Sunday, June 30, 2019


Apparently there are a whole host of superstitions governing giving birth, if you are Chinese. Cantonese. Hong Kongese. No bathing or cutting your hair for an entire month. No going outside, which, given the previous two, should be easy.

No visiting Lan Kwai Fong on a Saturday night.

Sorry, I just made that last one up.

I'm just considering how lucky I am, as a Caucasian male fast approaching old age, decrepitude, and senescence, that I am not likely to ever give birth. I have fast growing ear hair. One whole month without dealing with it, and I could braid it. Or double for Yoda. Nobody told me that the aging process would mean stuff growing out of my ears.

No raw vegetables, fruit, or cold water.

No visitors for the first twelve days.

No crying, housework, reading.

No unhappy thoughts.

Specific foods.

I'm still hung up on the hair. Given my age, race, and gender, I've reached the stage in life when one must deal with stuff growing out of the ears. On a regular basis, because I don't want to scare little kids or the nurses at the clinic.


At least, that's what I think they'd exclaim. And I don't know whether I'm expressing that properly or not. "waa, ni-wei lou gwailo yau leung-go mou-san-san ge gwaaimat chung keui-ge yi chut-lai lo-boh".
It's not something on which I'm planning.

Shave the ear lobes. Plus the edges and the rims.
What sticks out gets trimmed.

No, I am not going to ask my Cantonese apartment mate about this.
I think she's probably traumatized enough already.

I am a thoughtful man.

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


From the cockpit, the southern side of the peninsula is clearly visible, container terminals and bridges to Green Robe Island. As you fly over the waist of the peninsula, it looks like the ground is coming closer. Sports fields can be seen below. Mountains. Then the checkerboard. Bank right for a sharp turn and drop about one hundred and sixty meters. Throttle back as you level. Maintain nose altitude below runway threshold. Lower wheels, reverse thrust, aim for the far end of the tarmac.
Adjust for strong crosswinds, especially during typhoon season.
From the checkerboard to the ground, about one minute.

A landing between a nightmare and a heart attack.

Billboards and the terminal to the left.

IGS approach to runway 13.

Amlodipine Besylate can make dreams much more intense, more real.
That's NOT what the purpose of the medication is.
But just an added benefit.

Seventy knots.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019


This week had it's fun moments. I tried to convince the nurse who took my blood pressure at the hospital, and put the little rubber clampy thing on my finger that measures oxygen saturation levels (the pulse oximeter) that, as the device couldn't find anything, this patient had to be a zombie.
And seeing as she had never even heard of Rainaud's phenomenon, an exciting digital affliction, I very nearly succeeded.

Logic; it's a nurse's worst nightmare.
If coming from a patient.

The doctor spoiled it all by putting the clampy thing on a different finger.
His own.

Which merely proved that the device was not malfunctioning.

It didn't establish conclusively that I am NOT a zombie, though.
I am persuasive, and can stare straight ahead woodenly.
Just call me 僵屍叔叔。


One of the first Hong Kong movies I saw in Chinatown was Mr. Vampire (僵屍先生 'geung si sin saang'), which is based on the Chinese belief in hopping zombies (so not vampires, those are 吸血鬼 'kap huet kwai'; "suck blood daemons") that prey on a live human's vital energies.
Too stiff with rigour mortis to move, except by jumping.
Please don't ask me to explain how they do so.
I might be dead, but I'm not Bram Stoker.

That movie proved that the Cantonese can have fun with corpses.
Also that Ricky Hui (許冠英 'heui gun ying') was a genius.

If you love egg tarts, blame Ricky.

Nah, won't bother explaining that.
You can find answers on the net.

I'll just mention that I've seen probably every Mr. Vampire rip-off made since then, as well as every movie that Ricky Hui was ever in.
Consider it part of my education.

I doubt that the nurse has seen any of them.
A pity.

Many of the best movies have hugely entertaining hospital scenes, so I'm familiar with the environment. Shan't cross-dress like Ricky, though.

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

Friday, June 28, 2019


Something yesterday reminded me of a little story I wrote four years ago. It's one of my better stories, which I reread with wonder (I really wrote that? Golly!), and it prompted me to consider whether there might be any market for Vegan Chinese Pastries? I rather think not, as the audience that loves Chinese bakery items is, of course, largely Chinese. Who, especially in this city, tend to be Cantonese, and realistic about what tastes good. Adventurous, but not crazy.

Why compete with the white people on that?

We Caucasians are so good at it.

Short story in which flaky charsiu turnovers play a role.

To many Cantonese, an immensely important aspect of food is textural. Mouth feel can make or break a dish, more than presentation or visual appeal. Which are also very important. That, probably, is why broccoli has become such a popular vegetable. It's so nice and green!

The fact that broccoli tastes like broccoli hasn't quite registered.

Imagine a happy little Cantonese girl, at the dinner table, with bright eyes scoping out the steaming platter of fatty pork curls and broccoli. It looks so beautiful! Fresh, verdant, and jade-like! And moistly glistening!
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
Fragrant steam rises, mingling with the other vapours: sesame oil, reduced superior stock, garlic, the subtle incense-like perfume of ginger ....

She can't wait to try it. She's never had this before!

Her chopsticks fairly dance in her stubby little hand.
First her parents, then the older siblings.
And finally, it's her turn.

That first bite.


"What the bloody hell is this crap?!?!"


Really, it's a darn good thing that little Cantonese girls are "tactful" and forbearing at an early age. As well as, usually, not entirely fluent in your and my English.
And furthermore it's just as well that I was never a little Cantonese girl, because I would be awful at it. Also, my first exposure to the horror that is every Caucasian Vegan's favourite boiled vegetable didn't happen till I was an adult, as my parents never tortured me.
I can still remember visiting some friends one evening, and wondering what that peculiar odour was. It turns out they had cooked broccoli.

Anyhow, please read Eight Legs Cafe (linked above), and remember that pork and duck and chicken and lobster and fish are all delicious.

They'll make any meal a feast.

This post brought to you by The Crusade Against Lettuce©.
Which is also opposed to broccoli.
And lima beans.

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

Thursday, June 27, 2019


There was a debate among the Democrat candidates on television this evening, which I largely ignored, despite the howls from the lounge where the cigar smokers were, and I still haven't read anything about it.
So I can't really comment. Never-the-less, I heard parts of it.
Superficial first impressions: glib, angry, and unrealistic.
Over the next several months we will weed out all the luftmenschen, and then be left with someone who doesn't stand a chance.

I look forward to torch and pitchfork time.

On that note, a conversation I overheard on the street.

"One of these days, I'll get what I deserve!"

"Run, Kyle, run!!!"

That last sentence sounded frantic and desperate. Kyle had better run, his life might depend upon it. And in any case, he has a head start.

Unlike the debates, that's a conversation of which I wish I had heard more. Despite not knowing any of the people involved (there were several of them). Kyle might be a better candidate than any of the current presidential wannabees.

Don't invite any of these people over for chip and dip.

Especially not the elderly geezer.

Or Willie Brown's proxy.

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


Went to see my doctor yesterday for a six-month follow-up since the stent procedure at the beginning of February. Also had two prescriptions refilled.
As usual, label warnings: don't get pregnant, don't fly an aeroplane.
Dang. I have to seriously revise my bucket list.

A friend commented that by all accounts the RAF distinguished themselves in WWII while constantly hung over. Which is true, but they were English, so being hungover is their natural state. That was the country that in the Elizabethan age sent kids to school with a half pint of ale, and a well-filled clay pipe to smoke during classes. Adults who could afford it, for centuries, would be drunk by dusk. Only the institution of tea-time stopped that.
Since then they wait till dinner to get soused.
Or just noon.

Please don't think I'm slagging the English; the Dutch, Germans, and Irish are very similar. It's probably the beastly climate.

And the food.


Now, speaking of food: my doctor tells me, regarding gout, uric acid, and cholesterol, that there is probably no problem with lobster once a week, or for July Fourth. Pursuant which he asked what I was going to do on that day. Nothing, not even going to watch fireworks. Too much fog, cold on top of the hills. And further, he mentions that Ipomoea aquatica (as he calls it: " 空心菜/通心菜 "kōngxīncài"/通心菜"tōngxīncà") needs to be washed with care, because there might be little things or creepy crawlies inside the hollow stems. In Cantonese, which he doesn't speak, it's called 水通菜 ('seui tong choi') or 水蕹菜 ('seui ong choi'). Commonly just 蕹菜 ('ong choi'). We both know it originally as 'kangkong', great stirfried with red chili paste, shrimp sauce, splash of broth, and garnished with a sprinkle of fried peanuts. Sambal goreng kangkong or tjao kangkong.


So naturally I'm thinking a dish of lobster with sautéed water spinach.
Touch of shrimp paste only. Very high heat for the vegetable.
Seethe with sherry, add the lobster chunks.
It's a possibility.

Also, braised pork belly as an accompaniment.

He's Chinese from Indonesia, I'm an American-born person of Netherlandish heritage who speaks Dutch, and some Indonesian and Cantonese. We have a lot of food in common. Shared gustatory survival tactics. Sambal.

Discuss food when seeing the doctor; it brightens everything.

For gouty individuals, beer is the great danger.
So Belgian food is quite out of the question.

No drunkard's chicken made with ale.

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Over the years the intersection of Broadway and Columbus has changed. A popular breakfast spot run by straight-shooting Korean gentlemen is presently a mediocre Burrito joint, the nearby cookie store now sells either shocking lingerie or Italian food to tourists (I am not sure which), the place where the local North Africans watched three world cups has become something else, a croissant bakery is now either a bubble tea lounge or something Japanese, and the Taiwan restaurant became a pizzeria, which closed last week.

How sad. You used to find shitty pizza everywhere! At least TWO places right near City Lights! Now you can't. You will have to live healthier.
Gluten-phobes, rejoice.

Oh, and the Hungry i is no longer open for business either.

No pizza was ever allowed on the premises.

Back in my day, sonny, there would be at least one shooting or stabbing on that three block stretch of Broadway every week. The good old days!

Exploitative titty shows, drugs and gangs, and bad pizza go together.
Whatever will our sailors now do when they visit in October?

My guess is visit yoga studios and drink kale shakes.
Those are the new paradigm.

This blogger, it will come as no surprise to regular readers, fervently sneers at yoga studios and kale shakes. Both of those are far better with bacon.
I would suggest kale and bacon pizza should be made popular, but if that combo doesn't exist yet, it's only a matter of time before someone introduces it. Bacon pizza is available, kale is often added to pizza for health freaks.

I often say that everything tastes better with Sriracha.

But no, man, no.

Just no.

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


The best, and the worst, that could be said is that at least it wasn't "Sweet Caroline". Which is probably one of the most repulsive ballads to be howled at a karaoke place. But at that hour the bookseller and I were the only white people there, and hell will freeze over before we ever do that.
In fact, we don't sing at all at the karaoke place.
We don't go there for the music.

Every week, for many years, we meet for drinkies. Hamburger place, then an establishment with beer, after which to what is now a karaoke lounge for a nightcap. We're older now, and the person behind the counter is sane.
It didn't used to be like that; another person worked on our night, who was stark raving loopy (after a decade plus of too much Tequila), and wouldn't have understood if we refused to "have another one".

"G'waan, one mo', evibody happy!"

That's an order, dammit.


I have to wonder what her reaction would have been if I informed her that due to necessary and beneficial medication I prefer not to touch alcohol anymore. She would have been irrational, and quite upset.

So! Mixed soda at the burger joint, Earl Grey tea at the beer place, and a nice refreshing glass of hot water while listening to people caterwauling.
Everything sounds worse if sung in Mandarin.


Earlier we had from our vantage point at the beer place observed high drama in the alley. One recumbent gentleman there trying to adjust his arse, another one unfolding a Saudi flag, followed by the German flag, and a third stumbling, weaving, then falling against the wall and bleeding while dazed, which may have been caused by booze and marijuana together.
Instead of bonking his head.

Emergency services were called, and took him in, bandaging his head and placing him on a gurney. He probably pissed himself in the ambulance. The arse man spent the entire while either looking for fleas or picking invisible lint out of his crotch and rear end. Flag dude went off to get a canned drink.
Someone slopped a bucket of hot soapy water over the blood puddle on the pavement. Flag dude threw his blanket over the wet area and reclined on it.
Then arse man stood up to drop his pants and re-hitch his underwear.
Sat down again, threw an empty can at the lamp post.
After which he fell asleep.

Visually, the alley was more interesting than the karaoke lounge.

North Beach used to be a very different place. Brighter, cleaner, more joyous, and much, much less like the film-sets for a play by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol. Something pretentious, meaningful, and filled with doistorychne slavyanskaya ekzistentsyal angst.

Murderous love, drunken peasants, vile cossacks.

At the beer place someone was writing in her journal, quite oblivious to the real world happening all around her.

The burger joint is still good. Sober well-behaved individuals, some with interesting hair, enjoying good artery clogging food under bright lights and speaking a variety of languages.

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Naturally I am curious about the people who read my little essays. Unfortunately, other than the few that I am lucky enough to also know in real life, I can't guess what my readers are like, or what they are thinking.
Some of them are undoubtedly interested in food.
A few share my liberal worldview.
One or two visit daily

Who are you?

The most frequently visited posts on this blog today in order have been the following:

Jun 25, 2019
Liberals, and reasonably well-read. Daily guests.

Apr 27, 2011
My guess is white men in Hong Kong.

Jun 24, 2019
Food mavens and travellers.

Nov 19, 2012

Jun 24, 2019
Fellow skeptics as well as frequent (and rational) visitors.

Aug 12, 2018
Given that this has been visited every day for well over half a year, some people are forwarding the link. They're probably Chinese, because almost no one else would be interested.

Aug 9, 2013
This one appeals only to pipe smokers.

June 18, 2019
Fairly frequent guests, San Francisco residents.

April 19, 2019
It's about a Chinese food stuff. Maybe some people are looking to add something interesting to their diet? It's absolutely delicious, in any case.

June 19, 2019
Readers with a keen interest in the delightful things available at local bakeries. This post is about food. Snackipoos.

There is probably considerable overlap of reader-types, but the Venn diagram is difficult to picture. Without further data, not worth attempting.

Maybe most bloggers wish to appeal to people like them. But that would be difficult and no fun at all. I am a Dutch American, middle aged, and in many ways not a person that I would like to know. Catering to someone like me would be dreary. Too stubborn, too opinionated, too smelly (tobacco).
There is, boringly, already more than enough of me in my life.

There are food posts; I like to cook. And eat.
There are pipe-related posts; I smoke.
There are 'political' posts; I bitch.
It's a window and a soapbox.

Pet peeves: quack science, food neuroses, Christians, right-wingers.
Oh and fruity cocktails, but I hardly ever talk about those.

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


Several years ago I suggested in a blog essay to which I will not link that Kermit the Frog was considerably sexier than Andy Lau (Lau Tak-wah 劉德華). And I will stand by that post (to which I will not link). Kermit has aged quite well, Andy has become more bizarre. Personally I model myself far more on that frog than on a fabulously successful Hong Kong film actor.

I've seen videos of Andy Lau on stage recently. Holy crap.

Admittedly, Kermit's love life is not worth emulating. A pretentiously snooty egomaniac with whom as of 2015 he no longer forms a couple, followed by some porcine person named 'Denise' who broke up with him after less than half a year.

Showbiz, apparently, is hard on the single frog.

But Kermit is still a fine looking bachelor.

It's not known if he's currently dating.

The other Muppets are not quite as much worth styling oneself after, though there may be some similarities with me that I would prefer not to stress.
I would far rather be like Ralph the Piano Player, despite my lack of any musical ability, than Fozzie Bear or Gonzo the Great. Pepe the King Prawn also has a certain appeal (and great self-confidence).
As does Cookie Monster.

The first person to say "Swedish Chef" might get smacked.

This would be the perfect moment to post a recipe for Swedish Meatballs, except that there is no such thing in my repertoire. Over-spiced and served in a horrid gravy? You don't need my advice on doing that.

Besides which, I note that there is no allspice in my kitchen. It's a key ingredient.

The Italians, the Dutch, and the Chinese do better meatballs.

To my mind, fatty pork yields the tastiest result.

Clearly Kermit doesn't eat meatballs.

In that regard, we differ.

Post Scriptum: a meatball is called a 'gehaktbal' (guh hacked bawl) in Dutch, which is the other language in which I often think. When applied to a another person, it is not a flattering term. Originally flung in denigration at strike breakers on the docks (late twenties), subsequently used for school or work associates who insisted that everything had to be done precisely according to the rules. Nowadays more or less a dummy or a dweeb. Een bal gehakt (ayn ball guh-hacked) = an oaf, a bore, a dingbat, or a dunderhead.

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


Or, how twitter bots go to work.

Andrew Feinstein@andrewfeinstein
I am Jewish. My mother was a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps. I have lectured at Auschwitz on genocide prevention. I experienced anti-Semitism in apartheid South Africa. I can state unequivocally that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite!

I am Jewish. My mother was a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps. I have lectured at Auschwitz on genocide prevention. I experienced anti-Semitism in apartheid South Africa. I can state unequivocally that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite!

I am Jewish. My mother was a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps. I have lectured at Auschwitz on genocide prevention. I experienced anti-Semitism in apartheid South Africa. I can state unequivocally that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite!

Newham First@newhamfirst
Dear Matt Hancock@conservatives
As a Jew, the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps and some1 who has lectured at Auschwitz on Holocaust prevention, I find your comment deeply repugnant & offensive to the memory of all who died in the Shoah.

Mome..did someone say Toilet@mohammedmehboo6
Dear Matt Hancock@conservatives
As a Jew, the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps and some1 who has lectured at Auschwitz on Holocaust prevention, I find your comment deeply repugnant & offensive to the memory of all who died in the Shoah.


Now then. As a goy, with no personal connection to the Holocaust (although both parents and their siblings were in the military (United States and Canadian) during the war, I can probably state, with a fair degree of certainty, that Jeremy Corbyn is a piece of shit.

I read a lot and I know things.

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


Since last Thursday I have been wary of talking to the regular cigar smokers. Too many of them, as it turns out, are okay with concentration camps -- as well as, presumably, children dying in custody -- but object furiously to calling those places "concentration camps".

Re-education facilities? Hotels with constraints? Latino pens? People Parking Lots? Temporary Housing? Stationary Orbits? Summer Homes For the Footsore? Tanforan Assembly Centers? Manzanariums?

Minimum security with golf and tennis?

Jeff, who is my age, responded with a long farkakte meise about a North African criminal in Toronto when I used the term "concentration camp". Which is all very well Jeff, but somewhere along the way you lost me.
As well as any respect I might have had for you.
And your basic humanity.

In my version of English, we call the places where ICE warehouses far too many people in too little space under horrible conditions with deliberate ill-treatment "concentration camps". It seems accurate because people who are considered "undesirable" because of their legal status, ethnicity, and national origins, are "concentrated" there with armed guards and fences.

It's only a matter of time before disease and malnutrition start taking a toll.
As well as abuse by the guards (already reported).
Concentration camps.

The word "concentration camp" came in to existence to describe the facilities that the British used to break the back of Afrikaner (Boer) resistance. Basically, it was a means of controlling the local Dutch-descended population after diamonds had been discovered. So you'll understand that the reality is likely to have a certain frisson of disquiet for Dutchmen. It means something. We remember that.
Almost like salt on a wound.

俘虜収容所 ('Furyo shūyōsho')
Campo de concentración

Do you really think describing it as an unsafe overfilled badly run temporary detention facility with substandard shelter, sanitary conditions, and food, meant by government policy to instill fear among members of certain ethnic groups, is any better?

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

Monday, June 24, 2019


A recent dinner: Shanghai soup with meatballs. The meatballs were a smaller variation on 'lions heads' (迷你獅子頭 'mai nei si ji tau') with Shanghai wheat noodles (上海麵 'seung hoi min') and shredded fresh mustard cabbage (芥菜 'gai choi'). Touch of ginger, touch of red oil.
And a touch of porkfat.

Lion's head meatballs are the basic pork meatball with a little spicing, and chopped water chestnut (馬蹄 'maa tai') for crunch, braised and then wetly steam-finished. On a bed of something cabbage-like, four to a pot. They're considered a Shanghai thing, even though the cook who made them for you was probably Cantonese. They had to be 'mini' (迷你) of course, because there was only one diner (me). Usually lion's heads are big 'uns.
The mane is represented by cabbage or lettuce.

The soup came into play because I like noodles for slurping, and I needed a starch. Broth, dash of soy, pinch of sugar. Dump everything into a bowl, drizzle in a little Chekiang vinegar and add some sambal, then plonk myself down in the teevee-computer room to read and eat.

Heaven between chopsticks.

Canto pronunciation: 'seung hoi yiuk yuen tong min'.

It's not particularly that I want to eat alone, but I like my own cooking, and my tastes have grown up since my youth. I do not wish to have meatloaf, or steak and potatoes. Or the Wasp versions of spaghetti and chops.

So, by long habit, I cook for myself. It's by no means an apathetic lack of choice thing. It's more like a life-style. San Francisco enthusiasm.

For your information, I am not from Shanghai, nor even Cantonese. Dutch-American ancestry. We went to Holland when I was two years old, I came back when I was college age. Dutch speaking, conversant in Cantonese, German, Indonesian. Foul-tongued when alone, multiple ways.

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


A doctor friend has had episodes that worried him, and is waiting for the test results, as well as whatever further tests may be required, once he sees a neurologist.

Being quite the medical expert -- graduate of the internet university casual research and glib interpretation school of medicine -- naturally I gave him the same advice I myself received from many other people most of last year, before my insurance kicked in and I could afford to get what obviously was high blood pressure and arterial blockage dealt with by people who knew what they were doing. Instead of listening to know-it-all new age eejits.

"One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar everyday, half a teaspoon of turmeric, no gluten, and all natural organic wild honey instead of sugar or corn syrup"

Plus cayenne and ginger. They kick-start the healing process.

One of the people who recently gave me a version of that advice told me that if I discarded my "chemical big business" medicines(*), and did what he said (especially the apple cider vinegar), I would live to be a hundred.

Naturally I believed him. He damned well looks like he's a hundred, so it must be working. But maybe it's just the unique free-spirit get-up (new age eejit); artistic rags make people look older.

Anyhow, Jim promised me, with a face as straight and serious as mine had been delivering that ridiculous advice, that he would do as I advised.

Apple cider vinegar and turmeric.
Plus cayenne and ginger.
Fer sure.

I look forward to hearing what the tests show, and that there is a treatment that solves the problem. I think we can rule out high blood pressure and arterial blockage. That's what gluten-free, organic apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and hippie shamans cure.

* Chemical big business medicines: Losartan-hctz, Amlodipine Besylate, Metoprolol, and Clopidogrel; they're the karmic equivalent of wild bee honey, without any damned wild bees.

Post Scriptum: Another friend is afflicted with both irritable bowel syndrome and frequent constipation. He needs to take ... a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar everyday, half a teaspoon of turmeric, no gluten, and all natural organic wild honey instead of sugar or corn syrup. All his problems will disappear, and he'll be a total chick magnet. Guaranteed!

Plus cayenne and ginger.

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

Sunday, June 23, 2019


This blogger finds himself yearning for something that takes too long to make on a work day, seeing as I return from Marin with only a few hours left before bed. And on non-work days, I dawdle till the afternoon. Three or four hours in the kitchen? Mmm, maybe not. Besides, vegetable side dishes are required, otherwise my doctor would have a fit.
Evenso, one of these days, baby.


Hakka style steamed pork belly with preserved vegetables.

I know what you are thinking. But the preserved veggies are not really a major component, nor particularly healthy, because we're talking salted and somewhat dehydrated, and the sheer porky goodness of the dish should induce fits of dietary guilt, even horror, among my more fastidious acquaintences.

Slightly over a pound of pork is enough for about three or four people. The preserved vegetables, after soaking and rinsing, should have a volume of about between two thirds and roughly equal to the amount of pork. A bit of garlic and ginger, plus three or four tablespoons of soy sauce, and a hefty jigger of Siu Heng ricewine or sherry. Teaspoon of sugar.

Coarsely chop the rehydrated (if dried, they should be soaked for at least two or three hours; if tinned or plastic packed, half that) plum vegetable (梅菜 'mui choi', or 雪裡蕻/雪里紅 'suet lei hung'; a type of brassica) coarsely. Parboil the entire piece of pork in boiling water for about ten to fifteen minutes, drain and cool, and rub all over with soy sauce (about two TBS) to give it some colour, especially the rind. Then fry it in hot oil all over, two or three minutes. Watch out for splashing. Take it out, and when it's cooled enough to handle, cut it into thick slices. Layer the bottom of a metal, ceramic, or pyrex bowl with the slices, rind side down.
Add little sprinkle of sugar.

Gild the chopped garlic and ginger (a suitable quantity, use your own judgement). When they have started to colour, add the plum vegetable and saute till nicely fragrant; add the siu heng wine and a tablespoon or two of soy sauce. Stir. Decant, and layer on top of the pork; there should be a little clearance only. Put a plate on top, and place in the steamer for about three hours. More time will not hurt the dish.

Now this next part requires care: take the bowl out of the steamer, place a serving plate with a deep rim upside down over the bowl, and deftly flip it so everything ends up on the plate. Bottom layer mui choi, then the thick slices of now superbly tender fatty pork.

Well, anyway you serve it, it's delicious, and you could impress a date or your relatives with your cooking skill. Even most children will love it.
And probably pester a parent to learn how to prepare it.

I prefer a bit more ginger than garlic.

Plenty of rice, to sop up the juices.

This dish brings back fond memories for many people, possibly excepting those with self-imposed dietary restrictions or scrawny white hysterics.

I promise I'll never cook for them.

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


We Dutch invented the cookie. You can thank us. We were also ahead of the Germans and Turks regarding efficient exterminatory practices, but we invented the cookie. It's the little things that count. Remember that!

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Despite my obvious senescence and grouchiness, I will confess that there is one group of people whom I actually like. Little kids. No, it's not their purity, innocence, and as-yet unrestrained imagination, or any of those saccharine qualities that people praise and worship.

It's their complete lack of filter.

They feel things.

Like the little girl who loudly exclaimed: "wah, ho sik ah!" (it's delicious!), the small boy who spent twenty minutes petting a dog because "it's so fluffy!", or the mutant troll who told me that my tobacco "stanky!".

Enthusiasm, kids, y'all still have your unrestrained enthusiasm. All of it unedited by any mature consideration of nuance.
Exclamation marks.

Yeah, that cream-filled pastry is indeed 'delicious', that dog is very nice and you're hogging all the petting time, dammit, and 'stank' is a matter of interpretation and education, for both of which you sadly lack the ability.

The little kid weeping the other day because he didn't want to visit his aunt was, probably, the most charming thing I had seen all week.
Piteous! Heartfelt! And so, so delightful.

I seldom have that reaction when adults cry.
It's always a much more serious despair.
Which makes me very uncomfortable.

When children are unhappy, a large part of it is the inability to frame things adequately; their vocabulary and grammar are not developed enough, they themselves consequently cannot understand the situation very well.

I have the words and the ability for that.

In a way it's a handicap.

And no, I damned well refuse to wear that singing bass party hat with which you are threatening me. It's undignified. Extremely.

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

Friday, June 21, 2019


There are large parts of our country that I have no wish to visit. All of the South, the entire Mid-West, and a large part of the East Coast. I know what those place are like, and I have met enough of their people that there is no need to go there. Anyway, if I went, I'd just get into arguments with them.

Sure, not all of them are "that way".

But I'm not very tolerant anymore. And an endless prospect of strip malls, deep fried franchises, and roadside attractions (World's Biggest Ball of Twine, George Washington Slept Here, National Museum of Funeral History, banjos, or anything Elvis) has no appeal whatsoever.

The internet has largely taken away the urge to travel.

Only ONE thing requires on-site experience.


For everything else: computers, a well-stocked library, and the zoo.

The Oregon Zoo has a lovable red panda. So does a zoo in Fargo, North Dakota, but Oregon is closer. Likewise Cincinnati, but again, Oregon. And I'm sure several other places, but seeing as most of those cities have Elvis, big damned balls of twine, and either funeral museums or beds where famous dead people allegedly slept, no.

Oh yeah, there's also New York.

I'm not that fond of pizza.

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019


Okay then. Today two of the regulars fairly blew up at my calling those places "concentration camps", because they're Jewish and only they can use that term. And because they're a Trump-supporting weasel and a Trump-apologist respectively, they will not call those places that.
Fair enough.

The Armenians were "re-educated". The Boers were "restrained". And the Japanese Americans were "Americanized". We provided rich fertile lands for the American Indians; they just didn't appreciate it.

Those places on the border where we're having women and children sleep on concrete under harsh lighting with scant healthcare or sanitary facilities are good Christian lodgings, why, they're "Southern Hospitality Suites".

ICE is staffed by kindly humanitarians with charity in their hearts.

I'm totally cool with being shouted down by assholes.

Esquire: An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That's Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border

JTA: Let’s stop arguing about ‘concentration camps’ and start talking about our dehumanizing immigration system

NYMAG: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, the History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own


Pacific Standard: YES, TRUMP'S DETENTION CENTERS ARE CONCENTRATION CAMPS -- These are concentration camps, and denying as much merely prepares the way for worse atrocities to come.

National Catholic Reporter: Editorial: Don't look away from concentration camps at the border

Slate: Not Every Concentration Camp Is Auschwitz -- Why it’s fair to use the controversial phrase in the debate over U.S. immigrant detentions.

GQ: How the Trump Administration's Border Camps Fit into the History of Concentration Camps

LA Times: Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps

George Takei: "I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America."


All those treacherous little kiddie Hispanic thugs-in-training presently receive sanitation and clean mylar bedding in a supportive Christian environment, along with a free American education that, one fervently hopes, will turn them away from their natural life of crime.
And it's all free!

Besides, they'll be going back where they came from soon.
And anyway, they are all Catholics, you know.
So none of it actually matters.

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


On the tin of cigarillos before me, there is a large warning that says "Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes". Well duh. It should however say that cigars ARE a safe alternative to crack cocaine, serious food poisoning, and fundamental Christianity, and have the additional benefit of chasing away most vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-phobic hysterics.

That would be a far more useful warning label.

"Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes"

That text had to have been written by an idiot anti-smoker. Reason being that cigars, even cigarillos, cost a lot more than a pack of cigarettes, and are harsher on the inhale to boot. If you smoke cigars for the nicotine, you are in almost all ways better off with a pack of Luckies.

A good cigar in California cost nearly twice what a pack of cheap smokes will run you. It's more affordable to be a heroine addict.

News flash: Heroine is not a safe alternative to anything. But it's cheaper than emergency medical care, children, visiting your damned in-laws, and decent stogies. So go ahead. Who am I to stop you? It's also considerably more affordable than psychotherapy for the years of abuse you suffered as a child, and most of your fellow junkies will tolerate your belief that you are a reincarnated Inca princess, or a great artist, far more than the rest of us ever can.

Cigars are a good alternative for fast-food. So instead of reaching for that burger-fries-carbonated beverage combo for breakfast, just light up a fine Nicaraguan. An hour of relaxation with a nice cheroot does far more for your oral gratification, with less damage to your digestive system.

Smoking looks more manly (or womanly) too.

As a pipe smoker, primarily, I think that society's ever increasing restrictions and disapprovals are a monumental pain in the gand.
The irritation factor creates a far greater danger to the public.
One of these days someone might run amuck.
Take out a disapproving troll or two.

Or blow smoke in their faces.

Go ahead; light up.

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


There are several food places near the apartment where I live that I have not patronized, and others where I have not eaten in months or years. The neighborhood has changed a bit. Restaurants now cater to a modern and mostly techno-yuppie crowd, whose ability to try new things is limited by Midwestern and East-Coast food conservatism coupled with a love for hip Franco-Newyorkish pretensions. Plus glutenfree, meatless, and "natural". What this means is boring Thai, boring Pizza, and absolutely repulsive Chinese, and at least three restaurants where you can get Alice Waters inspired expensive "cuisine". Which is'precious'.

I have never been very fond of "cuisine".

Food, hot sauce, coffee or tea.

Plus friendly staff.

The burrito joint has vegan and vegetarian, the nearest Chinese restaurant does a fabulous trade in egg rolls, General Tso, and sweet and sour, plus kungpao vegetables, plus there's an "American" restaurant.
Biscuits covered with artisanal cheddar and gravy.
Champagne cocktails!

Which means that old folks, natives, and kids, can all go piss up a rope.

No, this ain't gonna be one of those long old man ranting what is this world coming to kids these days, back in my day, or grandpa Simpson wearing the onion on his belt essays. This blogger is NOT creaky enough for that!
On the plus side, there is an excellent bakery nearby, and also a restaurant with great burgers and fries. Plus a crêpe place and a donut shop that does good Vietnamese type sandwiches, which unfortunately closes too early.
And the only real issue is that none of these businesses will let me smoke my pipe inside and chase away the flies and vegetarians with my fumes.

Basically, it's all about demographics, and I am not it.

That's a primary reason I head over to Chinatown on my off days for lunch and snackipoos. Fewer people staring at their cell phones, and better food. More interesting conversations to overhear too. Locutions!

It's a calmer and far less hip environment.

[No, can't smoke inside there either. Dang.]

No one really wants to listen to the latest sports events while chomping on a scrumptious pastry or chowing down on bitter melon omelette with rice. If a teevee is on, there's a soap opera or a news broadcast, and no eyes are glued in rapt attention to the screen. Primarily because that takes away from the food and talk.

Most places do have WiFi, but I have never seen anyone working on their laptop while the ice melts or their food goes cold.

That's what BoBa places might be for.


Because I mentioned 'snackipoos', which for me are mostly pastries, here's a partial list of fun things to eat at the bakeries in Chinatown, most of which also have HK milk tea, as well as other drinks.
They want you to be happy.

芝士蘑菇包 ('ji si mo gu baau'): Cheese and mushroom bun.
雞包 ('gai baau'): Chicken bun (steamed).
叉燒包 ('chaa siu baau'): Charsiu bun (steamed).
焗叉燒包 ('guk chaa siu baau'): baked charsiu bun.
菠蘿叉燒包 ('bo lo chaa siu baau'): Pineapple charsiu bun (does not contain pineapple, vaguely looks like pineapple).
奶油包 ('naai yau baau'): Cream bun.
蔥油條 ('chung yau baau'): Scallion bun.
菠蘿奶黃包 ('bo lo naai wong baau'): Pineapple cream bun.
火腿蛋包 ('fo teui daan baau'): Ham and egg bun.
毛毛蟲 ('mou mou chung'): "Hairy hairy bug"; cream and jam bun.
蔥油肉鬆卷 ('chung yau yiuk sung kuen'): Scallion and pork floss roll.
紅豆菠蘿包 ('hung dau bo lo baau'): Red bean paste filled pineapple bun.
肉鬆包 ('yiuk sung baau'): Pork floss bun.
菠蘿包 ('bo lo baau'): Pineapple bun.
椰香包 ('ye heung baau'): Coconut bun.
豆沙包 ('dau saa baau') Red bean paste bun, which is very old school.
瑞士捲 ('seui si kuen'): Swiss roll; a rolled sheet cake with sweet cream filling.
咖啡牛奶捲 ('gaa fei ngau naai kuen'): Coffee cream Swiss roll.
朱古力瑞士卷 ('chiu gu lik seui si kuen'): Chocolate cream Swis roll.
香蘭瑞士卷 ('heung laan seui si kuen'): Pandan (fragrant screwpine) flavoured cream Swiss roll.
芒果瑞士捲 ('mong gwo seui si kuen'): Mango Swiss roll.
芋頭瑞士捲 ('wu tau seui si kuen'): Sweet taro paste Swiss roll.
鲜草莓瑞士卷 ('sin chou mui seui si keun'): Fresh Strawberries Swiss Roll, also called 士多啤梨瑞士卷 ('si do bei li seui si kuen').
奶油筒 ('naai yau tung'): Cream horn.
咖啡奶油筒 ('gaa fei naai yau tung'): Coffee cream horn.
合桃酥 ('hap tou sou'): Walnut pastry.
皮蛋酥 ('pei daan sou'): Preserved egg pastry.
椰撻 ('ye taat'): Coconut tart.
紙包蛋糕 ('ji bau daan gou'): Paper wrapped cupcake. 蛋糕 ('daan gou') means Western style cake.
老婆餠 ('lou pou beng') Wife cake; an old-fashioned pastry with a candied winter melon paste inside.
蛋撻 ('daan taat') Egg tart. There are truly excellent ones at Double A Bakery (永興餅家 'wing hing bing kaa') on Stockton Street.
叉燒酥 ('chaa siu sou') a flaky turnover with barbecued pork inside.
煎堆 ('jin dui') sesame seed balls, deep-fried hollow glutinous rice flour dough balls, commonly filled with lotus-seed paste (蓮蓉 'lin yong').
豆沙餅 ('dau saa beng') sweet red bean paste pastry.

Usually I simply go for one of the last five items listed (老婆餠 、蛋撻 、叉燒酥 、煎堆、豆沙餅). The kindly folks at Chinese Hospital have told me to watch my diet (I do, I do; food always looks so beautiful), so I've cut down on snackipoos and increased my vegetable intake, and, speaking of which, steamed broccoli is fit only for a snack while watching horror movies or mulching the yard, nothing else.

Yeah, no, there are no frikandellen or kroketten anywhere nearby, nor a decent berenklauw or bamischijf. As for herring, forget it.
One cannot have everything.

Alors, let's eat!

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


According to Supreme Huge Leader Donald Trump, next week we start deporting millions of illegal aliens. Many of whom we haven't captured yet. It's an example of dictatorial counting chickens before they're hatched, and the "great thinking" with which other countries are familiar.

The logistics are staggering. Every million people will take at least twenty thousand bus loads. Or nearly ten thousand cattle cars full, according to Wikipedia.

Supreme Huge Leader Donald Trump speaks of millions. Plural.

"... the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States."

Collection points. Transit stations. Holding pens.
Fully-staffed de-lousing facilities.

I'm not sure that the stalwart voters in Florida have considered all this yet, and the denizens of Texas may also have objections to being the natural venue for much of it, seeing as they are right next to the border.

Never-the-less, Republicans are already cheering.

So great a project must mean jobs!

For which they're qualified.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Pagoda vegetable, in English often called by its Latin name, Brassica rapa narinosa OR Brassica rapa rosularis, also 'Chinese flat cabbage', is available in Chinatown at grocers on Stockton Street.


The Cantonese name is 塔菜 ('taap choi'; "pagoda vegetable"), in Mandarin 塌棵菜 ("ta ke tsai"; "ruined tree-stump vegetable"). It's easy to cook, full of vitamin C, and excellent with pork or in Soup. White people sometimes eat it raw, because they have this thing.

Folks, even if human and animal waste has not been used as fertilizer in the fields, animals poo there. So consuming raw vegetables, despite a good rinse, is like eating off the bathroom floor.
I worry about you lot.


After lunch in C'town I purchased some bunches, along with Shanghai thin noodles made in HK, and some snow vegetable. The latter is something to keep on hand for pork dishes, and 雪菜肉絲湯 ('suet choi yiuk si tong'), a classic Shanghai noodle soup which is easy to make.
Going to try a version with tatsoi.


Other stuff. Lunch at the Regency, tea at the Hollywood. Smoked a pipe in between. And I can confirm that little Chinese girls are fascinated by pipes and pipesmokers, why, we're the queerest thing they've seen!

Of course it may have been the pipe. One of my father's old briars, a silver banded Peterson bent bulldog, to which some of his aura still adheres. Not only a handsome piece, but he was a darned fine looking man, so naturally they were enchanted by it. To the point of looking back ever so often, all the way to the end of the block.

Later, after tea, his Parker shell billiard. Same reaction. Three little girls.

I was always envious of my father's effect on the ladies.

Glossary: 蒜茸猪扒飯 ('suen yong chü paa faan'; pork chop with minced garlic and rice); 羅宋湯 ('lo sung tong'; Hong Kong style borscht, a tomato soup with veggies); 蒜吐司 ('suen tou si'; toasted garlic bread); 港式奶茶 ('gong sik naai cha'; Hong Kong milk tea made with sweetened condensed milk); 豆沙餅 ('dau saa beng': small flat pastry with a sweet adzuki bean paste filling); 愛·回家 ('oi wui gaa'; "Love come home", a Hong Kong sitcom often on the television at the lunch place when I get there after two, to which I don't really pay much attention); 赤靈芝 ('chik ling ji'; red hued ganoderma lucidum, a mushroom of curative and tonic effect, infomercials for which are also often on the telly); 林鄭月娥 ('lam jeng yuet ngo'; Carrie Lam, a politician in Hong Kong whose reputation has sunk lately, whose press conference was on the news while I finished my lunch.

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


Last week a nice little girl could not take her eyes off me. It was slightly disconcerting. Perhaps she was trying to figure out if, under my white guy pallor, I was actually a strange form of Cantonese person. Because I had spoken to the proprietress in what could only have been their language.
She and her mom were waiting for their take-out food.

This is something that isn't a rarity.

Cantonese tykes often find me a rather queer sort.

See, I'm obviously white. And I've got a beard (a small neat ellipsoid ring of hair around my mouth and chin). But unlike many definite monsters, I have no eccentric tattoos nor highly individualistic clothing.
And I try not to be loud and demanding.

It confuses them.

I too am confused. Almost every time I see people with tattoos, piercings, or peculiar clothing choices, I prepare myself to speak in another language, so that I don't get dragged into a conversation that I do not want. This is San Francisco, and it's a common enough risk that I deploy defenses.

"Your pipe reminds me of my father. Are you a Pisces?"

"Het spijt mij niet, edoch I heb geen zin om met u in gesprek te gaan." More or less 'not sorry, but I don't want to talk'. Polite, but in Dutch, so it's quite unintelligible. Can't do that in Hindi, because they might have gone to India to find themselves. Same for most any other languages I have any ability in. But Dutch is good. No one learns Dutch, even if they have gone to Amsterdam to find themselves.

See, the nice thing about children is that they aren't yet highly artistic totally unique self-realized "woke" individuals with tattoos and piercings that express something deep and spiritual. They're still people.

Little Cantonese people are usually surrounded by common sense adults.

Without visible evidence of artistic meaningfulness.

It's a different environment.

"Nei sik kwontungwaa?!?" [Do you speak Cantonese?]
"Sik. Ngo sik kwontungwaa." [Yes, I speak Cantonese.]
"Nei hai jung-gok yan?" [Are you Chinese?]
"M-hai." [No.]

How confusing! Let us ponder this anomaly a while. Then ask him something else.

And when you think about it, that is infinitely more rewarding than any conversation which includes questions about zodiac signs, their journey toward self-realization, or whether I have a cigarette.

I am not a Pisces.

FYI: Most Cantonese speakers, like most people who talk Dutch, are not Pisces. No, I do not know why this is so. It's a mystery.

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

Search This Blog


It was rather cold in the city yesterday. As you would expect. Kind of March/April-ish. Which reminded me of the time I came down with a hor...