Tuesday, December 20, 2022


Over on a pipe forum readers took issue with product reviews that included descriptives like popcorn, a specific type of jelly bean, plus espresso bean, vanilla, earth, black pepper, and leather. Some products taste like barnyard, hay, grass, and horseshit.
Their irritation is understandable.

I myself describe a few of my favourite tobaccos as having a marked reek of Limburger. Solid Limburger. And prunes, because Virginia equals carotenoids. So, in short, much like elderly retiree. Though for the record I have never actually tasted elderly retiree.

This is relevant because I am reminded of when I offered Savage Kitten, who was still my girlfriend at the time, a puff off my pipe, which was an absolutely heavenly smoke, loaded with Syrian 'Three Oaks'.

[Syrian Three Oaks: a perfumy almost frankencensian mustiness, combined with a bready note, and hints of coffee bean, chocolate, and saddle leather. Very reminiscent of a fine chardonnay. J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay, 2008.]

Shortly afterwards she committed violence upon me. Because it was quite the nastiest thing she had ever experienced, worse than the durian that convinced her I was secretely performing space alien autopsies.
She still shares the apartment with me, though we have not been a couple in very many years. The tobacco had nothing to do with why we stopped being lovers, though she does consider it a nasty habit, more so than then. Her stuffed creatures also object, so I firmly shut her door when she is at work and I want to light up. The windows are all open for several hours before she returns, and I have a pot on the stove to further chase out the smell.

[BTW: we both use shrimp paste in our cooking on occasion, and she has grown more tolerant of the smell of durian. Which throws her dislike of tobacco into perspective.]

Syrian Three Oaks, compounded by Tad Gage, which used real Syrian leaf, was one of the finest English/Balkan blends available at that time, or ever. It would be a dessert island tobacco, along with Greg Pease's Westminster and Craig Tarler's Red Odessa. The amount of time one can spend hiding out on a dessert island must necessarily be finite, limited by the amount of pipe tobacco in the crate that also floated ashore because one wisely tethered it to the raft after sinking the ship. Except that my tastes changed over a decade ago and I now smoke mostly Virginias, Flakes, and Virginia Perique mixtures.

Which is where the limburger and prunes come in.

The pipe of which she took a puff was the one in the painting below.
It's one of my favourite pipes, and I still have it.
I have over a dozen tins of STO stashed.
It hasn't been made in six years.

It has been my intent that my next girlfriend should like the smell of pipe tobacco, whether or not she actually indulges. As well as enjoy cups of tea, quiet time with books and stuffed animals. And she should sensibly tolerate that there's another eccentric in the other room, because Savage Kitten is someone I trust, and when Asperger types live alone they ferment and turn queerish; both of us are somewhere on the spectrum. Sofar I have not found such a person, but I doubt that the pipe tobacco has anything to do with that. And I note in relation thereto that many women think they can change a man, and that a number of friends halfwittedly suggested years ago that if I stopped smoking I'd have better luck.
That is not a realistic suggestion by any means.

It would be impossible to think of Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Clark Gable, William Faulkner, Georges Simenon, Gerald Ford, and Jean Paul Sartre without their pipes.

There were women in all of their lives. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Of course, all of them were social butterflies.
They knew how to date.

Anyway, one of the forum members reacting to fancy review terminology probably said it best: "All I want is tobacco flavour". This is, I suspect, why Starbucks does not appeal to pipesmokers. The reek of raspberries, pumpkin spice, hazelnuts, vanilla, and candied unicorn, interferes with everything else and bollixes up one's tastebuds.
Except Ennerdale Flake. Decadence and depravity. The good old times.

"This pipe tobacco reminds me strongely of the time we crashed the Westland at Lung Kang Tao. The crates spilled open and the odour of protective oil was everywhere. And because it had rained the upturned earth stank of rotting vegetation. At the end of the field the perfume of brine and seaweed gently drifted in on the breeze ..... "

Okay, grampa, let's put you to bed now.


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