Sunday, June 09, 2013


One of the tastes (or smells) that brings back long memory trains is Baai Tabak ("Bay tobacco"), that being what the Dutch call thin ribbon-cut leaf predominantly from Maryland, formerly shipped out via the Chesapeake.
Most of the currently available Netherlandish products in this category nowadays are sauced, often with extractives in the nasty aromatic vein.
Messing with the smell in such a fashion does nothing for the tobacco, and simply offends the rememberant.
It is remarkable that the damned Danes have not figured this out yet.

[All Dutch pipe tobaccos are presently manufactured in Scandinavia, where tobacco traditions are entirely different. Some fine products come out of the frigid boggy north, but many respected names now exist only in fantastically unlikeable interpretations. Good whores, those Danes.]

A real Baai Tabak consist overwhelmingly of plain barn-cured Maryland in a thin ribbon-cut, slightly steamed and fermented, then slow-dried to a proper humidity level for packaging. Flue-cured leaf as well as Burley may be added, provided in proper measure (minor proportions, in other words), and similarly treated.

[Stellar representations of the oeuvre: Echte Friesche Heeren Baai. Taconis et autres.]

The smell of such a product is pleasant, light, slightly nutty, and without the cloying sweetness of cigarettes or fruity flakes. There should be NO added sugar, nor any suggestion of vanilla, maple, chocolate, rum, or any other stinkum. It is supposed to be a clean healthy mixture.
Not a Viking perversion.

Voortrekker, Vier Heeren Baai, Rode Ster Rooktabak, Van Nelle's Echte Baai Tabak, Coopvaert, Echte Friesche Heeren Baai, and Troost Baai.

That last had some very odd leaves from the East Indies, but was still mostly barn-cured, and till the later years of production, unsauced.

The closest thing to Baai Tabak nowadays, given what those damned Danes have done, is probably the type of tobacco sold as Cavendish-cut for rolling into cigarettes. These are slightly broader in texture than regular shag, and for tax purposes categorized as pipe-tobacco. Yes, they roll a decent smoke, but they also perform very well in a briar. Most of these are, naturally, flue-cured leaves. But the "Amsterdam Cavendish" has a slight taste of something a Dutchman would recognize, the "Danish Cavendish" is mild and smokes very pleasantly, and the "Norwegian Cavendish" is quite enjoyable; smooth, sweet, and nutty. All need a little drying for the pipe, as they come finger-moist.
These are good simple products, of a more than decent quality.
Those damned Danes are doing something right.
Straightforward and honest.

Unfortunately, the avidly sought nose memory isn't there. They aren't, at the end of reckoning, from Maryland, where leaves grow that are exceptionally deficient in natural sweetness, like Burley, but also low in Nicotine, nearly at the impoverished level of Turkish.
A little age makes it a remarkable smoke.
Naturally fragrant.

The government of the state of Maryland expends much time and effort on discouraging the planting of tobacco, seeing as they're bucking for most politically correct green and fluffy socially responsible collection of pussy-pukes in the nation, and each year less and less acreage is devoted to the oldest cash crop they have. Once no more is grown there, there will be no reason to even visit them; they don't do anything else worth note.

Some Maryland-type tobacco is grown in Italy.

Baai Tabak today is not the same as it was.

The world is now a colder meaner place.


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