When I first started this blog it was meant primarily as a link-dump for the stuff I liked to read myself. I had begun corresponding with a rabbi in New York, and in researching his material, found several blogs that I ended up visiting regularly. Among the very first were the Gadol Hador, Mar Gavriel, and Dovbear. You will note that only one of them has a link; the other two went away when both writers suffered crises of communication. All three gentlemen are intensely literate.
Very soon afterwards I discovered Steg, ekvetcher, and Tzipporah, who were also exceptionally and enjoyably readable.
Steg has graduated to other things -- and he may have translated the Song of Songs (which is Solomon's) into Klingon by now -- ekvetcher occasionally posts interesting stuff (quite recently he had a two-parter about a gassy World War One battle: Osowiec I and Osowiec II), and Midianite Manna (Tzipporah) seems to be experiencing a dry-spell that has lasted nine months and counting.
Other blogs and links got added gradually, as I discovered them, or found fascinating tidbits.
My own posts in the early years were mostly about Judaic matters, leavened with Dutch subjects, food, tobacco, South-East Asia, and herring, plus ranting, vociferating, and mental calisthenics.
At the time I had no idea that anyone read my stuff, other than a few treasured correspondents and commenters.
Apparently they did. Still do.
A few years ago I discovered 'blog stats'. Which tell me how many visitors come here, what posts they read, and what they were looking for.
And, crucially, where they are from.
My readers consist of foodies, talmudists, sporstfiends, and pornofans. That last category always leaves disappointed, because while I will sometimes title my posts in a way that suggests much, I never deliver any of it. There has not been a single post here, out of three thousand plus, that satisfies a depraved soul or a filthy beast.
Not even the two essays about herring.
[I'm not sorry, and I'm not apologizing.]
The all-time most-visited posts at this point paint a fairly good portrait of the average reader.
He or she likes to eat, and wants to know how to cook certain things, or at least where they can be found. One or two of them are intensely curious people, and a minority smokes a pipe.
They live all over the world. Many are in Asia, though the largest number are in the United States and Europe. Some of them vote.
The accidental readers who discovered my more political essays are often angry and illiterate (and Dutch), but they don't visit me often.
I suspect that most visitors are between twenty and fifty years old, but there is no way of telling. I'm just guessing that several of them are rather like myself: male, youngish middle-aged, semi-solitary, and collectors of books as well as perhaps pottery or pipes.
And, forgive the terms, mildly perverse.
Full of life, if you prefer.
ALL TIME MOST POPULAR POSTS
1. HO SI FAT CHOI 好事發財 DRIED OYSTERS WITH BLACK MOSS
Feb 1, 2011.
Describes a very popular Cantonese new-year and special occasion preparation that combines dried oyster, which has an intense seafood saveur, with a type of hair-like plant of no nutritional use whatsoever. It's a very good dish, and there is no reason why you couldn't eat it throughout the year. Especially if you substitute fake hair-vegetable instead; the real stuff may have deleterious health effects.
I'm very fond of dried oysters, by the way.
2. SEA CUCUMBER - SOAKING AND BRAISING A DELICIOUS SLUG
Oct 1, 2011.
Another food item much loved by Chinese people. Which, because of its mildness and ability to absorb flavours, is well worth your time. Pairs nicely with meat, and provides a pleasing textural quality.
3. HONG KONG ROAST GOOSE IN SHAM TSENG
Oct 5, 2011.
Most readers of this particular post are tourists from Malaysia heading to Hong Kong, and doing the necessary research on famous local food. Roast goose is very much a Hong Kong thing, and three restaurants are listed here, including the most famous one of all, Yung Kee (鏞記酒家) in Central (中環). The other two are located out in Deep Well (深井) in the New Territories (新界).
If you want to make Cantonese Roast Goose at home, here's a recipe: 燒鵝.
4. DIM SUM: KINDS, NAMES, PRONUNCIATION, DESCRIPTION
Mar 28, 2012.
You can't find all of these items in the Bay Area. But they are available in Hong Kong. Most of them, however, especially the more common and beloved ones, are offered at several places in our city. There's a short list of good tea houses in this post: dim sum restaurants in San Francisco.
If you don't eat dim sum several times a month, your life is too grim. Something is missing.
5. CHINESE NEW YEAR - LUCKY WISHES, LUCKY FOODS
Jan 30, 2011.
Precisely what it says. Good stuff to eat, much of which is named propitiously. The article is more about terminology than food, however, and no actual recipes are provided.
You'll just have to wing it.
Ask an auntie.
6. HAM SAP LO - THE CANTONESE PERVERT
Apr 27, 2011.
Well, what does that term mean? If you're not Cantonese, you've heard it used way before you knew what it actually was.
It's a good thing to know.
7. THIS SHOP DOES NOT RECEIVE THE JAPANESE, THE PHILIPPINES, THE VIETNAMESE OR DOG
Mar 2, 2013.
Mr. Wang in Peking puts a sign in his restaurant window: 本店不接待日本人，菲律宾人，越南人，和狗。
Many Philippinos are aghast.
8. THE TOBACCO THAT HELLO KITTY WOULD SMOKE
Aug 12, 2012.
Some pipe tobaccos indicate that the smoker has questionable values, and should not be allowed anywhere near your relatives.
Not me, I'm totally safe.
9. OVERWHELMINGLY PUTRID
May 18, 2011.
Some pipe tobaccos are just vile.
10. DISAPPEARING RESTAURANTS ON STOCKTON STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO
Nov 7, 2011.
The neighborhood is changing. Some of your favourite places to eat are gone now, and there's a big hole in the ground where four of them used to be.
But they are still around.
I no longer write much about Talmud-Torah, seeing as others who are equally agnosto-skeptical but come from a more suitable background for that subject do so much better. And I haven't said a lot about the Dutch in recent times; now that the wars are winding down, and maybe they've finally started understanding that they really aren't much better than us, pointing out their flaws has lost its charm. Besides, translating their great poets is not easy, much gets lost.
Their prose, ditto.
Most of the posts listed above are about food.
Predictable, given where I live.
Perhaps it's a niche.
In any case, I write about things that interest me, and you will note that this blog is very San-Fran referentialist.
I would probably describe it as "Samuel Pepys visits SF Chinatown", except that Samuel Pepys was monumentally boring and I cannot possibly meet that high standard.
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
Interesting that the food posts are so high up, but not surprising, once one comes to think of it. Not my main area of interest, of course.
Wow, it's been so many years. The most influential post on my lifestyle was this: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/01/rat-crack.html
I used to regularly smoke ratpoison-crack, before I read your post, which noted that it was unhealthy. Upon reading your post, I called my doctor, who said that yes, smoking crack-cocained mixed with rat poison was quite unhealthy, and that I could have died. I stopped the habit then.
Thank you for possibly saving my life.
My favorite post was Pie for Finkelstein- it had everything. Recipes. Politics. Gratuitous violence. And a robust comments section.
Can you give me any way to contact Mar Gavriel? I really liked his posts. Yom tov travelogue.
Sorry, LAGoff, I have no way of contacted Mar Gavriel. We stopped communicating about a decade ago, although he does visit here under various assumed names.
There's just something about his comments that gives him away.
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