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, June 07, 2014

THE SMOKING ROOM OF THE GEEK GODS

As you may recall, I am slightly hard of hearing. Unless I am looking directly at you, and there is little noise to interfere, it may be hard to figure out what you just said. Normally it isn't a particular problem, and sometimes it's a convenient failing. And it can make some conversations pleasingly surreal.

This came into play the other day when attempting to understand an Australian woman who was sitting behind me.
Freeway noise and vehicular echo.


The most recent meeting of the local pipe club was brightened up by the presence of two ladies; an Australian and a Kiwi. And fortunately by that time the cigar-huffing deviants from the lounge had left for the evening, so their bestial hooting did not disturb us as we discussed deep matters.

[Cigar smokers are the equivalent of freeway noise and vehicular echo.]

In actual fact, I haven't a clue what we discussed, as I was talking about sambal, trasi, and belatjan with the New Zealander. I think that wine (California) was mentioned, as well as pumpkin pie.
Both of which were also present.

Among our regular members we have two men of the medical persuasion, two accountants, and two wine makers.
One of each of which were missing in action.

No, I don't know who made the pie.
I didn't ask.


Sambal is a generic term for chili paste preparations and hot condiments, although it usually refers to a massa of mashed red chilis with a bit of garlic or shrimp sauce, either served in a small saucer on the side or globbed directly onto the plate. It's what unifies Dutchmen, Malays, Indonesians, and Surinamese into one big happy amorphous mass.

Trasi may mean a firm brick of fermented seafood substances or a somewhat softer goo of the same composition, used to flavour food. A small amount adds earthy depth, un goût vraiment formidable, and a salty touch.
See amorphous blob of Netherlanders, South-East Asians, and Dutch Guianese mentioned above. It is the secret sacrament in your family's cooking, which you may not be aware of till it's missing.

Belatjan is a Malay term for Trasi, but also the Peranakan Chinese word for any condiment zipped up by the fermentation of shrimp or small fry. The Tamarao equivalent is Bulatjong, which is often thicker and stinkier. In the Philippine languages it is often called Bago'ong.
It can be chemically unstable.
Tasty.

I suspect that if you fried sliced pumpkin pie with sambal and trasi it would be very wonderful. You could call it 'Asian Fusion Cuisine', which was a subject also touched upon that evening. I would advise squeezing some lime juice over the result, for a completely balanced shmeck.

There was also some fine Camembert for nibbles.
One must have a spot of cheese.
It's essential.


THE TOBACCO NUT SPEAKS

For those who are interested, here are the tobaccos that were present: Comoy's Cask No. 2 (Port wood), Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake, Samuel Gawith St. James Flake, McClelland's Arcadia, Dunhill's London Mixture, Stokkeby Fourth Generation 1855, Stokkebye Superior Navy Flake, HH MacBaren's Latakia Flake, Sutliff's 1849, Solani Aged Burley Flake, Esoterica (Germain & Son) Margate, Esoterica Penzance, Esoterica Stonehaven, and Balkan Sobranie (the Arango version).

[Comoy's Cask No. 2 (Port wood): A very European approach, but remarkably restrained, all things considered. Virginia, Burley, and Black Cavendish in an easy-smoking mild aromatic. Hints of port and dessert flavours, less bitey than many perfumed concoctions. Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake: Absolutely divine, a flake lover's flake. Samuel Gawith St. James Flake: An exceptional Perique-heavy concoction. McClelland's Arcadia: Medium English-Oriental, rich but not domineering. Dunhill's London Mixture: A standard and well-known English blend much appreciated by retired surgeons who collect Oom Paul pipes. Stokkeby Fourth Generation 1855: Blonde-brown broken flake with a lovely echo of orchard fruit due to the fine flue-cured elements. Stokkebye Superior Navy Flake: All-day smoke, nothing exceptional, but because it's so easy to like it's quite exceptional. HH MacBaren's Latakia Flake: Hot dawg! The bee's knees, the cat's miao. Sutliff's 1849: Colour me surprised. I never thought Sutliff could do that. Ribbony soft Virginias with a hint of Perique. Solani Aged Burley Flake: Smoked this a long time ago. Nice. Nutty. Esoterica (Germain & Son) Margate: The ultima Thule of English-blends from Germain, among other ultimae that they do. Esoterica Penzance: What all bright young hoarders are preventing everyone else from smoking, the bastards. If you remember Bengal Slices (or wish that you did), you probably obsessively stalk this product. Latakia, Turkish, and Virginia pressed into a mottled flake. Esoterica Stonehaven: A refined English working man's flake, being both air-cured and flue-cured leaf pressed into dense sheets. It suggests apples, plums, and a chocolate note due to the Burley. An easy smoke for them as likes that. Balkan Sobranie (made for Arango by Germain): A variation on a later Gallaher recipe, in which steam and heat combine to produce something with much of that fondly remembered tin-aroma, though the cut is stringier and there is far less Latakia than the classic version. It, too, has become a hoarder tobacco.]

Oh, and a tin of Greg Pease's Sextant.
Which I did not bother mentioning.
Or sharing, sorry. I'm selfish.

After three hours of pleasant company and good conversation, we broke up at around nine. I ended up getting back to the city in a non-smoking vehicle with four other smokers.



AFTERTHOUGHT

We need more women at our meetings. They add a note of civilization, and gentle the eccentric beasts. Ideally, one should FIRST find a woman who has charm, complexity, and keen intelligence, THEN introduce her to pipes and tobacco. It's a gradual process, as pipe smoking takes a little while and effort to become thoroughly enjoyable. And most women do not have the social background to assume it something they might do, or consider it natural to their gender, aside from also having friends and relatives of limited vision who would look askance. Nevertheless, the woman of wit and wisdom should naturally gravitate towards pipes, as the habit is a thoughtful and calm past-time.

A long time ago it was a woman who taught me more about pipes and fine tobacco than I ever thought existed. I still have some of her pipes, which are enduring favourites in my collection.

Her taste and discernment were formative influences.



TOBACCO INDEX


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