Monday, February 28, 2011


Many visitors to San Francisco Chinatown stroll down Grant Avenue, marveling at the strangeness and exoticism of the souvenir stores. Apparently they do not have souvenir stores – or teeshirts with clever slogans – where they come from.
I think they’re from Iowa. I’ve heard there’s nothing worthwhile there.
They may also be from Oakland, however.

Most residents of the greater Chinatown area do not frequent Grant Avenue very much.
Reason being that all the real stores are up on Stockton. Dry goods, bottled and canned ingredients, fresh fruit and vegetables, live seafood, fresh and preserved meats, soup fixings.....

['chung chou seng hoi mei dim']

The last time I strolled into 蟲草城 ('bug grass city') on Stockton Street, there were no other non-Cantonese people there. Which is extremely odd - there is so much on their shelves and in their bins that the good people of Iowa (or Oakland) might not have seen before. Surely they can use their cellphone cameras to capture the moment for aunt Doris back home in Iowa or Oakland? Nevertheless, every time I go there, not a tourist in sight.
Baruch Hashem.

蟲草城海味店 is located in the Old St. Mary's School building, right on the corner of Stockton and Clay, you cannot miss it. Bins of dried fish of every variety, as well as the full gamut of herbs used in tonic soups and stews.
It bills itself as the 'Stockton Seafood Center, Inc.'. There is NO fresh fish there, but if you want conpoy, or trepang, or ebi, it is absolutely THE place.
You should probably know what you want before you go in, as the staff may find explaining what they stock a little difficult - they have good reason to assume that their customers are already somewhat knowledgeable, and in any case Chinese-conversant.

['hoi sin sai gaai']

Stockton Street is also where you can find fresh eels. If you love Paling Int Groen ("anguilles au vert") as much as I do, you should know this.
In fact, you may have purchased 黄带 several times already.
Alas, fresh sorrel is NOT available on Stockton Street - it isn't a traditional Chinese ingredient - but you can order it from some of the food stores elsewhere in the city. It does not keep for more than a day, so simply chop it up and cook it with a little olive oil till it softens, then freeze it for later use.
For the tarragon, you should probably grow it in a window box. A little bit goes a long way.

Eels, by the way, are also very good with mashed fermented blackbeans. Just add plenty of garlic, and frazzle up the chunks with wine and chopped bellpepper. They will add their own rich gelatin to the sauce.

海鲜世界 is on the West Side of Stockton Street, between Jackson and Pacific, framed by Pacific Seafood Trading Co. and Family Depot. I don't believe it has an English name, hence the creative reading I have given for the characters, which actually should be translated as 'fresh seafood world'.

There is much more there than just eel, they also have a good selection of fresh-caught fish, and different sizes of shrimp, crab, shellfish, lobster.
Live usually costs about twice the price of the recently deceased, varying slightly based on availability.

['daai faat yan sam hoi mei hong']

This is a primary resource for ingredients used in tonic soups, as well as dried fruits, various luxury ingredients, plus hair vegetable, tofu skin sticks, soy bean sheet, gon taufu, preserved pork strips, lapcheung, dried abalone, etcetera.
The San Francisco Chinatown location has only been open a short time, just up from Stark Alley, between Broadway and Pacific. I believe they have a somewhat longer history in Oakland C'town.
Very attentive staff, fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin.

NOTE: Next post will be about eating on Stockton Street.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Years ago one of my Indies uncles told me that when he was growing up in the montaine area of Western Java, local amateur performers would tour the town on the holidays of each cultural community and play music as requested. The instruments were often old brass band pieces, scratchy violins, native reed instruments. Plus a drum and gong.
Or mostly drums and gongs and the odd trumpet.
Such an ensemble was called a 'ronsebons'.

The repertoire consisted of tunes from the Indies-Portuguese, Dutch army marches, dance music...... and local variations, interpretations, inventions. The full Betawi music selection, in other words. As much as the talents and application of the musicians could encompass.
It was all music suitable for the breaking of the fast for Muslims, Christmas for Dutch and Chinese, Chinese New Year, the queen's birthday.....

Often there were melodies recognizable to everyone. La Marseillaise. The Wilhelmus. God Save the King.

And Marching Through Georgia.

As Oom ('uncle') Haak explained it, you have never experienced Marching Through Georgia until you've heard it performed on rebab, klintang, and rattle-drum, with a bamboo flute.

Marching through Georgia is a tune that transcended its origin very fast and very widely.
The lyrics have not always stayed true.


The Japanese version is an Enka classic dating from the early Taisho era.
It's a song gently jabbing at local culture in the capitol city, written by Satsuki Soeda in the second decade of the twentieth century.

Both Japanese versions below feature female vocalists.


At this point you probably understand two things.

ONE: the reason why an adhoc brass band is called a 'ronsebons' in East-Indies Dutch. More charmingly rouncy-bouncy than the performance of these young ladies it can scarcely get.

TWO: why the next version is almost unbearably cute.


The anime version is from 'Taisho Era Baseball Girl' (大正野球娘 Taisho Yakyu Musume - "Greatly Righteous, field ball, maiden"), about two teenage highschool girls in 1925 who decide to form a baseball team to overcome rigid gender roles and the stereotyping of women.
Yes, it's kawaii to da max.

[Lyrics here:
Please do sing along. ]


I don't know about you, but after watching that first video several times, I want that all-girl ronsebons to tour the United States. That's one dynamite act.
We need them in San Francisco.

No, I have NO idea why the lead singer holds a large stuffed pig. Or is that a bunny rabbit?
But it's essential; it's coming too!

They also did a version of Hava Nagila. It can be seen here:

Minority Orchestra:

NOTE: It actually isn't "fight - fight - fight" but "painopainopai".
I have no clue what that means.
Nor do I understand why it seems to be about food.

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

Friday, February 25, 2011


I share my apartment with a simian. A robustly recalcitrant simian. Like the sock sheep, he attempts to steal my laundry money while I’m at work, and demands to borrow my credit card. He wishes to purchase a banana plantation on the internet.

He has never actually succeeded at any of his dastardly plots. The laundry money is safe, because, like the small blue faced sock sheep, he can’t climb very well. The laundry money is up on a shelf – when I return in the evening, I often find the two of them tuckered out at the bottom of the bookcase.

Recently the monkey has been tormenting the froad (“weird green flippery guy”) mercilessly.
He avers that the froad has bug breath, and a gas problem, bloats up like a balloon and floats down the hall looking like a blowfish. A froad about to explode is not a pretty sight.
And those smells! Really quite frightful - why DO you have a stinky amphibian living here, big guy?

The monkey is taking advantage of Ms. Bruin’s apathy and grumpiness – she’s been rather abstracted since relations changed at our house. Normally the senior Teddy Bear would call him to order, but she’s been grumbling to herself lately, and refuses to exercise her authority.
It has not been peaceful – the monkey isn’t the only critter to act up, but he is by far the worst.
I will not bribe him with bananas.


I mention all this because a number of people have remarked that I need a girlfriend.
They have read this blog, and they worry about my mental health and emotional well-being.
Either that, or my sex-life.

Perhaps I should start dating again?

The idea does indeed appeal.
Except that I have certain exacting “specifications”.
Not just any girl will do. She has to satisfy precise criteria.

Intelligent, with deep-ranging interests - I wouldn’t mind at all someone with a degree in mediaeval studies or studying some obscure literary field.
And a young lady who is capable in another language would be splendid - certain European and Asian languages are natural candidates.
Bright eyes, no taller than five foot five or six.

Other than that, I am not at all sure how else to describe the ideal woman.

There is ONE very important consideratum, however, that cannot be overlooked:

The little guy is full of piss and vinegar, he’s running me ragged.
The other roomies would also appreciate some help.
Especially the weird green flippery guy.

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


Moammer El-Gaddafi held a speech for the true believers yesterday, including (we've heard) several cadres in the upper echelons of International ANSWER, and several verkrampte Jew-hating Presbyterians from Oakland.
They devoured his words.

For those of you who have absolutely NO patience, and would rather do something else than listen to an hour's worth of insane Arab gibbering, this blogger is pleased to present the highlights of that talk.


"AlQaeda put LSD in the Nescafe! NBC, BBC, and CNN are all AlQaeda agents!
They're all drunk, drugged, and disorderly! Defend the 1969 revolution!

I am a better queen than Elizabeth! My dresses are more manly!

I am Gaddafi, the Great Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya!

And sweet Jesus, I am crazier than batshit! "


In case you were wondering why JVP, International ANSWER, the savage Presbyterians from Oakland, as well as psychopaths from the Berkeley campus, were NOT demonstrating their support for the Libyan protestors recently in downtown San Francisco, now you know.

They love the Great Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. He's on their side.

It doesn't mean anything if their friends kill people.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011


At times I wish I could do the Jedi Mind Trick. Most often this is when I'm on the bus to work.
I don't quite understand it, but the Number One California line always seems to suffer from out-in-the-avenues types. People from a kinder, gentler America, where there is lots of open space, everybody still wears a tie to work, and if you get on a bus you are the ONLY person riding that day.


Some of these law-office drones heading in to the Embarcadero Center just do not understand that other people need to ride too. Once they have gotten on, surely the bus is full? Why would there be any reason to let other people on? Why move even one step further in?

There is, early in the morning, nothing quite so objectionable as someone with three hands holding a steaming cup of Starbucks (spill that on me and I will force you to eat your nose), a cell-phone, and a large briefcase. Perhaps, if they had put their fourth arm on that day, they could also hold on to something when the bus moves again.
Or stick a finger up their nose to flick the on-switch for their brain.


Once the bus crosses Van Ness Avenue, all outer-avenues thought processes cease. They can see the throng of Chinese at the Polk, Larkin, Hyde Street stops, but it never dawns on them that those people intend to get on also.
Even if there is a HUGE AMOUNT OF SPACE in the back of the bus - the entire aisle from seat four to fifty four - it would be unreasonable to let anyone else board.
Important law-office employees and bankers have precedence. Doesn't everyone know that?


For me, this is usually not a problem. I just push my way in, saying "excuse me" in a tone that brooks no opposition. And really, I don't mind being in close contact with these dipwads, as I will need a crumple zone if the bus comes to a screeching stop.
I think that might be all they're good for anyway. Spongy buffering.
The reason I wish I could perform the Jedi Mind Trick is so that the elderly aunties getting on at the same time could find a seat. It just isn't reasonable that some twenty-something dipwad wearing a JC Penney tie and stain-resistant slacks should continue texting, instead of getting up.

"You will move to the back of the bus, you will move to the back of the bus!"

"Yes, Lord Vader."

"You will NOT clusterfudge in front of the rear exit, you will NOT clusterfudge in front of the rear exit!"

"Yes, Lord Vader."

"You will wear decent ties, you will wear decent ties."

"Eh, Lord Vader?"

The other two buses I ride regularly don't have this problem. Folks on the bus up Pacific Avenue back from C'town make room for everyone, and riders who take the 30 Stockton know that space is limited. It's just the office workers on the number one who are selfishly blind, stupidly inconsiderate.
They don't want THEIR bus to stop in Chinatown. Ever.


The title of this post is by Sara, who thus commented on one of my posts.
It's a lovely phrase. Very evocative. Suggestive even.
Ever since, I've been curious about the kind of person who would write that, but alas, she has not yet elected to publicly share her Profile.
If I continue to play mind games, maybe she'll eventually succumb.

Meantime, I'll content myself by radiating Darth-Vaderish negativity at the other passengers on the bus. Some of them are so dipwadly gifted that it's just got to work.

If they prove too dense even to pick up on my vibes, I can always scream "move to the back of the bus, moron!"

I am a crazy white man. They would do well to fear me.

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


As regular readers and frustrated colleagues know, I circulated an innocent little numeric brainteaser a few days ago.
It provoked some people. Not, alas, to exercise their mathematical skills, but rather to wax wroth in my general direction.
Which I must say was not without entertainment value.
I enjoyed their irate hyperbole.

There there, slow people, there there!

I had mentioned, when posing the puzzle, that to a Dutchman the answer was obvious.
Likewise, Chinese people, Germans, Indians (especially Gujaratis), Jewish people, Hungarians, Scotts, Swiss individuals, plus Vulcans and Ferenghi would also quite likely spot the solution.

[Testing of schoolchildren under the auspices of the United Nations has shown that there are several countries whose students excel at math. For several years the Dutch and the Hungarians would trade places among the top three or four. Americans, of course, were not even in the top ten percent worldwide. Some languages are just more conducive to numeric thinking than English, I guess.]

1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 25.

The puzzle was this: What do these numbers represent?
Or, what is it that makes them a logical series?

When no-one spotted it, I offered a few other series which reflected the same pattern.

Second series:
1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 41, 42, 46, 50.

Third series:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 55, 59, 63, 67, 71, 75.

Fourth series:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 87, 88, 91, 92, 96, 100.

The number of possible series is in fact infinite.

The fifth series starts with 2, so does the sixth series. The seventh series starts with 3.
In Canada, the eighth series starts with 1, but in the United States it starts with 2.


Several years ago I worked at an Indian restaurant here in the city as bookkeeper / cashier.
You see, I'm pretty good with numbers, unlike most Americans. It's a skill which is probably more useful than knowing baseball statistics, though not so common.

At the end of the evening, the tip jar would be emptied, and the headwaiter (a Punjabi) would divide the loot for the rest of the staff, that being mostly Gujaratis..... plus myself..... and one horribly belligerent and argumentative Tamil woman.
That frightful churail became livid if the headwaiter gave me more than a dollar or two, insisting that her having personally insulted customers face to face merited a far greater share of the tips than any amount of brainwork and attention to detail from a gaura.
Whatever I got was diminishing her share!

After I expressed my irritation at her meddlesome yelping, the headwaiter and the Gujaratis came up with a marvelous solution:
I was not to change the coins in the tip jar on a busy evening. Instead, just leave them be - the frightful South-Indian she-camel paid no attention to loose change. At the end of the night, in addition to the few dollars that the foul-smelling daughter of an owl would allow the headwaiter to give me without screaming bloody murder, he would yield the coins.
Then, while he argued (fought) with her over who else should get how much, I would quietly change them for dollar bills.
The cash register could always use extra coins.

It was a marvelous arrangement. It lasted for several years.

I really do believe that that female ghoul learned how to count over here, rather than in India.


Now, why is all of this germane?

Simple. The solution to the puzzle is that the first series are the number of coins which equal one quarter.
The second series, two quarters.
The third series, three quarters.
Fourth series, a dollar.
And so on.

The reason why the eighth series starts with 1 in Canada should be obvious.

Visually one can easily count out coins in units of five, twenty five, four times twenty five........
If your fingers cannot recognize differences among coins, you may be "special".
Surely everyone dreams in numbers, tally sheets, percentages?
Cowrie shells?
Nuance? Detail? Fine distinctions?

You DO count your change at the store, don't you?!?!

Please stay tuned to this site for a disquisition on how to use an Abacus. It's easy.

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


One of the blogs that I read during lunch only publishes one or two posts a week.
Often they are music-related.
And while I often have no clue what the lyrics are, the tunes themselves have a certain beguiling quality.
Jazzy, cheerfully rambunctious.

I present for your listening pleasure some selections found on the Search for Emes, as an audible portrait of that blogger.




The Search for Emes used to post slightly more often than he does today.
Still, you should cruise in at least once a week. If there isn't anything new there at the moment, read some of the old stuff.
You will not be bored, and you may see things you could not imagine.

I'll frankly admit that my mind has been expanded.
Hope yours will be too.

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


The more of it I have, the more it grows on me!
No, this is not about athletes foot, or similar fungoid experiences. We shall not describe such things on this blog. That would be unpleasant, and you, dear reader, are probably eating lunch right now as you read this.
No toe-mold for you. At least not now.

I am flattered that I am one of your daily reads, but also somewhat disturbed that I am competing for your attention with the meatballs in that toasted roll.
Did you at least add hot sauce?

My subject today is a broken flake with a leaping whale on the label.

McClelland Tobacco Company

Tin blurb:Rich, dark maduro cigar leaf blended with matured red and stoved Virginia tobaccos. Pressed in cakes and aged to develop character and marry the flavors, then cut in flakes to be rubbed out to the smoker’s preference.

Initially I wasn’t impressed. The freshly opened tin smelled like almost all other offerings by McClelland, and most of their flakes show a significant family resemblance.
A slightly sour reek from the vegetable matter before being lit, a tanginess to the smoke after.

But this is rather good stuff. Not an exceptionally broad flavor spectrum, but still quite satisfying, more so a few bowls in.
Like all well-balanced blends containing cigar leaf, the cheroot-like edge it must have had when first compounded has been subdued by the other tobaccos, and is now a pleasant hint. Present, but very diplomatic. This is not a tobacco that bashes you over the cranium.
Given that I normally prefer reeky English blends, I would not include this in my regular rotation. But a smoker of flakes and vapers would be well-advised to acquire a few tins. It’s an enjoyable change of pace, and a very well made product.
I have no idea what the room note is like, as I’ve been smoking this outside.
After every bowlful I’ve come back to work a happy man.

The other tobacco I’ve been indulging in recently is Bracken Flake by Samuel Gawith, which is a dark dark dark fermentation that smells tarry, sweetish, and rotten.
Strong, but satisfying. Catches the throat a bit, but like all Gawith products, it is quite excellent .

Do NOT smoke it while teetering on a ladder.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Stay away from the white ones – coconut. Cheap air freshener coconut.
They taste nasty! Like biting into a whorehouse!

But where was I ….. ?

Oh yeah, the puzzle.
I posed a little number question to various colleagues last week.
On Friday I threatened to send a third series of numbers, which would make everything clear.

[For those just tuning in, the puzzle is this: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 25.
What do these numbers represent? Or, what is it that makes them a logical series? The second series of numbers is 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 41, 42, 46, 50. Same logic behind this series as the first.]

My colleagues have not figured it out. And yet..... it's SO obvious!

Third series:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 55, 59, 63, 67, 71, 75.

Folks, the answer(s) should be absolutely clear now.

Or maybe not.

One of my coworkers (Bawiji) wrote "If there is a 4th series I will inflict great bodily harm upon you".

What a remarkable coincidence.
There actually IS a fourth series!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 87, 88, 91, 92, 96, 100.

Bawiji's response to this was "I am ignoring you. Go away. Isn't there any traffic outside that you can cavort in?"

There are actually an infinite number of series.
They all have two (2) signal characteristics - bonus points for defining those characteristics.

My imparting this last little fact has induced one of my coworkers to hit the bottle ("double fisting right now"), and another is scanning the street outside "for a kitten to squeeze. Hard".

I have been told that there are plans for a support group with card tables, folding chairs, cheap wine, crackers and name tags as soon as this ends.

I probably don’t need to tell you that I’m enjoying this immensely.

"If there is a 4th series I will inflict great bodily harm upon you"

Please look at these four series of numbers. What logic ties the numbers together, why are these series similar? What are these numbers?

1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 25.

1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 41, 42, 46, 50.

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 55, 59, 63, 67, 71, 75.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 87, 88, 91, 92, 96, 100.

Go on - you know the answer.

Please post it to my LETTER BOX.

What you write will not be shown, so as not to spoil it for anybody else.
Everybody who thinks they got it will be acknowledged when I give the solution.
At which point, I expect that there will be howls.

Feel free to leave your witty remarks, or tease the slow people, in the usual comment field.

BTW - I was eating some candy when I started writing this post.
In case you were wondering what it was that tasted like bordello solution.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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I understand what the moral issues are regarding shark fin soup, and why some people are opposed to the harvesting practices.
Nevertheless, after reading hundreds of out and out racist comments, by writers who arrogantly flaunt their bigotries and their absolutely blinding ignorance, feeling of superiority, and sense of self-importance, I have only one thing to say.


What gives you people the right to tell anyone else what to eat?

Yes, I know that you think your culture is superior to everything on the planet, but let’s face it, your priggish self-satisfaction and puritanical judgmentalism is enough to make one puke.
Your suburbs, with all the same junk food restaurants and identical chain-stores, as well as your big four wheel drives and suvs, heck, your sheer vulgarity and sneering self-satisfaction, are far more destructive of the quality of life, and indicative of cultural bankruptcy, than anything going on in San Francisco restaurants, with the possible exception of Vegan places catering to pasty-faced hypocrites from the Midwest and pretentious sods who are into saving the planet by shopping for designer green crap.
Your culture sucks. And you probably watch ‘friends’.

Really. Just shut up. I’ve sold food to you folks, I know what you’re like.

You are not entitled to tell other people what to eat.

I know it fits in with your entire world-view to do so, and also accords with the idea you have that you are on this planet to teach lesser mortals what to think, what to wear, and what to buy.

But you’re wrong.

Just shut up.

And as for you young hip twenty-somethings who have fled here, and keep congratulating yourself on how cutting edge you are, please swill your fair-trade coffee in silence, and wash those damned Guatamalan rags once in a while. You stink.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011


The San Francisco Examiner has jumped on the sharkfin soup bandwagon, in an article which seems to deliberately portray Chinese culinary practices as rather distasteful.
Although that may just be my interpretation.
I am, after all, deeply distrustful of the SF Examiner.

[Article here: ]


What is, however, NOT a matter of interpretation is that the comments underneath that article are heading into predictable white superiority complex territory. Which is standard for the shark fin issue.

"We are wiping out apex predators in the name of soup? I don't know what they do in the far east, but here we actually have laws against animal cruelty and environmental degradation. It's inexcusable that Yee is defending animal mutilation just to appease Chinese business interests. I hope he feels ashamed. I'll certainly never vote for him again."
--- Patrick Schlemmer

A classic example of sneeringly insulting superiorist rhetoric.
Patrick Schlemmer here proves himself quite pustulent.
I wish ill upon him in the form of hereditary diseases.

"Okay racist, tree hugging whiteys........ why don't you make a stink about white folks at rodeos and hog tying cows. Typical racist pigs."
--- Sick of White Trash

Not really germane, but I can appreciate the sentiment. It's eloquent, too.
Selective outrage is, in fact, one of the hallmarks of racism and bigotry, and many racist tree hugging whiteys are typically quite disgusted by Chinese practices (even merely imagined ones) while remaining blithely apathetic about similar sins of which they themselves may be guilty.
Certainly what goes on in America's meat industry is far more deserving of condemnation than the shark fin issue - it's much closer to home, perpetrated by Americans, and often subsidized by State and Federal governments. Additionally, the degradation of the environment by agribusiness is thoroughly horrendous......
Can I get an 'amen'?

Some people cannot resist their own worst instincts. Consider this doozy:

"Throwing in the race card for a politican is weak. Any culture that dessimates a species on this planet is a BAD culture and must be stopped. You know nothing of actual "culture". You know about greed and unsustainability of our oceans! If a culture is wiping out our fish and destroying our oceans, don't you think it is a BAD culture. Shame on your weak and cowardly race card tactic! Wake up greedy boy or if you are missing your so-called culture...go back home!"
--- Valarie Oloman

Given that Euro-American culture is responsible for far more extinctions than all other cultures combined, I hope that in ms. Oloman's tiny little peabrain, white culture also "is a BAD culture and must be stopped".
But I doubt it. Her comment does not suggest that she has that breadth of vision.

The accusation that 'you' (by whom I think she means Leland Yee in particular and Chinese people in general) know nothing of actual "culture" suggests that she believes only her own culture to be culture, all others to be mere barbarisms. She doesn't actually say it outright, but that attitude underlies her entire statement, and her contemptuous regard is highlighted by her then calling either Leland Yee in particular or Chinese people in general "weak and cowardly".

Adding to her pile of bile, she then calls someone a 'boy' - not a man, but a mere child, an immature person - indicating a depreciatory attitude towards either Leland Yee in particular or Chinese people in general, following which she refers to his or their culture as "so-called".
In her view, theirs isn't a worthwhile culture - only her culture is worthy of the name.

Then she tells him or them to go back home. The message is that they do not belong here. This is not their place.
It is, of course, what nativists have always yelled at people they considered inferior and not like them. The Irish heard it, so did the Jews, Mexicans, Poles, Italians, Armenians......
Even African-Americans have had it screamed at them, right before being pelted with rocks for daring to go to school or vote.
Apparently it's still acceptable to say it to Asian Americans.


I would like to point out that all those East-Coast carpetbaggers who flocked out west in the last few decades do not belong here. It was opportunism, greed, and laziness that made them come.
They have ruined the quality of life we had in California, while contributing little more than knavery, vulgarity, and venereal diseases.
Same goes for most of the Europeans.

Please, all of you stupid New-Englanders, Midwesterners, Southerners, and Eurotrash - GO HOME!

We do not need any more redneck exclusionary white trash racism here, we've got quite enough dumbass bigots already.
G'wan, piss off.
And please take your New York pizza, Yankee pot roast, Boston buggery cream pie, and stinking Philly Cheese Steaks with you.

The last racist word, of course, goes to a moron:
"Sick of barbarian clods who will eat anything regardless of consequnces."--- Canecarrier

[Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: ]
The only possible response to Canecarrier is "oh go 'fondle' yourself, you nauseating old bigot. The city is filled with your type. With a bit of luck, you will all die of mad-cow, or food-poisoning from supermarket chicken and hot dogs. "
Undoubtedly, his mother was a hamster and his father smelled of elderberries.


There are, of course, a few other choice quotes that seem relevant here.
Very "white" quotes.

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"[Matthew 7:3]

"Therefore thou art IN-excusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."[Romans 2:1]

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."[Luke 6:37]

Damn, some of these shark fin soup haters are smarmy ignorant sows.
I hope they all choke on their wheatgrass.

NOTE: For more about shark fin soup, please see this post:
Comments welcome.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


My roommate is clueless about female beauty. She has absolutely no idea what men find attractive.
This is a common female affliction which works very much to the advantage of men, by the way.

I remarked yesterday that I completely agreed with her boyfriend that the winner of the Miss Chinatown Pageant was less than impressive.
Clearly that man has taste.
I also said that in my mind, there was only ONE really pretty woman among the lot of them.

The result of this statement has been entertaining. Gratifying, even.
Savage Kitten (the roommate) is now desperate to find out which of the contestants I thought good looking. She is frustrated, because I cannot remember the name of that person, and she has asked me all kinds of questions.
Not knowing irritates her no end. She is determined to find out who it is.
I am NOT going to tell her.

It has never dawned on her that the combination of good features, an expressive face, and eyes that reflect a keen intelligence is precisely what appeals.
Always has been. The eyes especially.
So it really isn’t that hard to figure out.

I’m thoroughly enjoying her frustration. I’m going to keep it alive as long as possible.

Torturing that woman can be great fun.

Earlier she had fiercely insisted that she was NOT stubborn. Indignantly howling at me about her complete and utter lack of stubbornness, how dare I agree with her boyfriend that she was the most stubborn creature in the universe, it was wrong wrong wrong! Not stubborn at all!
In the face of all evidence to the contrary, she stubbornly insists that she is, in fact, meek and yielding.
If an unmovable object can be described as ‘meek and yielding’, I suppose she’s right.

Simply whispering the word ‘stubborn’ at opportune moments now sets off very entertaining outrage.
Screeches, snarls, and furious objections.

“I am NOT stubborn!”Actually, sweet pea, you are. You are incredibly stubborn.

“I am NOT!!!”
Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn!

And your boy friend thinks so too - he's the one who described you as an 'unmovable object'.


Convinced that she is not at all stubborn, she absolutely refuses to yield the point, so this game could go on for a long time.
I just have to remember not to torment her when she’s holding something she can throw.
Her aim is excellent.

Curiosity and stubbornness are virtues.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


She intended to drive him to whatever event the other Aspergers had planned for today. But it wasn't in the cards.

She had the flu.

This wasn't the normal flu - it was the shivering, aching, I''m about to faint flu.
I had the same flu three months ago.
Getting home on the cable car that day was torturous - the notorious bore was on board, and for almost ten blocks I avoided eye contact, evaded any kind of acknowledgement - lest an antiquated sad-sack failure drench me with details of his miserable existence (prior to the invention of the cable-car, of course).
I've heard him several times - he finds a victim, and tells them about his life - it's always the same shpiel. Where he worked, which celebrities he knew, their amazing peculiarities, my heavens those were the days. Excruciating.

She was dressed to kill. Damn, she was hot hot hot! Yet she looked like hell warmed over. It took energetic persuading to keep her from driving to the Marina. She would have fainted before she even got half-way there, that bad, caused an accident.
Did I ever mention that she is the most stubborn person I know?
We walked back from where she parked the car together. Slow moving, step by step, holding her up and patiently guiding her in the rain.
It's a miracle that she got home.

She's asleep now, boruch Hashem.

I didn't get to the office as I planned. I stayed with her all day. She's in my bed now, sweaty and semi-delirious. She feels cold, so cold, so cold - there are several layers of warm cover on top of her.
She'll recover tomorrow - this flu takes about a two days.....

I spoke with him this evening. He's glad that someone is taking care of her.
Well, she's still my friend. I want that girl to be better.
And really, she should be healthy. Happy.

She'll be fine.

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

Friday, February 18, 2011


On a day like today you don’t really want to go out. You just want to sit at your desk and grumble about the weather, and how there are no good food places near the office.
And by “near the office”, you really mean ‘parked in the lobby to the left of the bank of elevators’.
How about a hot-soup seller right next to the front desk - instead of a grim security person and a sign saying "cuidado, piso mojado", a twinkling Vietnamese woman selling hot noodle soup with sliced meats, basil, cilantro, lime, and beansprouts?


At some point soon, the enterprising Mexican gentlemen on Mission Street who operate the sausage carts will discover that there is a captive audience in the financial district. Imagine the wonderful fragrance of grilling chorizo de juicy smoked Puerco wrapped in bacon, plus onions, chilies..... wafting out from the streetside niche where the ATM machine is, or from the empty doorway of the Savings and Loan that went out of business.

I just returned from my mid-day pipe in the archways of Citibank Plaza. Dark red and stoved flake with Dominican cigar leaf in the press - it wasn't that good. But the nose was intriguing.
My feet feel cold and nasty. It’s grey out, and chilly.

I find it immensely cheering to know that the suburbanites who will be coming in to town tomorrow afternoon to assure themselves of a good spot on Market Street several hours before the parade starts will have a much more miserable time. They’ll be cold. They’ll be wet. They’ll be trembling and hungry. For several hours. The collective aroma will be reminiscent of wet dog. A thousandfold wet dog.

The operative concept here is schadenfreude.
I'll be gloating in my warm dry office several floors above the pungent crowd.
Neener neener freezing neener!

Perhaps the Mexican gentlemen from Mission Street (who operate the sausage carts) should set up shop. Imagine the smell of grilling chorizo de juicy smoked Puerco…….. they’ll do a booming business.
This is San Francisco. Bacon-wrapped sausages on the grill should be a part of every celebration. Along with Vietnamese women selling hot noodle soup, fragrant with basil leaves.

Why AREN'T there any good eateries in the lobby downstairs? It's so intuitive!

Some poached fish would be very nice right now.
A drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil, some scallion, and sprigs of cilantro.
Plus green chilies on the side.
And a big bowl of rice!

I think I'll drop by Chinatown today or tomorrow. Stockton Street. Pick up a live fish.
It will still be trying to fight its way out of the bag when I get home.
I've got all the fixings. As well as a large pot.
Don't try to stop me.

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


I sent out a puzzle to my colleagues recently. And honestly, I thought the answer would be completely obvious after some thought.
It turns out I may have been mistaken. To a Dutchman it could be obvious – we’re notorious number fiends - but my colleagues are NOT Dutch.
Not even close – the Chinese / German / Indian / Jewish / Hungarian / Scottish / Swiss quotient here is rather on the short side.

[Note: There are no Vulcans or Ferengi on staff that I know of. But they may be in drag.]

Yes, one Indian was on the receiving end, but as she strenuously avoids all things Gujerati, including even their repulsive thought processes, she too was baffled.

[She isn’t Punjabi or Bonglowalli either.]

What do these numbers represent?
Or, what is it that makes them a logical series?

1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 25.

Surely you can see it?


Here's a MAJOR clue - the second series. Same process as the first.

1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 41, 42, 46, 50.

Please think about this. If absolutely necessary, I will post a THIRD series of numbers in a few days, which should make it glaringly, blatantly, over-the-top easy to figure out.
You will slap you're face and go 'tisssch!'

So far, the responses have been educational.

Person A.: "I'm not that smart."
Person C.: "These are the numbers of your favorite hockey players."
Person D.: "You don't know how to count, and have trouble getting all the numbers even!"
Person E.: "The fingers you hold up when ordering dimsum."
Person G.: "Lyrics to a song by ‘They Might Be Giants’. "
Person H.: "How many zookeepers it takes to hold up the python."
Person J.: "Total and complete paranoia! You need help!"

[I haven't paid attention to hockey since high school. Imagine, please, the sheer insanity of giving thirty hormonally overloaded aggressive teenagers a curved piece of wood and a hard ball, and telling them to spend the next two hours running around a muddy field with NO supervision. I'm surprised not more of us ended up crippled for life. So no, there is no hockey connection.]

If you, dear reader, have the answer, please post it to my LETTER BOX.
What you write will not be shown, so as not to spoil it for anybody else.
Everybody who thinks they got it will be acknowledged when I give the solution.
At which point, I expect that there will be howls.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011


If you work in an office building, you are at the mercy of whoever has access to the intercom. Which may be building management, the building engineers, or some bozo.

The person here who tells us about the monthly fire alarm testing is irritatingly loquacious.

Fortunately, it takes place when I am the only one left in the office.

I've often wondered what goes on in his brain. And whether he has an off-switch.


And on that note, let's speculate about public service announcements you do NOT want to hear when you are at the office.

"Will the owner of the red corvette please come downstairs - parking enforcement is about to tow it away, with your wife still in it."

"A fire is burning out of control on the second floor - please evacuate floors three through forty immediately - remember to use the stairs."

"Holiday wine and cheese reception in the third floor conference room - where AA normally meets at this time."

"Do not flush until further notice - there's a problem."

"Do not be alarmed - that sound was elevator #2 crashing. All other elevators are still operational."

I do not wish to imply that our building is badly managed, or that things often go wrong.
Merely that I have doubts about the smarts of some of the people who work here.
Myself entirely excluded.


Sometimes I wish my apartment had a public address system.
I could've warned me away from some the stupider things I've done.

Recent rainy day food experiments, for instance.

Seedless grapes and sliced jalapeños with blue cheese melted over.
Spam and jam - a whole jar of habañero jam, an entire can of Spam.
Corn-chipotle chowder. With crunchy hot-sauce toasted croutons.
Deep-fried shredded wheat biscuits, dusted with cayenne.

And lastly, sour cream and onion chips wrapped in a tortilla and drenched with Tabasco.

[It's simple. You need the tortilla to keep the chips from getting soggy.]

All of these experiments happened during inclement weather, when it was far too miserable outside to go food-shopping.
I just rooted around on the shelves and put together a snack with bold flavours, and textural appeal.
Then added to it ( I have an extensive selection of condiments).
The results were often delicious. Highly recommended!

A time came when I regretted what I ate.

I'm trying to figure it out.
Perhaps the common denominator here is rain.
These things always happened when it was pouring outside.
Rain influences the digestive system. Gout, acid, and worse.
And rain is depressing, which also affects the stomach.
I don't like wet.

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


One of my personal rules is that one should regularly eat something new - food experimentation broadens the mind, and leads to pleasing discoveries.
So at least once a week I will go to a restaurant where I haven't yet been, and I also budget for ingredients that I have never used before.

Sometimes, after I have spent more than an hour cooking, food goes into the garbage can .

Sometimes it goes into my mouth and stomach, when it really should have gone into the garbage can.

I shall not tell you what I ate last night. Even though it is the reason why I arrived at the office hours ahead of my usual schedule.
Suffice to say that it involved no less than THREE hotsauces.
It was very good.

This morning, feeling PERFECTLY FINE, I got up at my usual hour and fixed myself a cup of coffee. And that, my friends, was a mistake – an unavoidable one (because I really require caffeine at that hour).

She (Savage Kitten, roommate and erstwhile significant other) also got up. And decided to wash her car.
Bear in mind that it wasn’t even light out, and not even the birds behind the building were awake yet. Pitchblack, at a time when normal people drowsily drink their coffee and think of heading to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, washing the car involves the bathroom. And the cootch bucket.

[The cootch bucket was described in this post:
At that time she was still my significant other, in case you're confused about our relationship after rereading that piece. We still live in the same apartment as friends and roommates, and we still have the cootch bucket. Some things remain constant.
One of them being, as you no doubt understand, cootch bucket.]

While she was busy washing her car - going in and out with bucketfulls of water - I was in the teevee room sucking down my morning coffee. Coffee wakes a body up, stimulating natural processes.
Little known fact: After a good night's sleep, any liquid at all re-angrifies an excess of hot pepper. The moisture revives the evil little particles that were perfectly quiescent, hiding in the nooks and grannies of the digestive system..... just waiting for 'rain'.

I really need the bathroom now, but she's using it. I'm a gentleman.

Man, she's really scrubbing that car clean. Betcha it's gonna sparkle.

I should mention that it's pouring cats and dogs out there. That car will get rinsed no matter what.

It's dark, ice cold, and savagely cloudbursting. A normal woman would be curled up in a warm bed still twiddling her toes.

For heavens sakes, she went all the way over to where she had parked, in a storm, to drive the car back to our street. Without any second thoughts or doubts about the sanity of washing her car at this time.

What if I invade the bathroom screaming that it's an emergency, perhaps the second coming, let me in or we'll both regret it?

I could curl up in a ball on the floor biting my fingers and moaning like a baby. That might help.

Two of those hotsauces were completely new to me. At least one of them is a biohazard.

Maybe hysterics and a weeping fit would help right now?

My knuckles have turned white. I'm vibrating.


Perhaps the snack earlier in the evening wasn't such a good idea either. Potato chips wrapped in a tortilla and drenched with Tabasco.

I think you understand how it is that I am at the office far earlier than normal.


No, I'm STILL not going to tell you what I had for dinner. You'll just have to do what I did, and discover on your own that it wasn't such a good idea.
In order to learn, we each have to make our own mistakes.

I can't wait till you make yours, though.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


While I wait on the phone I doodle. Sometimes I have to wait for several minutes, as the person I really need to speak with may be talking to a customer, or rumaging through his papers to find the invoice that is the subject of my call.
At least, I hope it’s one of those two possibilities.

I hate to hear a flushing sound. It may be unintended, but it tells me that the person on the other end of the line is not treating this discussion with the gravitas it deserves. I really do not mind people multitasking, but what if he or she needs to take notes? What are they going to clap to their face to hold up the phone?

I doodle as I wait. Sometimes the doodle is better than the conversation.

Not all days are equally productive.

The clients, they are wiley.

Patience is a virtue.

My pen is sharp, my pad is smooth, my ears are ready to hear clean things.
Answer the phone, please. You know I'll just keep calling otherwise.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Over the weekend I saw an article about a bunch of LGBT activists who harass sellers and purchasers of live fowl down at the Civic Center farmers market on Wednesdays and Sundays.
They are appalled that living animals are sold. Why can't 'those people' buy old dead grey supermarket spongy meat like everybody else!?!

It struck me that objecting to the culinary customs of Asians is a very white thing to do.
As well as very Californian.

Years ago I remember protestors outside a Chinatown food emporium screaming in outrage because live animals were being sold there. They were really upset that Chinese people eat animals. One woman got into an argument with a customer and started yelling about “barbaric f*&^ing foreigners”, and how everybody should act American.
It was, of course, typically San Franciscan.

There have been other protests against Chinese habits. Many activists genuinely cannot understand why being offensive, and insulting other people, can actually be considered offensive and insulting.

It's sincere! And for a good cause!

The self-appointed guardians of the Great White Way love their less-than-white fellow-Americans.
Right up to the point where 'those people' stop acknowledging superiority.


In that vein, there are a huge number of comments on various internet fora discussing the proposed ban on the sale and distribution of shark fin in California that demonstrate a certain level of arrogance.
Bigotry, even. And outright cultural hatred.

Until I read the rhetoric which many concerned San Franciscans had spewn, I too was somewhat opposed to sharkfin soup.
It has its place, but certain practices definitely need to be limited.


After reading the bile of a whole bunch of pissant swine on the internet, however, and their flagrant racist venom towards State Senator Leland Yee, I would rather that sharks go completely extinct than that such a bunch of snobby, snotty, blinkered, intolerant, stiff-arsed hatefilled self-righteous puss-barfing bigoted cretins succeed in getting sharkfin soup banned.

Follow two recipes, both delicious.

1. 蟹肉把翅 - 'Crab Meat Clutched Fin' (hai yiuk pa chi): Braised sharkfin with crab meat sauce in thick soup. A simple classic preparation.
2. 錦繡海上鮮 - 'Brocade Embroidery Upon Ocean Freshness' (gam sau hoi seung sien): Sharkfin in assorted seafood soup with fish meat, crab, shrimp, clams, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, etcetera.

[Enough for a party of four to six people.]

One cup soaked shark fin.
Half cup crab meat.
Quarter cup sherry.
Two scallion.
Two slices ginger.
Two TBS oil.
One TBS soy sauce.
Six cups superior stock.
Pinch of sugar.
Pinch of ground white pepper.

A little cornstarch water, rendered chicken fat.

Simmer shark fin in two cups stock with one scallion and one slice ginger for an hour. Drain, discard liquid, ginger, scallion.

Heat the oil at the bottom of a soup pot, sauté the remaining scallion and ginger a few seconds, enough to temper the oil, then remove. Add the crab meat, stir around briefly, sizzle with sherry.
Pour in the remaining four cups of stock, soy sauce, sugar, pepper. Bring to a boil, add the shark fin, turn low and simmer for about ten minutes.
Thicken with a little cornstarch water, add a little chicken fat for glossiness and flavour.

Note: this soup can be frozen with little loss of quality. But there probably won't be any left, even if there's only two of you at the table.

[Enough for a party of six to eight people.]

Half cup soaked sharkfin.
Half cup cooked crab.
Half cup peeled fresh shrimp.
Half cup chopped white-fleshed fish.
Quarter cup soaked sea cucumber, sliced.
Quarter cup bamboo shoot, sliced.
Quarter cup soaked black mushroom, sliced.
A dozen little clams, shelled (optional - I leave them out).
Three large conpoy.
One scallion, coarse cut.
A little sliced ginger.
Two to four TBS sherry.
Six cups superior stock.
Pinch of sugar.
One egg-white, beaten.

A little cornstarch water, rendered chicken fat.

Marinate the fish and shrimp in one tablespoon cornstarch whisked with one tablespoon sherry and an eggwhite for half an hour. Meanwhile steam the soaked sharkfin and conpoy until the conpoy can be pulled apart into shreds.

Heat oil, sauté scallion and ginger. Sizzle with sherry, add the stock, bring to a boil. Add the sharkfin, crab, sea -cucumber, bamboo shoots and black mushrooms, bring back to a boil, add the fish, shrimp and shredded conpoy, raise back to a boil. Stir-in a little cornstarch water to velvetize, along with the rendered chicken fat, and while stirring drizzle in the beaten egg white to form thin whisps.


To prepare sharkfin for the table, you must start several days ahead. Soak it in several changes of water for three days. Then simmer it on very low heat for two or three hours, with some ginger and scallion. Drain, discard the ginger and scallion, and rinse the fin. Now peel off the skin and remove the bone in the centre. Simmer again for two or three hours in a mixture of water and stock, with ginger and scallion. Drain, rinse, repeat.
At this point is should be ready for pre-cooking: immerse in stock with ricewine or sherry, plus ginger and scallion. Simmer for half an hour or so, then drain and rinse again.
At this point you can use it in the recipes.

There are stores where you can buy fabulously clean sharkfin which requires far less effort. Ask the shopkeeper for instructions and pointers, because he or she probably knows best how to deal with the product.

Recently I was at one such shop, which had several absolutely beautiful fins, lordy my mouth just watered at the sight. I ended up purchasing more stuff there than I had originally gone in to get. It's a lovely shop - warm and inviting, with friendly knowledgeable owners.

No, shan't mention the name or address of the business. Don't want a bunch of ever-so-superior middle-class know-it-alls outside raising a ruckus.

Notes: Black mushrooms (香菇 heung gu) need about half an hour of soaking before use. The soaking liquid can be added to the soup.
Conpoy (乾貝) is dried scallop, widely available in Chinatown. It is worth buying good quality conpoy, large ones with a bright hue and sharp edges. Conpoy is also called 乾瑤柱 (gon yiu chyu - 'dried jade supports') and 江瑤柱 (gong yiu chyu - 'river jade supports').
In addition to banquet preparations, it can be used in many simpler dishes for a texturally interesting seafood note. It is likewise very delicious in congee.
And it probably also irritates some people, just like everything else.

* * * * * * * *

BTW, there’s a previous post with a shark fin soup recipe here:
I also mention bird's nest and sea cucumber in
that post, but the recipe is the real reason to read it. It's one of my all-time favourite dishes, one which I do particularly well. And it's so easy!
Your feedback will be keenly appreciated.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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For some reason which I cannot explain I thought about the Shanghainese girl this morning. I knew her years ago, we drifted apart, and lost ...