Wednesday, October 18, 2017

THE FROG AT THE END OF MY FACE

After posting about congee yesterday, I went and had claypot rice instead. On the way to the eatery it was unseasonably warm and I had my jacket off. Mere minutes after leaving the restaurant I knew that autumn had started, and winter would be bitter and long this year.

Somehow, because of the cold wind, all thoughts of soft round body parts fled my mind. It was mostly speculative anyhow, an academic excercise.
What with being crusty and peculiar, I haven't seen or felt soft round body parts in several years. I would shriek in surprise if confronted with them.
Good lord, they are warm!
And fragrant!


鹹魚排骨煲仔飯
['haam yü paai gwat pou chai faan']

Fine smells, of course, are key. It was salt fish spare ribs claypot rice, in which the salt fish (鹹魚) provides a salty oily and quite heavenly frowst, much beloved by reasonable people of good taste and sound judgment.
Many of the people with whom I come into daily contact would probably not like it, because they are white and of limited sensibility. Left to my own devices, with an ample budget, I would not encounter them.
Quite so much.


In the discussion last night I mentioned Frog Morton On The Town, which came up because I had been smoking it yesterday afternoon following lunch, having bought a tin for rediscovery the day before after reading known-nix bloviation about the blend on a tobacco review site.


This sent my interlocutor into a fit of disconnected rambling, terminating in "crunchy frog" and "steel spring surprise", after also mentioning his missing keys, underwear, and the weather. Possibly the bucket of SriRacha he had poured on his burger was affecting him.

He refused to believe there is such a thing as frog tobacco. He should see some of the other blend names. Those people are even more in touch with their rich inner lives than him, and most of them without even the excuse or benefit of too much hot sauce late at night after dealing with a whole day's worth of San Francisco neurotics.

Some time later he remembered that he had left his windows open.
His sheets undoubtedly would be cold and frigid.
All one can do is commiserate.


It was, perhaps, the hint of autumn weather to come that spurred the change of plans. I like both congee and claypot rice, but it had been so long since enjoying the crinchie-crunch of crusty rice at the bottom that the prospect proved more thrilling than warm goo and an oil stick. I tried to explain to him that the oil stick (油條 'yau tiu', also called 油炸鬼 'yau ja kwai') should not be sweet or dense, so thinking of a churro or a donut is the wrong approach. Ideally they are light, flaky, fluffy, and freshly made.
But even cold they can be nice if properly done, and inhabitants of the Chinese modern urban crust do unspeakable things with them.
Slicing them open for cheesy hotdogs, as an example.
They are meant for dipping in congee.
Nothing else.

He was aghast at the idea of no cinnamon.

I then described "fried double" (炸兩 'jaa leung').
A yautiu enfolded in rice noodle sheet.
Steamed, dipped in soy.


He's still convinced that frog tobacco is goofy, and also probably that my food is bizarre, although the concept of Cantonese Cajun Fusion fascinates him. As someone who cooks Italian, he would probably suggest pasta for everything, and dropping the amphibs.




Frog Morton On The Town is precisely as I remembered it. Smoky, tarry, sweet, and resinous. Perfectly comforting and soothing in cooler weather, much like soft round body parts might be. Did I mention how long it's been? Unfortunately they are harder to get one's hands on than decent tobacco.
Frogs are reliable, never disappointing.
And perfect companions.
Ribbit.




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