Thursday, November 14, 2019


There are times when I regret the preceding decades. I really could've done everything more intelligently, could've gotten married had kids, could've won the Nobel prize, and could've smelled better. Then I remember that the smell is fine, everyone else is defective. There is always a whiff of pipe tobacco.
And that is exactly the odour there should be.
A nineteen forties fragrance.

Yeah, I wasn't even born then.

In the eighties, I reeked a bit too. Old-fashioned tobacco blends, strong tea, and fried Indonesian chili pastes. For some reason I remember my youth as being rain-sodden and cold, but this may be entirely a subconscious influence from where I grew up, that being the Netherlands. Which has been described, along with Northern Belgium, as having the climate voted most likely to lead to depression among expats. When you're there it's normal. Grey, drenched, bog-like, and overcast; with a resident population that visually resembles Vincent van Gogh's 'The Potato Eaters', a grim bunch.

They really do look like that.

A bit less scrawny than then, as the potatoes are now usually deep-fried and served with similarly prepared snacks (frikandel, kroket, bamischijf, berenklauw, loempia), which provide insulation against the climate as well as Germans, Frenchmen, and other drunken louts, but substantially the same.

The pipes are still part of my personal perfume, along with tea, dead leaves, and wild animals. But Americans have less fondness and scant talent for deep-fry cuisine. Our French Fries are often lousy, and the less said about fried chicken or fish 'n chips, the better. We do donuts well.

Fortunately one can buy chili pastes here, as well as many of the ingredients of typical Dutch Indonesian sambals and stews.

Current smells: Virginia pipe tobacco. Salted fermented black beans. Fried spices, plus coffee, tea, ginger, and cardamom.

Don't worry. Be happy.
Eat your potato.

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