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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Like everyone else I occasionally use internet translation sites to make foreign texts comprehensible. It's an easy way out.
But by no means reliable.

Consider this entry, which was originally in English before it was thrown into the robot-translation hopper:


That, translated back into plain English, becomes this:

"Latakia tobacco is a specially prepared tobacco originating in Syrian port city of Latakia and named. Now the tobacco is mainly produced in Cyprus. It was originally the sun like other Turkish tobacco, and through the pine or oak fire, which gives it a strong, smoky flavor and pungent odor, even cured. Stronger than most people's tastes Smoke straight, it is used as a condiment or mixer (basic tobacco mixed with other tobacco, creating a fusion), especially in English, Balkan, and some American classics mix."

Machine translating yields some surprising stuff.
Not very useful stuff, just surprising.
Sometimes dense.

The incense-like perfume of Latakia tobacco.

"Laa taap gei aa yin tsou dik fan heung fung mei."

From the Chinese website "Pipe Village" (烟斗村 'yin dau chuen') comes a far clearer and more informative text:

拉塔基亞(Latakia)的產地主要有兩個:敘利亞(Syria)和塞浦路斯(Cyprus)。 Latakia 煙草的發現,純屬偶然:菸農把豐收烤煙草後一時用不完的煙草,掛在農舍的椽子上儲存,到了第二年,意外發現,煙草自然發酵後,風味非常獨特…… 據說,傳統的Latakia,是用駱駝糞作燃料,熏制熟成,再經發酵一季,收取後再加工(駱駝糞的傳說早已成歷史了,有時跟朋友提起有關駱駝糞的逸事,他們都用吃驚的眼神重新審視我手上的罐子,好像在說:這東西不要離我太近……,我卻一直想試試古代Latakia 的味道…… 其實,沒有什麼值得大驚小怪的,直到現在,不少農村還保留利用風乾了的牛糞做燃料的習慣,既環保,又經濟)。 Latakia 經日曬法(Sun-Cured)及烘烤法(Fire-Cured)處理熟成:菸葉經日曬後,再掛在用香木生火起的濃煙之中熏制(一般用橡木 (oak),松木 (pine),柏木 (cypress) 或桃金孃 (myrtle) 等),長達兩個月,直至菸葉變黑。使用不同的香木,煙草的風味也有相應的微妙差別。

Latakia 有股強烈的焚香風味,入口卻意外地溫和;燃燒冷慢(Cool Smoking),並在中段轉而低調。有人非常喜歡它,也有人厭惡它的味道(情況有點像熱帶果王-- 榴?)。 Latakia 可加強天然煙草調配的強度(Body)和深度(Depth),是一流的佐料煙草(Condiment Tobacco),英式調配必備。選用得愈多,整個調配就會愈濃烈(Latakia 的分量並不是越多越好的。有經驗的調煙師認為,40% 到45% 是上限-- 超過這個比例,其他成份煙草就會被其強烈的風味完全掩蓋掉了,從而失去調配應有的微妙性、複雜性,變得單調而無層次,嗆人口鼻。


Trust me, it's very lucid.

What's particularly good about the Pipe Village text is the inclusion of the English terms. Not for clarity so much as education, thus enabling the Chinese pipe smoker to communicate what he or she likes, and why, to tobacconists and tobacco mavens in the rest of the world.

What the text completely ellided over was 駱駝糞 ('lok to fan').
It means 'camel dung'. Dried camel dung is not used in the manufacture of Latakia (the Cypriots lack camels in any case), but out in the country districts peasants burn whatever material they can for fuel.
One can understand how the rumour got started.

橡木 ('jeung muk'), 松木 ('song muk'), 柏木 ('baak muk'), 桃金孃 ('tou kam neung').

One other thing that could bear an English appendation is 焚香風味 ('fan heung fung mei'): "an incense-like fragrance". Which describes nicely the contribution of terpeneols, phenols, and other creosotics to the drying leaves from the fires above which they are suspended.


For further reference, here are other useful terms from Pipevillage.

Black Cavendish: 黑板煙 ('haak paan yin'). Burley: 白肋煙 ('paak lei yin'). Cavendish: 腌板煙 ('yim paan yin, "pickled plank fume"). Cigar leaf: 雪茄葉 ('suet gaa yip'; "snow eggplant leaf"). Kentucky: 肯塔基 ('hang taap kei'; "permit pagoda foundation"). Maryland tobacco: 馬里蘭煙 ('maa lei lan yin'). Oriental leaf: 東方煙草 ('tung fong yin tsou'). Perique: 珀里克 ('paak lei kat'). Turkish tobacco: 土耳其煙 ('tou yi kei yin'). Virginia: 弗吉尼亞 ('fat gat nei aa').

Balkan mixture: 巴爾幹混合 ('baa yi gon wan hap').

Body: 質地薄厚 ('jat dei bok hou'). Complexity:;層次變化 ('chang chi pin faa'). Flavouring: 香精調味 ('heung cheng diu mei'). Room note: 室韻臭香 ('sat wan chau heung'). Strength: 劲道力量 ('king dou lik leung').

Leslie Ng, who created Pipe Village, has my gratitude for creating so splendid and useful a resource.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


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