Saturday, February 28, 2015


About a year ago I vented at the pressure of well-meaning friends who obsessed over my lack of a love life. Some of whom stated that I set the bar far too high, there was no way in hell anyone could meet my impossible criteria.
Their opinion was absurd. I spent many years in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful women who is still one of my best friends. After two decades we were no longer the people we had been. Regrettably.

I shall not speak ill of her. Not because I claim to be a gentleman, or out of some sense of discretion, tact, or ethics, but, in truth, because there is no ill of which to speak.

That is not something I would say about many other people.

Which, in large part, explains why I don't date.

Or rather, haven't done so in a while.

It's not that I absolutely want the ideal woman and will settle for nothing less. It's just that I would like a perfect woman.
And I flatter myself that unlike most men I actually know what that is, and how to define her. No, shan't do so here. The parameters are sufficiently wide that most readers would be unable to grasp what was meant, and I know that being specific will always prompt friends to strongly suggest someone who epitomizes many of the characteristics up with which I do not wish to put.

"She's absolutely perfect for you! She doesn't really mind tobacco, loves tofu, and is ambulatory!
And she's a beast!

Friends are always tone-deaf when it comes to such things.

One of them believes that instead I should get a dachshund.

She probably would have suggested a duck-billed platypus, but she's a dog-person, not an Australian.

Duck-billed platypuses are VERY cute.



The platypus.

Well then.

Four weeks ago a good friend enthusiastically urged me to go shmooze with a Taiwanese woman who was accompanied by a wussy male, and stated that reserve in such situations inevitably meant defeat.
I don't know to what situation he referred, seeing as the two people in view seemed perfectly matched.
And in any case, there was no evidence that she was in any way suited to me, while all the available evidence indicated that she rather liked her wussy man.

Three weeks ago someone suggested that I should go talk to a drunken blonde. Perhaps because drunken blondes are far less of a challenge than rational women who are sober.

Again I demurred.

A few days ago someone else spent two hours in conversation with three French trollops. Somehow I doubt that they spoke of Jean-Paul Sartre or Jean-Luc Goddard. Or anything worth thinking about.
They probably didn't even talk about food!

I find the examples set by other people fascinating, and wonder how they ever find romance.

It seems to me that many of them simply settle for less.


Mencius said: "I like fish, I also like bear paw. If I cannot possibly have both, I will pass on the fish and have the bear paw".

The corollary to that is that even if bear paw is hard to find, one should not simply settle for fish.

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Friday, February 27, 2015


It may surprise some readers that out here in San Francisco (California) we are NOT suffering from any particular frigid discomforts. Nay, it is warm. Aestival, and balmy. There have even been times in the past few days that I have merrily skipped and swanned around the apartment entirely unclothed, with windows wide open.
Ooh, comfortable!
I feel free!

Please note: I had opened all the windows because I was smoking a pipe -- my apartment mate does NOT like the odour of Turkish and Latakia tobaccos perfuming the living quarters when she returns in the evening, remarkably -- and the nudity was both because I had recently exited the chamber of ablution all moist and glistening, and because I could; it's a celebration of all things non-Eastcoastal to be warm and naked and free, here on the sunny and temperate Westcoast.

The hallway mirror tells me I'm strapping.
I share that datum incidentally.
It's a lagniappe.

Nevertheless, I feel for my compatriots suffering the frigid agony and indigestion that a little snow brings. Out there back east.
Where the stress is mounting.

Chilblains! Y'all got chilblains, what?



My piles bleed for you.
It's gotta be, like, totally (!) bad.

All that hot chocolate! The first day or two were probably nice, but by now you are sick and tired of it. And your woolen longjohns are starting to chafe. I know how you feel.

"Six unattended corpses and a man tearfully eating a dog..."

Today I am NOT nude. In a couple of hours I shall head out to work, in Marin, where I shall bask in the sunlight and frolic. You know, I've never been happier for that, but observing the Snowpocalypse that is the fate of folks in other places, I rejoice.

I would be nude. But there might be frowns if that were the case. Even in tropical Marin County, they look askance at an absence of grass skirts. A middle-aged man disporting himself with a pipe and nary a scrap might have parasol beverages thrown at him. Lime juice and coconut water sting, you know.

I'm never nude for longer than a few minutes on weekends either, as my schedule would not permit, even if my apartment mate weren't home on those days. It's very sad.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015


This blogger inhabits what is quite likely the most berserk and out-of-touch-with-reality part of the known universe. And I'm not entirely comfortable with that. I feel far too normal to be here.

EXAMPLE ONE: Several people I know are cleansing themselves. No, not scrubbing themselves all over with a washcloth and water, but "cleansing"
I would suggest that these self-indulgent fudge-wits pay for high-colonics, but then they might assume that I am one of them, and tell me more about their ridiculous and medically unsound dietary weirdness. One of them already shared the benefits of almond milk upon the bowels, which was something that I really did not want to hear.

He was smoking a cigar at the time.

He's a nice man, but he's nuts.

Of course he lives in Marin.

There used to be an artspace on Pacific Avenue which advertised rectal hydration by appointment only, but they've closed down, and I suspect that they moved to Marin. Where business is probably booming.

EXAMPLE TWO: An acquaintance got another tattoo. She already has several. Each one celebrates a life-achievement. Her high school graduation. A girl scout badge (right behind the knee). Her first orgasm, with date. Learning how to make soy-milk. And, finally, karmically changing her astrological alignment.

That last one is mighty odd. No, I have no clue how it is done.
And I don't think it's either possible, or ever necessary.

EXAMPLE THREE: An otherwise semi-rational Jewish person of my acquaintance recently cited Pamela Geller in support of Bibi Netanyahu, and against Obama. She's a liberal, and I thought she was capable of researching her sources, verifying data, taking biases into account, and not giving credence to the crackpot fringe.

Pamela Geller, it will be remembered, beslimes herself on the internet by writing Atlas Shrugs, and is widely acknowledged to be neck-and-neck with Debbie Shlussel for most rabid hate-filled insane pustule on the ultra-right. Please note that shrill harpy Caroline Glick, columnist for notorious spam-site 'The Jerusalem Post', and soggy-pantied propagandist for Netanyahu, praises Pamela Geller.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed writing those last two sentences.

Pamela Geller. Debbie Schlussel. Caroline Glick.
And, how could we forget, Orly Taitz.

None of these people are vampires.
But they very well could be.
Gun nuts, too.

There's a reason why you're scared of clowns,

In conclusion, I should mention that I do indeed know some rational non-egomaniacs in the Bay Area. Unblinkered people who do not have an overweening sense of exceptionalism or entitlement, and tend toward sane and balanced points of view.

Being so is a bit of a rarity.

It is considered 'dysfunctional'.

There are far too many twizzle brains.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015


One friend disparages Hong Kong style snackies as naught more than low-grade ingredients dolled-up. Naturally I would disagree, especially as he is also convinced that the spices in Indian food hide spoiled meat, and even one tiny clove of garlic alone can ruin your sex drive.
I haven't asked how he knows that about garlic.
Nor am I interested in his sex drive.

Actually, the sexual urges and activities of my friends seldom interest me, and it is preferred that they do not make a public habit of those things. Kissing, cuddling, and further activities should be done in private, not spoken of, and never detailed to friends or family.
Be discreet, people.
Thank you.

Your gustatory indulgences, however, can be fascinating. Especially if you like what I like. Which is Cantonese food, dim sum, Hong Kong style snackies, Indonesian food, and weird Dutch deep-fried objects.
Oh plus lots of other stuff, I just mentioned the highlights.
I am a sucker for fattening stuff.

A different friend mentioned the runny custard buns at Sun Hing in Kennedy town, which, naturally, made my ears drool.

Seeing as I am in San Francisco, nowhere near Kennedy Town.

[I've mentioned Kennedy Town in a previous post: Eat well and smell good.]

We have great eaties. But we aren't Hong Kong.
Often that is rather a pity.


Sun Hing Restaurant
Western District (Sai Wan), Kennedy Town, Smithfield Street No. 8, Ground Floor, Shop C.

It's two blocks south of the waterline, in case you are interested.
Not too far from the China Merchants Wharf.
Near Gatchik Street.

They also do a number of other dim sum type items, all very nicely, and are a beloved establishment among the locals.
They open at three A.M.
All day food.


I never tried the runny custard bun.
Didn't even know it existed.
A grievous oversight.

It is a thin-skinned steamed object filled with oozing goodness.

I know of no place in San Francisco that does anything like it.

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Jonathan in Israel persuaded me to think of pie. He is an evil man. And I am forced to acknowledge, finally, that I cannot design a pie-chart if my life depends on it.

There's always a large wedge missing.
I like pie.


If at all possible, I like to sit in one of the front seats when I head over to Marin. At Broadway yesterday morning a woman got on whom I have seen before. She always greets the bus driver with a lovely smile -- one which is warm, genuine, and without pretense; a sincere heartfelt sunniness -- which I have for a long time wished was directed at me instead.

No, I am not obsessing. She is beautiful when she smiles.

Because the Golden Gate transit schedule has shifted slightly since December, I haven't seen her often this year. Yesterday's outfit was casual though well-executed. The effect was very nice indeed.
I remain appreciative of the warm weather.
It wasn't revealing or immodest.
Yet utterly yowza.

I am at an age where I do not leer provocatively or exclaim "let us go dancing at a loud and impossibly hip south of Market club while guzzling mojitos" whenever a charming woman crosses my path.
Probably as close to maturity as I will get.

What a pity she goes nearly all the way to the back of the bus and just sits there quietly be herself, earplugs in, not making eye-contact with anyone. She looks fragile and abstracted as the passing scenery reflects off her spectacles.

I'm always at the front, usually with my eyes closed. Meditation sustains the mind, and makes the time between Van Ness and Mill Valley fly.

Often she is the last person left when I disembark.

I am a dirty old man who very much likes pie.

She is a young lady with shapely legs.

I am not easily distracted.

Except sometimes.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Imagine my surprise yesterday when I found an item of new and staggering useful-tude. Food-related, too! If you like chicken, you will love this. Especially if you have heard of Tai Ping Koon.

Tai Ping Koon Chanteng presently consists of four branches; Central District, Causeway Bay, Tsimshatsui, and Yaumatei. The food they serve is broadly categorized as "soy sauce western".

[Tai Ping Koon (太平館): Pacific chancellery, Pacific establishment. Chanteng (餐廳): dining hall, restaurant. Central District (中環 'jung waan'): on Hong Kong Island, near the government buildings. Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣 'tung lo waan'): major shopping district on Hong Kong Island, north of Central. Tsimshatsui (尖沙咀): 'sharp sand beak', the tip of the Kowloon peninsula. Yaumatei (油麻地): 'oil hemp earth', Waterloo in Kowloon. Soy Sauce western (豉油西餐 'si-yau sai chan'): a unique style of cooking that is both fish and fowl, and good red herring.]

There used to be a related filial on Jackson Street in San Francisco, where Bund Shanghai Restaurant is now.


Nope, nothing to do with the Alps, or any part of Europe. Swiss wings are chicken parts simmered in all-purpose sauce. Which, in Hong Kong, is often called 'Swiss Sauce' (瑞士汁 'seui-si jap').


Swiss Sauce contains soy, sugar, ginger, and a modicum of spices. It is often used for chicken wings, yes, but it can also be added to pork, fried tofu, mushrooms, variety meats, or even utilized for tea eggs.
I have NO idea why it is called 'Swiss Sauce'.

Of course I bought a bottle. I am always keen for queer things.

I shall probably use some this evening.

Swiss juices.

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Monday, February 23, 2015


You would think that creatures with the same number of limbs might somehow feel for each other, especially when they are anomalies.
The internet, after all, is FILLED with charming videos of dogs, cats, goats, marmots, and various other animals developing unlikely friendships and altogether getting along swimmingly.

It's so effing cute you just want to squeal.

Then you paste them on facebook.

And all your friends "like".

Nothing makes people go smarmy and moist like cute animal videos.

I myself am not over-the-top enthused about the loveability of our fellow carbon-based lifeforms, and positively hate moist smarm, believing that that is a Republican and Christian value not worth sharing.

Never-the-less, here's one that makes me go all soft inside.




It's from the dark continent of Australia, where men are men, sheep are passive-aggressive, and octopodi rule.

That octopus has my approval. Decisive action, a risk well-weighed, and perfectly sensible and understandable needs and feelings.

An emotionally stable individual, who just loves crab.

If he had a fry-pan, he'd need garlic and ginger.

Plus scallions, and a little rice-wine.

One or two chilies.

"Oktopuregalu aaph oktopas, Ecclisientes helidaru, ellaa oktopude aagide!"

I need one as a pet. They are personable, forthright, and charming.
And far more intelligent than dinner.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015


Normally I completely ignore the Oscars. This time, however, I have a pony in the race. My cousin's brilliant son, as of this writing, has scored big time. So yes, I am paying attention.
Probably won't go see his movie in a theatre, though.
For one thing, absolutely no one to go with.
Actually, that is key.

You see, other than Cantonese movies, which I always enjoyed by myself as a secret perversion, movies aren't really my thing. I like having a warm hand to hold, and someone to talk about the movie with afterward.
While we feast upon a scrumptious dinner.
I don't really like movie theatres in SF. They smell bad, the seats are of very suspect cleanliness, snacks and drinks are pretty darn awful and cost too much, and the ambient noise makes understanding what the characters said problematic. Plus the forward rows ALWAYS have big hair.

The last movie I thoroughly enjoyed by myself was King of Masks. Yep, a tearjerker. Especially when the adorable tyke wails "wo shir ge nü-dze!"



Saw that movie over two dozen times. My ex hated it. Even today she still teases me by mimicking the sounds and expressions in that movie.

Fortunately she's never seen most of the Cantonese movies I love, such as pretty much every ultra-violent gangster flick with Chou Yunfat, or any of the films featuring the lovely Cherie Chung. Well, possibly excepting Peking Opera Blues. I think she enjoyed it, I'm not sure. Too much historical detail, even though the script played fast and loose with the facts quite as much as Cherie Chung's character with other people's jewelry.
It's a great cinematic romp if you are Chinese or know recent mainland history. But probably more than a bit baffling if you are American-born Chinese, and not at all fully at home in the language or the culture.

Chou Yunfat was one hell of a handsome devil in the gangster movies, and one seriously wondered why women all over the world weren't stalking him. Plus he had style.

Confession: I also thoroughly enjoyed Anna And The King.
Chou Yunfat opposite Jodie Foster.

Jodie Foster, you will recall, was blazing and brilliant in the Hotel New Hampshire, which was exceedingly kinky, in a witty sort of way.
Bears featured as sexy beasts.

See, that's what all well-rounded movies need. Hot gangsters, brilliant (or brilliantly demented) Cantonese women, sex-fetish-ursines, and a great setting. If you've got all of those, the plot is immaterial. Just tell everyone to be themselves, and wait for the sparks to fly.
That will come naturally.

This, of course, explains why my brilliant first cousin ("cousin-nephew"?) is at the Oscars tonight, whereas I am sitting in front of my computer gibbering pretentiously about film.

Congratulations, dude.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015


After a long day in Marin County babysitting cigar-aficionados, it is exceedingly good to be back in San Francisco. Civilization, there's nothing like it. Getting my sanity back right now with a steaming cup of coffee and tea mixed together, with sweetened condensed milk. It's a very Hong Kong affectation, but the double whammy of caffeine suits me. Had enough nicotine during the day to stave off boredom, although when Alice came by to pick up a pipe-lighter (Xikar Resource, life-time warranty), that was as good as a double cappuccino and an Oliva Series V Maduro combined. And a breathe of fresh air.

There are a few more women cigar smokers than pipe smokers. It was a woman who introduced me to Oliva cigars. Thank you, Robin.
Perhaps one day you'll meet Alice.
She's very nice.

Upon returning home, the first thing I do is greet my apartment mate, who is in her room surrounded by furry critters, reading comic books and lamenting that she misses her boy friend with whom she broke up nearly two months ago. For the umpteenth time.

Then I open my e-mail. Which convinces me that Marin ain't half bad. Some people there are not too disconnected from reality.

E-mail ... ... ...


One of my former Facebook friends, whom I thought I was clear of last summer when I removed him because his posts during the fracas between Israel and Hamas suggested either that the U.S. Administration was actively aiding and abetting the overlords of the strip, OR that the only thing that needed doing to solve the Middle-East's problems once and for-all would be nuking Gaza, the West Bank, Cairo, and Tehran, recently sent me a screed that convinces me that he's voting Republican, more than anything else he's ever written.

[There have been numerous opportunities to weed out the nut sacks on Facebook over the past few years; at this point only two or three of them remain. They are mostly quiescent.]

He states that the reason why it is freezing where he is, and warm sunny weather where I am, is because the libtards running the country have been employing pagan rituals to control the weather.

It's beastly cold all over the Republican part of the United States.
Nice weather in commie pinko-ville: San Francisco et environs.

Quod Erat frikkin' Demonstrandum!

Further proof: Obama and his henches were in the Bay Area last week. You need warm weather for photo opportunities. And Obama, being a foreigner, prefers tropical heat. It's called Geo-Engineering, and I should look it up. Plus the freezing zone is overwhelmingly pro-Netanyahu!
Obama is gonna get you, sucka!

Netanyahu is g-d.

I've learned to be very circumspect with my e-mail address.

And, because it's San Francisco, I have a cattle prod and a bright red Speedo. Really. It's standard public transit garb here. The benefits of basking in that warm Obamite glow. Ain't lying.

Any way, our president is messing with divine prerogative. You know, I may have suggested, previously to this "friend", that he should mainline Valium. That was when he quoted Michelle Bachman's assertion that the White House was controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. A claim which has been abundantly debunked on Snopes, but that site is run by the Illuminati and the Kremlin, so anything they say is a lie.

The barium and aluminum oxide pumped into the atmosphere by a secret base in Alaska is making it snow. Sarah Palin isn't crazy, her mental synapses are all messed up by the CIA's weather conspiracy.
And again, pagan rituals all over the place.
It's the Muslims, man; jihad!
Stop messing with god!

Electro-shock might work. Worst case scenario: lobotomy.

Lo·bot·o·my (lə-bŏt′ə-mē)

He's as batshit crazy as the rightwinger who told me years ago that it was only a matter of two or three months at best before Iran nuked Israel and Obama would send in the United Nations Police (Dutch, and Hong Kong Chinese) to take away our guns and put all true American patriots in concentration camps.
I told him at the time that being a Dutchman, my ability to speak Chinese was NO coincidence. He was tops on my to-do list. Then I gibbered on for a while about the Glock 19, and how it truly is one of the most versatile tools in any man's personal arsenal, why, even the marines preferred it!
He was a former Marine, didn't he know?!?

Beware of chemtrails.

Still, the frigid weather is particularly bad in Tea-Party-Stan. Where people overwhelmingly believe in crazy-ass conspiracy theories, flunk high school, always vote Republican, and distrust climate change.

Except for New York and Chicago. But those are just flukes.

If it really is too cold for you, just put on a warm snuggy burka.
Stylish, sharia-compliant, AND practical!

There's also that "low frequency humming".

Very worrying.



If anyone reading this ALSO believes in "weather witches", I sincerely invite them to post their comments (or deep feelings) in the appropriate receptacle below (OR, use the letterbox). Feel free to wax verbose, and if you leave your real name and address, so much the better. Let's get this conversation going! Say whatever you want about Obama, Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton, AND the Trilateral Commission.

What part of the country are you in?

How's the weather there?

Trailer parks?

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Friday, February 20, 2015


The traditional first meal for Chinese New Year, which is now, should be vegetarian. Now, this is a Buddhist custom, and some people may not be familiar with it, or might even discard the reasoning behind it entirely. Such as my apartment mate and several other people I know, who all concluded that a nice chop, or roast, or spot of mutton korma, would be a splendid way to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Sheep.

Lamb chops are indeed delicious.

Not all animals of the Chinese zodiac are, strictly speaking, edible.

But feasting in good company is approved of, so twelve of us headed over to Chubby Noodle in the Marina district to devour roast suckling pig. Two of which bit the dust.

The Buddhists don't know what they're missing.

Being, as you know, a man with a perverse sense of humour, I decided that truly appropriate garb for the occasion was a football sweatshirt for an ultra-orthodox Jewish seminary.
It's a handsome garment, but I may have been the only one around the table for whom 'Medrash Govoha' has any meaning. Delight in irony is no less delicious for being singular.

Man, that was some magnificent roast pig.

There's got to be a brocha for that.

San nin faai lok, fu gwai cheung chun, seui seui ping on, gat hing do fu, maan si yü yi.


While heading over to dinner, I passed two elderly Chinese gentlemen leaving Harris' Restaurant, famous for the best steaks in San Francisco. The lovely top-notch beef they serve there is the ONLY reason to go.
Both gentlemen looked quite happy, and were softly talking about their meal as they wandered out.
I approve of that; elderly gentlemen should have a nice juicy beefsteak once in a while. It puts a spring in their step.

Happy Year of the Sheep.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015


Since breaking up with her boyfriend, the person who lives on the other side of the apartment has discovered CHOCOLATE. It is wondrous. And, lest she blimp up -- a prospect that frightens her, though she could use a bit of, errm, stuffing, what with being rather scrawny -- I have been sacrificing myself by co-partaking. Double chocolate icecream. Nutella.
The other Sees Chocolate.

The other Sees is further down Market, near Castro Street.

I have to wonder what she was doing there.

Probably not man-watching.


I also like chocolate, and am anything if not an opportunist. My raids upon the chocolate supply are usually late at night, when a spot of something dark and bitter can be very enjoyable. A secret passion. When other people are watching I rarely eat chocolate. Although during the holidays I did demolish a man's share of the substance.

Me and a box of chocolate alone in a room.

Guess which of us two will survive.

It screams as I eat it.

All of it.

The problem with chocolate, if consumed in realistic portions, is that it makes you torpid, and yields a bloated feeling.

From Wikipedia:
"Cocoa solids are one of the richest sources of flavanol antioxidants. They also contain alkaloids such as theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine. These have physiological effects on the body and are linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Some research has found that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure."

Flavanol antioxidants sound like a mighty good thing.
So does lowering blood pressure.

Belgians, as you know, are very healthy people who live forever.
None of them have boyfriends.

[From Wikipedia.]

In modern medicine, theobromine is used as a vasodilator (a blood vessel widener), a diuretic (urination aid), and heart stimulant.

Theobromine increases urine production. Because of this diuretic effect, and its ability to dilate blood vessels, theobromine has been used to treat high blood pressure. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that historic use of theobromine as a treatment for other circulatory problems including arteriosclerosis, certain vascular diseases, angina pectoris, and hypertension should be considered in future studies.

Following its discovery in the late 19th century, theobromine was put to use by 1916, when it was recommended by the publication Principles of Medical Treatment as a treatment for edema (excessive liquid in parts of the body), syphilitic angina attacks, and degenerative angina.

In the human body, theobromine levels are halved between 6–10 hours after consumption.

- - - - - - -

Possible future uses of theobromine in such fields as cancer prevention have been patented.

Theobromine also shows promise in tooth decay prevention and has been shown in some studies to surpass the more traditional fluoride. Advantages include the ability to safely ingest it, obviating the "do not swallow" warnings on fluoride mouthwash.
End quote.

The Wikipedia articles about theobromine, antioxidants, and serotonin are exceptionally well-worth rereading, as they are more data-dense ("difficult to fully understand") than the chocolate entry.
Chocolate itself is very easy to understand.
Eat it, and you will feel happy.
Be more Belgian.

In other chocolate-related news, Nestlé USA is planning to remove artificial ingredients from candy it sells in the U.S. by the end of the year.
Jolly good. Crap like that does not belong in chocolate.
But feel free to up the cocoa content.
It's a health food.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015


We males are often not as sincere about things as women. Being, as we are, larger, hairier, and less sensitive. This is especially true when it comes to food. Usually we eat on the run, and barely taste what we eat; why, it's a miracle if we even remember what lunch was! Either it was pizza, or it wasn't. We're not sure. It was probably pizza. Whatever, it was either a prelude to a business meeting or insane screaming and cheering about sports, or a postlude to all that.

It might not have been pizza, because my breath doesn't stink.
And no beer or screaming was involved.
Should've had pizza.

I was sitting down unwrapping a truly delightful and fragrant packet of sticky rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf, while simultaneously looking forward to the pork siumai, when a youngish Cantonese woman came tripping in and happily asked the counter lady "ah yi, ah, nei yau paaikwat faan, ah?"
She sounded so very chipper when she said it, that I could feel her despair and profound bewilderment at the heartlessness of a cold universe when the person she had addressed responded "mou ah, kamyat mou paaikwat faan; wantan min?"

It was as if the sun disappeared and a drenching downpour started.
What kind of world is this when there is NO paaikwat faan?
Cruel, heartless, wrenching. A calamity.
She shrivelled up.

[NOTES. Lo mai kai (糯米雞): glutinous rice, chicken, and one or two slices of Chinese sausage, wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed till delicious. Siu mai (燒賣): minced meat in an open-topped pasta cup, also steamed. It is juicy and slightly fatty, and utterly wonderful. Ah yi, ah, nei yau paaikwat faan, ah? 阿姨,阿, 你有排骨飯, 阿?: Oh auntie, do you have spare ribs over rice? Mou ah, kamyat mou paaikwat faan; wantan min? 冇阿, 今日冇排骨飯; 吞湯麵?: Nope (sorry), today no spare ribs and rice; won ton noodles (instead)?
Pong to daai yu 滂沱大雨: a torrential downpour.]

There is nothing quite so beautiful as a Cantonese woman expecting something nice to eat. Nor anything so heartwrenching as that same woman when her hopes have been cruelly dashed. It does not matter what age she is, from infant to crone and anything in between.

Waaaaah, no food? No food!

It's not that Cantonese women love food above all else, but tasty things to eat are such a wonderful prospect. A delicious snack truly is an innocent pleasure, to be celebrated with good cheer and profound happiness.

Mine, all mine! It is filled with goodness!

If you want to look death in the face, tell her she can't have any.
No, she won't go all savage inner demon on you. But when no one is watching, she'll push you off a cliff onto the jagged rocks far below.
Then lament your untimely demise by eating something.

I would have bought her some paaikwat faan, but for TWO reasons:
Number one: It would have been considered forward, and possibly intrusive, to have made the offer. Plus she might have been married.
Number two: There was no paaikwat faan.


After I went and got my haircut, I wandered down through the alleyways till at last I passed the park. A young couple and their tiny daughter were coming up the street as I relit my pipe. I noticed that she was clutching a small stuffed animal. Which I recognized as a seal. Unusual; stuffed seals are not the most common of stuffed companions. I would have asked her "what is that?", but she probably would glared at me fiercely and told me in no uncertain terms that it was hers, and I should bug the hell off old man.
The key to harmony and long life is to never express untoward interests in a little girl's stuffed companion. That, and not interfering with a Cantonese woman's food.
Bad things will happen if you do.

Sometimes I feel like 'The Dude' in 'The Big Lebowski'.
Just exclaim "ah, nice marmot", and leave it at that.

At other times I am merely bemused.

BTW: My favourite eateries are staffed by women.
I have not asked if they have stuffed animals.
It wouldn't surprise me if they do.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Yesterday evening Don and I discussed the rental situation in the city, and we realized that there really is no place here for working class people anymore. Since the big internet companies like Guggle, Twatter, and fazebuk (misspellings deliberate, as I don't want to get sued by the bastards) discovered that their programmers and marketing sleazebags love the place, rents have gone sky-high, public transit has gone down, city services have become more unavailable due to inefficiency coupled with increased demand, pot holes have increased, and the entitled asshole quotient evinced by new arrivals has gone through the roof.

Plainly put, thanks to high-tech, this city has become unbearable, unlivable, unaffordable.

On the other hand, real-estate speculators are making a killing, and the corrupt political establishment is just fine with that.

Party politics in San Francisco has always been on the side of slum landlords.

The present city government is no exception.

Frankly, I do not care if Valencia Street is a hell-hole filled with rabid yuppies. And the inbred Keltic element out in the avenues can go hang. As well as the illiterates in the projects, and the syphilitics infesting the club scene. But there are so many of them now that despite the obscene profits that well-connected players enjoy, the city is fast becoming unbearable.

In slightly over two weeks, half a million people will flock in to enjoy the Chinese New Year Parade.

Which will be great, except that it doesn't feel like a festive occasion at present.

There are commercial vacancies on every block in C'town.

And massive residential overcrowding.

Plus increased poverty.

Two days before New Year, and the local Chinatown population has scant cause for celebration. Drug-addicted non-Chinese lurk in the alleyways, jobs are scarce, families live cramped together in ever-more un-affordable studio apartments. Businesses are dying because of over-regulation, the increased burden of city services, enormously expanded poverty, and a complete lack of favourable attention by city hall and the Democratic Party commissars.

Folks, I understand that the ONLY reason for Chinatown in your eyes is to draw in tourists to gawk at the colourful primitives. The more the merrier. Who cares that the midwestern scumbuckets don't drop any money in Chinatown, when the very fact that they are paying to stay in over-priced hotel rooms and eat chain pizza and burgers makes it all worthwhile?
Poverty, malnutrition, hopelessness?
Oooh, colourful!

How about employing some Cantonese speakers (or other natives) in your hotels, fancy restaurants, bars, and designer clothing stores?
We can't afford to spend money here, but that's okay.
Our expectations headed south years ago.
But we'll work to escape.
Or just survive.

How come every time I go to Macys, I hear Tagalog from the snippy shop girls? And who let in all these dumbass trustfund bimbos? The Filipinos should stay in Daly City, the in-migration of consumerite blonde sluts and jock-slime from FlyoverStan should be discouraged. That bunch of shitty criminals and vulgarinas from the East Bay should go back.
There's room in Hayward and Fremont for them.
Or in Oakland, across the Bay.
Screw Oakland.

There's something seriously effed up about this city if all you care about is the real-estate boom and squeezing the tourists, and won't actually allow local people to escape poverty.
More than that, it's racist and discriminatory.

And for craps-sakes, STOP encouraging the Euries!
I keep hearing French and German here.
From well-dressed people.
Obvious imports.

By the way, the sewers don't work, potholes on several streets (for instance, Van Ness between Union and Lombard) are big enough to drown in, PG&E is a piss-poor excuse for a utility company, public transit is horrendous, and emergency services suck.

Enjoy that parade two weeks hence.
We won't be there.

We live in this shithole.

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Monday, February 16, 2015


It's a holiday which some people cannot enjoy. As part of the whole Washington's birthday - Lincoln's birthday compression, which per the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971 switched both commemorations to the third Monday in February, schools and banks are closed, low-level law-office workers and many Federal and state bureaucrats as well as city employees and transit agency drudges get the day off.

Capitalism's regular footsoldiers, however, are hard at work. So are some of the establishments where they will get sustenance throughout the day.

I am off per regular schedule. I do not 'prosyletize' for pipes and cigars on this day, and shall not head to Marin. If anyone wants to come over to the side of sweetness and light today, they're doing it on their own.
I am not the midwife.
Not today.

My apartment mate is also off, because she works in a city agency.


My apartment mate is a charming intelligent person. With Asperger's, and somewhat anti-social. As well as a resolute non-smoking fiend, who objects vociferously to the pungent stench of burning tobacco leaves. Which means that today I cannot wait till she has left the building, won't sneck her door firmly and open all the windows, fill a briar with fragrant leaf, then light up and pretend I'm Hemmingway or Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Or Einstein, Camus, Bertrand Russell, Edwin Hubble, or any of the other pipe-smokers of brilliance.
Or even Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, or Josef Stalin.
There will be no indoor smoking today.
Curses, foiled again.

Instead, the television is on (Real Housewives of Atlanta), she's just given me a concise explanation of the French Arch in architecture while plonking at her computer, and I'm planning to escape.

Heading over to Chinatown early seems like a good idea. Something yummy to eat, a caffeinated beverage, then hiding out in the alleyways. Stockton Street is too crowded so close to Chinese New Year, and Grant Avenue has flocks of monstrous pudgy Americans from the interior of the country, gawking.

Hang Ah, Spofford, Ross, Becker, Wentworth, Faa Yuen Gok, Commercial.

Joyce, Stone, Trenton, Cordelia.

Volleyball courts, mahjong parlours, Christian classrooms, more mahjong parlours, a place where you may order a chipao or cheongsam, and a slow descent into the backend of the Financial District.

Noisy kids, utter quiet, tree-shade behind Ping Yuen, and a view of the crowds at Stockton and Pacific.

Probably going to spend a fair amount of time In Hang Ah Alley, near the mahjong parlours facing the tennis court. Or at the Sacramento Street end of Waverly by the First Baptist Church. It is relatively empty at both of those locations, as the pudge-monsters from elsewhere do not walk that far uphill.
No one should object to a middle-aged man with faux-intellectualism but a very real fondness for good pipe tobacco, in quiet reverie.

Perhaps a cup of milk-tea after four o'clock, and a snackipoo at a bakery. Then more of the same till long past twilight.

I'll have a notepad. There's always something to jot down.
Or look up when I return home.

Happy Dead Presidents Day.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015


Tormenting animals for fun and profit. But mostly fun. Such wickedness.
Personally, I sympathize with the icky little furballs, as I too am conflicted about bananas.



It is a well-known fact that bananas are the Devil's fruit. For one thing, in their raw state they make me itch for several hours.

On the other hand, sliced bananas sprinkled with brown sugar, wrapped in mille-feuille pastry, and then baked, can be quite delightful. And bananas foster made with 151 Demerara Rum and a few dark chocolate curls may very well have been the food of the gods on Olympus.

Always have a bottle of rum on hand.
In case of banana attack.

Recipe for Bananas Foster from Brennan's in New Orleans:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet.
Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.
When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.
Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.


NOTES: Instead of banana liqueur, use only rum. Omit the cinnamon, it's useless. Add a pinch of nutmeg for fragrance instead. Breyer's Natural Vanilla Icecream is the best. When you remove the banana pieces from the pan to serving plates, add a drop or two of genuine vanilla essence and a few thick curls of Scharffen Berger bitter chocolate (use a fruit peeler for this) before adding the icecream.

You'll need a shot of espresso afterwards, to counteract the sugar coma. Unsweetened. It's worth it.

I would also suggest passing around cigars. La Flor Dominicana Ligero Mysterio Oscuro is an excellent choice, and quite one of the most elegant perfectos ever made. Many retailers are running out of stock of the product under that name, but it is now produced as La Flor Dominicana TCFKA M ("the cigar formerly known as .... ") due to some pissy legal action by another tobacco empresario. Available in a box of five.
It is an absolutely perfect smoke.
Pairs well with chocolate.
Spicy notes.

[SOURCE: Neptune Cigars Inc..]

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One of the things that baffles many women about men is the almost infantile obsession with breasts. Ask any man to describe the ideal woman, and fully one page or more will go into great detail about mammaries or brassieres, usually both. There will be NO spelling errors, as he was most completely alive while concentrating on the subject. He gave it all of his attention, and his intellect was running at peak.
Unless he's gay, in which case he might not know what he's missing.

Women are not so concerned about breasts.
They're just rather pleased they have them, because it gives their men something to talk about other than sports on the telly.

[Not being into sports in any way at all, you might think that I would discuss breasts without ceasing, but that would be quite incorrect. Often my deepest thoughts are about food -- something which is within reach, and achievable -- rather than the frontal parts of the female of the species. Obsessing about breasts might get me arrested, so I usually just ignore them entirely. I could start collecting brassieres, but that would be perverse.]

Men are, at heart, rather simple souls.

Which is why this clip is so funny.



Somehow, it spoke to me.

If I had a dog and had to go to America for a year, I should also like someone to take care of the beast. Because, of course, one cannot ship one's dog to the States. Dogs aren't very smart, so by the time it got used to American accents and its bark was intelligible over there, it would be time to go back.
Really, it would be frightfully confusing.
No dog deserves that.

Please note that neither breasts nor men were harmed in the production of the video above. Breasts are more easily damaged than men, but men have egos which sometimes bruise.
Seeing as men and breasts often go together (ideally), this can be a problem.
Men aren't concerned about other men's egos.
But they'll worry about breasts.
All breasts.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015


What do you do on a long weekend when Valentine's Day and Dead Presidents Day coincide? Why, you jump in the car with your honey and head out of town. Tahoe, perhaps. Just you, him or her (whichever gender is appropriate) and a pot of mayonnaise.
Seeing as I am a single man, who does not use mayonnaise topically, that isn't part of my programme. Instead I am soon heading over to the cigar bar for a nice quiet smoke among the screaming cigar-huffing dipsomaniacs.

I'll be the one in the corner with a pipe.
The calm rational person.

Last Thursday I came home from the monthly meeting of the pipe club in a very good mood. After the meeting, during drinks at the Occidental, we had discussed ebola, the plague, pollution, cancer clusters, genetic defects, and repetitive toilet flushing, among other subjects.
Plus guns, ammo, and nearby shooting ranges.
When I walked through the door it was to discover that my apartment mate was still up, wandering around in her pajamas. If she and I were romantically linked, it might have been inconvenient to come waltzing in reeking of cigars, several conflicting pipe tobaccos, and whisky. Women tend to be displeased when men go out and do mannish things without them. It suggests that we are capable of having a good time without any helpful suggestions.

But, as I indicated, we are not a couple.
Just very good friends who live together.

There was only one awkward moment.

"What is that dead thing in the refrigerator?"

It's so inconvenient living with a Chinese woman who remembers the goat leg in her mom's deepfreeze, the precious live tonic frogs that escaped and hid under the stove (except for the one that committed sepuku by leaping out of the window -- they lived on the top floor of their building), and the distressed little birdies penned in near the kitchen closet, that disappeared one by one. Plus remains of the Thanksgiving turkey, left out on the fire-escape one year. There was also an animal that she couldn't identify.
Such a person will naturally be suspicious, even paranoid, about items that one should not normally find in the refrigerator.
She's scarred for life.

And she has never had laap mei po chai fan.


A very simple dish: parboil enough rice for a meal, drain, and dump it into a clay pot of suitable size. Then cover it with preserved duck, thick sliced Chinese sausage, and one or two rashers of smoked bacon. Dump in some slivered ginger, and add a splash of stock (not too much), then put it on the stove to steam for twenty minutes.
It is a good idea to rinse and cut the preserved duck first, and skin the Chinese sausage.

Some briefly cooked gai lan (芥蘭) or yau choi (油菜) on the side, plus a saucer of hot sauce, and you have yourself a feast.
Or both of you, if there are two.

Done properly, the rice will be light and fluffy, and flavoured with the fattiness that exuded from the meats. Except for a thin layer of crack-crack-crack where it came in contact with the pot.
That, too, is fine to eat.

[Preserved (dried) duck: 臘鴨 ('laap ngaap'). Air-dried after soaking in a pickling liquid that contains sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and Prague powder. It is very delicious. Especially worth buying is preserved duck thigh: 臘鴨肶 ('laap ngaap pei'). Chinese sausage: 臘腸 ('laap cheung'); coarse minced fat and lean pork similarly treated, stuffed into a thumb-diameter casing and wind dried. I personally prefer "generous intestine" (膶腸 'yun cheung'), which is sausage made using duck liver. Very rich, very delightful. But you might want to use the regular kind instead. Bacon: 煙肉 ('yin yiuk'); American-style preserved meat.
Other ingredients that can also be included in laap mei po chai fan include preserved pork belly (臘肉 'laap yiuk'), re-humidified dried oysters (蠔豉 'hou si'), preserved chicken wings (臘雞翅 'laap kai chi'), even salt fish (鹹魚 'haam yü') and roast duck (燒鴨 'siu ngaap'). Some people even add fried tofu!]

If you cannot find a dried duck thigh, because you do not have access to my larder, an approximation may be achieved by using kielbasa instead. It won't be the same.

Anyhow, even after I explained what that object was (quaack quaack), and that because of pickling salts ('Prague powder') it was completely legit, she remained dubious.
Obviously quaack-quaack jerky is something only weird white guys eat.
At times she considers me a mighty fishy man.
As well as a bit foul-smelling.
Due to the pipe.

She's leery of the pipe and its aromas.

[Chinese women seldom smoke pipes, and perhaps consequently, perhaps not, many of them are suspicious of pipe-smokers. Pipe-smoking Chinese women are a rarity; if you find one, hold on fast. They are infinitely precious, what with being unique and independent minded.]

This is the same person who happily sings an ode to sausages upon returning from Trader Joe's, where I never shop.

"Sausages, sausages, sausages! Sausages, wonderful sohhhhhhhhh-sedge-uhz! Sausages! Oh, sausages, sausages, sausages! Sausages, sohhhhhhhhh-sedge-uhz! Sausages! Soh-soh-soh, soh-soh-soh, sausages!"

I too like sausages. But they seldom move me to song.
Chinese people can be very strange.

When I returned from Marin this evening, she was in the teevee room clutching a crazed simian (the gibbon whom I mentioned as having been tormented one Halloween years ago by Ralph the demented elf in the Marketing Department) while watching scandal-mongering. There was a small and very personable-looking great ape (Arabello Oyster, aka 'The Control Monkey', mentioned here) sitting in my bed.
I find this division extremely significant.
I get the sane monkey.

['yin-dau tung-tiu']

By the way, I'm not sure, but I think I actually met a Chinese female pipe-aficionado today. Something she said indicated that the various tobaccos and other smokers requisites were for her. It was still early, and I was somewhat abstracted, so I'm not entirely certain.
But my interest is peaked, and I need to find out more.

She seemed decisive and clear-headed.
Obviously intelligent.
And nice.

If indeed she is a pipe smoker, it would be both gracious and the proper thing to do to mention the pipe-club to her if/when we meet again, as the company and support of fellow pipe-smokers can be a mighty fine thing.
But I will do no such thing. They would go ape.
We absolutely cannot have that!

I recommended Vauen pipe cleaners, in case you were wondering.
These are what keep your pipes happy and smiling.
You want them that way.


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Friday, February 13, 2015


The Brits, as everyone knows, are peculiar. No more so than in their appreciation for tea. They founded an empire and despoiled the world to make sure they got some, their tea-swilling starts before dawn and ends long after dark. It's probably what makes life in a wet grey island bearable, especially as their food is downright unbelievable.

Because I drink an awful lot of tea myself, I can sort of understand what they're going through. I too am swacked to the gills by the time the sun breaks through the fog, never far from a cup for the next several hours, and will often prolong the day long past twilight with another spot.
Or several more cups.

I usually drink tea in three forms.

1) Black tea, plain and strong, without sugar or milk.
2) Chinese restaurant tea, which is often a mix of jasmine tea (香片 'heung pin'), cheap grades of Oolong (烏龍), and either Suisien (水仙茶 'seui sin chaa') or Pu Erh (普洱茶 'pou nei chaa').
3) Hong Kong style milk tea; a strong tannic brew modulated with sweetened condensed milk.

[港式奶茶 ('gong sik naai cha'): Hong Kong style milk-tea. Also called silk stocking tea (絲襪奶茶 'si mat naai cha'), because the cloth straining bag traditionally used ends up looking like an old lady's belabbered pantyhose, all droopy and draggy, and quite obscene. The Cantonese are known for calling a spade a spade. The tea leaves used for this product often combine strong Indian or Ceylon with a soupcon of lychee black tea (荔枝紅茶 'lei ji hong chaa') for fragrance, as well as keemun (祁門紅茶 'kei mun hong chaa') or Pu Erh (普洱). It should be heung heung gwat gwat (香香滑滑). Lapsang souchong (拉山小種) is not suitable, as it is too smoky.]

English people, however, do it differently.
There are TWO accepted methods for making tea in England.

The preferred method is dumping a large teabag in a mug, inundating it with boiling water, then splashing in some milk. This is what people do when they're in a hurry and want to jones-up pdq.
Add two lumps of sugar; sheer heaven.
Almost like it's a sunny day.

[Yorkshire tea, by Taylors of Harrogate, is excellent for this purpose.]

The second method involves a large porcelain teapot, often flowery, with a heaping spoonful of tea leaves for each cup it holds as well as one extra (for the pot). Crucially, the pot must be warmed up first. My father would place it upside-down on top of the kettle in lieu of a lid, whereas I simply rinse it out with boiling water before adding the leaves.
Always bring the pot to the kettle. Always.
Never the other way around.
Which is heresy.

[Suitable brands, if you cannot find a selection of loose-leaf black in your town, would be Twinings, available everywhere there's a Safeway or a Piggly Wiggly, and Typhoo.]

The true British peculiarity is not the tea. It's what they serve with it.

No, not ridiculous little finger sandwiches, sliced cake, or scones with clotted cream and fruit preserves; those are all fine, especially the hot scones. Easy to understand and love.

Bread. And either butter, OR jam. Not both. Never both. Having both is heresy, and will be punished by stern looks of disapproval.

Being a Yank, I am of course thoroughly used to stern looks of disapproval, as that is the preferred method whereby the world communicates with my kind. It does not bother me.
I shall have both butter AND jam.
If I choose.

I'm actually rather fond of buttered toast and Oxford marmalade.


Masala chai, made with green cardamom, fennel, and ginger, is also a noteworthy variation. But seeing as both the owner and the frightful Dravidian she-camel who worked there of the long since defunct Indian restaurant where I was the weekend cashier for over a decade both agreed that as a Gaura I didn't know beans about tea (vociferously!),
I have a bit of a mental block about it.
It's all right, I suppose.

American interpretations of chai, made at places like Starbucks or similar coffee joints, are not worth drinking.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015


One comestible which all exiles swear by, especially when properly ired by American attitudes toward British food, is HP Sauce. This is a viscous brown bottled condiment rather like a traditional chutney, in that it contains tamarind, but it is otherwise entirely different. Malt vinegar, tomato, dates, sugar, tamarind, salt, and spices. In British hospitals it is fed intravenously to the comatose.

HP Sauce goes with everything. Pan fried food, deep fried food, grilled food. You cannot make a bacon sandwich without it.


The British relative of the BLT lacks the L and T, but contains a bit more bacon, as well as butter and HP sauce. The bacon naturally should be English bacon, meaning that it isn't the streaky thin-cut American supermarket product, but side or back bacon, and somewhat drier than the belly bacon Americans are used to.

The bread should be from a decent loaf, cut at home, instead of the typical pre-sliced cottonwool that most Americans eat. If you live in San Francisco, you can get a good baked product; lovely dense bread with consistency and a toothsome quality. If you are out in the fly-overs, you may be entirely out of luck, in which case you have my sympathy, but I don't want you to move because SF is kind of crowded and we really don't need anymore people.
Please stay where you are. Or go to New York.
Yes, head to New York.
That's perfect.

Fry the bacon crisp, drain it on paper towels.
Cut the bread, toast it, then butter it.
Drizzle HP sauce on one slice.
Put the bacon over, then top with the other slice.
Cut the sandwich diagonally.
Have it with a cup of strong tea, with milk and sugar.

No, do not add tomato, or lettuce, or cucumbers, or sliced apple.
Healthy stuff does not belong in a bacon sandwich.

[Some people do NOT toast the bread. Heretics.]

Please note that British HP Sauce is no longer the same product that it used to be. No, moving the manufacture to Holland did not change it, government diktat did. There is less salt in it than before, in consequence of which the flavour balance went off, and the sourness is more prominent. There is no point in complaining to Heinz, which owns the brand, as they are merely obeying the regulatory agencies ("cuisine by committee"), but you can always sprinkle a little more salt on your food to compensate.

[Vegetarians and vegans can make a substitute which is perfectly suitable for them by putting tofu between two slices of wonderbread.]

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