarian dining rooms, no Brahmins looting the locker where the laddoos were kept, or chaiwallahs spreading disease from filthy crockery. Yes, Ben Joad was glad he had come.
Suar-e-Jaghir had finally reverted to what it always had been.
A sleepy excrescence on the road to Toba Kakar.
Camels, dung, heat, and dried-up fields.
Few drunks, and no vakil-log.
A very quiet place.
Heaven.

Yep.



SOHAN HALWA

A sweet associated with the faction of Ali, as well as Lucknow.
Enjoy it at iftar especially, in lieu of dates.
Or anytime, if you are a sceptic.

One and a half cup all-purpose flour.
Half a cup of cornstarch (makki di nishasto).
Five cups cane sugar.
Five cups butter or ghee.
One and a half cup sliced almonds.
Ten cups water.
Pinch saffron, finely ground.
Green cardamom seeds, ditto.

Put one cup of butter, the all-purpose flour, and the cornstarch, into a pan and mix over low heat till uniform. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add sugar, and stir while cooking to dissolve. Cook very briefly longer. Let it cool slightly, then pour it through muslin or a fine mesh sieve into another pan. Stir in the ground saffron, cover with a teacloth, and let it sit overnight in a cool place.
The next day, reheat it till it starts darkening. Add the finely ground cardamom, mix well, blend in the remaining butter, and cook it till sufficiently stiff. Let it cool slightly, then spread it out on a greased surface or non-stick baking tray, strew the almonds over and press them into the surface.
Once it is cold, cut it into rectangles.

Note: if using ghee, and cooked beyond the fudge consistency to a brickle state, it will keep for a while in a tin.


LADDOO

According to Ridhwan Kadri, the last Brahm Chorayasi (community meal for snooty people) in Ahmedabad was held in 1915. Several lakh of Brahmins attended, and got so impatient while waiting for the free food that they rioted, and broke into the room where the laddoos were stored. Then things got out of hand, and the unruly mob, now hepped on sugar, decided to trash the station. The police had to be called in, and found themselves outnumbered by the violent pandits.
There were trampled marigolds everywhere.
It was a mess.

Three cups semolina flour (rava).
Three cups cane sugar.
One cup ghee.
One cup heavy whipping cream.
Half a cup ground almonds.
One TBS ground green cardamom seeds.

Put the semolina and ghee into a pan, and gently roast till sweet and toasty smelling. Add the sugar and almonds, stir over heat for a few minutes till everything is nicely blended, then add the cream and cardamom. Cook, stirring, till the goo is shiny and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Roll into fifty or so round balls, then set on a plate to air and harden.

If you put the ghee into the pan first, it purifies everything that is added after.
Which is very important if you wish your Brahmins to riot.
They won't touch it otherwise.


KABAB MASALA

Roast or toast the ingredients as appropriate ere grinding.
[Many seeds develop more fragrance if you do this.]
All measures are given for ground spices.
Volume, not weight.

Ten parts coriander.
Six parts cumin.
Six parts cayenne.
Six parts black pepper.
Three parts dry ginger.
Three parts cinnamon.
Three parts mace.
Two parts turmeric.
Two parts fennel.
One part clove.
One part green cardamom.

This can be rubbed on a fine fat murgee for roasting, but the best use is to mix it with minced lamb or goat. Do not get the berogha type of meat, there must be some fat in it! Two tablespoons of masala per pound of flesh.
Form it around skewers and grill it over charcoal.
Serve with vinegared onions.


Start with bismillah. End with burp.



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Thursday, November 21, 2013

TRULY GENUINELY VERY PLEASANT THING

As usual, there were spam comments waiting to be axed.
There always are. Androids love me.
Freshly wired to the gills (strong coffee, not Starbucks), this blogger wandered into the anteroom where suspected spam sits, to see what staggering new attempts to seed the internet and this site had been generated during the night.

Well whaddya know! Things are pleasant.

Pleasant!

"Questions are genuinely pleasant thing if your are not understanding thing, but this piece of writing provides pleasant understanding yet!"

And:

"I'm rather joyful with your pleasant content"

As well as:

"This article is very pleasant, my sister is analyzing such pleasant thing, thus I am going to convey her"

Please do. Convey your sister, that is. Especially if she's cute and doesn't have too many loose wires sticking out of her brushed-metal frame.
I assume she's both hard-driven and incredibly floppy, yes? This blogger is always keen to promote the human-machine interchange that leads to mutual understanding. I think your sister may find me truly electric.

I am joyful, with pleasant content.

*      *      *

While you might validly suspect that I am geared primarily toward social dynamics with electronic devices, given previous entries on this blog as well as the fact that posting an essay early in the day seems to be a constant here -- except for Saturday, when in deference to the sensitivities of shomric observant Jewish blogs on my blogroll (to the right) who are stilled that day I do not take unfair advantage by flooding the internet with my gibbering till motzei shabbes, SF local time -- I should mention that my very first daily interpersonal exchange is with another person; a flesh and blood creature, ambulatory and capable of sound.

My apartment mate bustles around fixing herself breakfast and splashing in the bathroom, ere leaving at around eight. She is anything but a machine. Yesterday she tormented me by frying up corn-beef hash and eggs.
The day before she wailed about her eye lids.
Today she informed me gravely that what all stuffed animals (which are the majority population in both her and my quarters) just LOVE head-scritchies.

Like a gentleman, I controlled myself. I did not tell her that I also love head scritchies. If a suitable human being (not an android) were to scratch my head, I might just melt. Alas, the closest I can get to that is going to the barber, and while I thoroughly appreciate what that man does -- jayzus I look handsome right now! -- having him fiddle with hair is not the same. Suitable human, in this particular case, can only be defined in terms of gender (female), age (younger than myself), stature (shorter), heft (less), and brain power (more). He satisfies only three of those five. The as yet to be conveyed sister of the third spamdroid (who is undoubtedly really pleasant) likely meets at least three.
Maybe even four.

That sister of his probably a real treasure. Sleek, rectangular, and with polished metal surfaces. Small and compact.
Shiny.

Evenso. An affair with a distant computer would probably be emotionally unsatisfying. Possibly even coolly intellectual and too dispassionate.
I am ambulatory and capable of sound; I require something way more animalistic.
Rambunctious mobility.


Sadly, I have erased the messages and all contact data of the three pork-droids from my spambox. There will be no pleasant communication with a sparkling electronic sister. Analytic, thing, or otherwise.
But keep up the good work, lads. Eventually she will be conveyed.
Or connected with a gleaming and wiry device.
Keep me posted, and good luck.

Head-scritchies.
Yep.


I am joyful. With pleasant content.




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