Friday, July 31, 2020


He was going on vacation with his girlfriend, off to London for nearly two weeks. In preparation for which he left me a generous purse for the household expenses, and three orders for while he was away. Make sure there is coffee when I come back. Make sure that there is toilet paper.
Don't burn the house down.

Shortly after the car had disappeared from sight I was raiding his desk in the upstairs living room, because I knew where his pipes were. Oh boy.

Some of the household moneys were indeed spent on coffee and toilet paper. Some of it on food (and I ate a lot of sautéed mushrooms that fortnight). And some of it -- more than I normally would have spent from my allowance -- went for tins of Balkan Sobranie pipe tobacco.
For the next several days I was high as a kite on coffee, filled to the gills on mushrooms, and happily puffing good tobacco in excellent pipes.

About as dissolute and self-indulgent as a non-alcoholic teenager with no romantic involvements can be. Read a lot, bicycled a lot, smoked a lot, stayed by myself a lot. I had a wonderful time.

So did my father.

One of his pipes that I "borrowed" was a Peterson System Standard, such as the shape illustated below.

It was my first exposure to the type. I liked it. A lot.

A few months later, when I was sent back to the United States for school, I purchased my own. A slightly different shape. Which I smoked in the student lounge, at a deli on Market near the Embacadero, and at the Caffe Mediterraneum on Telegraph Avenue while "studying".
These are all places where smoking is no longer permitted.

That one I eventually got rid of, likewise the same shape with a gorgeous grain which I had while living on Piedmont Avenue.
Since then I've acquire two more briars of that shape. I've finally faced the fact that while Peterson System Standards are in a way quite pedestrian, I really like them; they look so 'pipe like'.

The last time I visited my Dad before he passed away I bought one at the tobacconist in Woensel, which is unusual because you seldom see sandblasted Peterson Systems on this side of the Atlantic.

The graphic effect above was achieved by drawing the light and shade using the crayon feature of the Paint programme, several different hues, then reducing the drawing for a life like effect.

Spray paint, oil brush, and water colour brush are also useful.
As in the creamy exemplar below.

A few years ago, a friend got rid of some pipes he did not smoke anymore because they were too small. He'd graduated toward big briars, and full Latakia mixtures instead of Virginia Flakes. I have some of his "discards". The meerschaum above and the 314 below.

Here is another one of his pipes.

[The three pipes above (the meerschaum, the 314, and the 305) were often what I smoked in the evenings during the two years when I desperately needed medical attention but had no coverage. During that period I became increasingly ill, often nearly passing out after walking only a few blocks. Frequent excruciating head-aches as well.
In the three months before my insurance kicked in I did not know if I would survive long enough; it was a bit of gamble. But apparently I survived. A coronary stent was put in exactly one month after I stumbled into the clinic. And I'm taking pills. So I'm good for several more years. Thank you, San Francisco Chinese Hospital.]

All three of these pipes are excellent smokes.

Peterson pipes have been around for well-over a century, both pleasing smokers and pissing them off. It's a crapshoot.  Their quality control has at times been "iffy", and they've experimented irresponsibly with weird lacquers and varnishes that are hard to remove, yet bubble and blister.

Evenso, some of their products are considered classics.

Especially their full bent pipes.

And special series items.

I particularly remember smoking the Rathbone above with Mac Baren's Virginia Flake while exiled around the corner from the group with whom I was having coffee. For the benefit of the non-smokers.

Well, anti-smokers. Tobacco nazis.

Nowadays I seldom hang out with tobacco-hating types. They aren't very mellow, and they tend toward mental rigidities in other ways.
Or off-kilter belief systems. Largely not a very flexible bunch.
But I have several Peterson pipes of which I'm very fond.
And I know a fair number of smoke-tolerant people.

One of the remarkable things about many anti-smokers is that they drink too much and are, frequently,  unapologetic pot-heads.
Almost as if they've got problems.
Psychological damage.


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Thursday, July 30, 2020


It is with awe that I read that gentlemen used to go for a canter early in the morning to get their blood flowing, and that doing so was considered not only good exercise but also beneficial to the digestion, plus preparing them for the heat of the day and a full work schedule. Obviously that was a different time and place.

By cantering is meant riding their horse around the forest and the fore jungle. Which, to my semi-sedentary mind, sounds perfectly ghastly.

Those same gentlemen started on port wine and gin-pahits at around three in the afternoon, and were quite blotto by tea time.

That too was considered normal and natural.

Nowadays many of my habits, though firmly rooted in the past, are considered peculiar and rather eccentric.

I'm usually out of the house with a pipe before eight o'clock (7:30 today), taking a constitutional around the neighborhood. Breakfast consists of coffee, and a bleary scoping of the news. No solid food, and above all no buggery cereals. Then walk and smoke. At around ten or eleven maybe a cookie, or at work a pastry. Bacon and eggs, if they are eaten at all, go into the main meal sometime during the middle of the afternoon.
It will be followed by strong tea.

A late lunch is the most important meal of the day. There will be sambal (hot chili condiments), maybe chutneys, and, during my days off, rice or noodles.

Getting blotto is a Northern European habit, and also very common here in North America. Like breakfast, it is best avoided. The last few times when I visited Holland I did have breakfasts, because it was expected of guests.
But I wasn't quite vested in the process. Fortunately cocktails were not included at the hotel in Amsterdam.

Because lets face it, Northern Europeans commonly drink like fish.
From Galway to Minsk, alcoholism is common.
Which leads to bad food choices,

You'll be glad to know that even though I am an abstemious fellow, I am still quite capable of making bad food choices. I do not need liquor to be an idiot. Bean chips. Pickled chilies. Two servings of ice cream.

What the hell was in those bean chips anyway?

Vegs and sambal, also a bad idea.

I have regrets.

In retrospect, I should not have been casually snacking while reading news articles on the internet yesterday evening (weird Texan medicine), as what I ate so abstractedly had a negative influence on my sleep last night.
Dreams in which I was pursued by horned beetles.
And a giant scaly cockroach.

The pipe pictured above, which I smoked during my walk this morning, was acquired during a trip back to the Netherlands, when I saw my father for the last time. It means a lot to me.

I am somewhat recovered now.


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Regarding Parsee cookery, which I mentioned a few times recently, a dear friend and correspondent rebuked me sharply as follows: "the Chhota Peg is still nowhere to be seen in your writings. Not even a fleeting mention. You disappoint me. Oh, and by the bloody way, we don’t, not ever, “dump” our sali on the boti - we sprinkle it - lovingly, tenderly, and evenly, on those delicious, succulent botis." Well okay then. A chhota peg is a half measure of Scotch whisky, rarely rum or gin. A small peg. Maybe with soda pani or regular water added. It is for all the times after tea, when daddy-ji has returned from the daftar khanna or prasasanik kendre, tired and takit, and needs to relax. Or mummy-ji. Whoever works administratively. It is also a sacred ritual. And one might have several chhota pegs before retiring.

The soldiery would drink a rum peg every morning with lime and quinine, which was thought to prevent malaria. But for the higher castes, pegs, whether bara or chhota, were whisky, mostly afternoon, mostly male prerogative.

My mother would have me fix her a genever chhota peg before dinner to ease her pains during the last few years of her life. And for me, a chhota peg is a small shot of Scotch, with very little water, and no ice cubes.

Which of course I cannot have. Because of medical reasons.

Chhota peg: greatest British contribution to India.

Parsees would be poorer without it.

Yesterday evening, my apartment mate went full Aspergers, analyzing what sex with daemons would entail. Both the mechanics of it, and the chromosomes involved. Pursuant Trump's current favourite doctor, who is batshit crazy. She then speculated wildly and at length about fundy Christians and mental instability among the faithful, plus their ridiculous theology, and lizard aliens within the body of the church. That church. Seemingly for hours. I could have used a chhota peg at that moment.

Sadly, there wasn't a drop of single malt in the house.

I was a captive, and couldn't go out and get it.

By the time I was free the store was shut.

Thank you, Doctor Daemon Sperm.

"As I looked into his innocent green eyes I knew that my womanly presence was arousing his taut testicles: that with every little gasping breath they vibrated against each other, firm and plump beneath his starched trousers. And he blushed as he knew that I knew."
------ Genevieve Cogman

"Cassandra woke up to the rays of the sun streaming through the slats on her blinds, cascading over her naked chest. She stretched, her breasts lifting with her arms as she greeted the sun. She rolled out of bed and put on a shirt, her nipples prominently showing through the thin fabric. She breasted boobily to the stairs, and titted downwards."
------ Unknown Internet Genius

The two lyrical texts above are examples of literary smut. The top one shows what would happen if women wrote about sex the same way men did, the bottom one is male smut writing spoofed. Both of them are almost Shakespearean in their beauty, neither one of them are glandularly stimulating. They are not meant to be.

Personally, I find recipes and food descriptions far more interesting.
But I realize that I'm in the minority on this.
If you're reading here, you too.

Over the years I've said an inordinate amount about food, mentioned Scotch and Irish whisky several times, and been a total Asperger about pipes and tobacco. Besides some political opinions and sneering at Christianity. That will continue. Aside from speculating that Doctor Stella Emmanuel desperately needs some daemon sex, and that if there weren't so many reptile space aliens in the Trump cabinet, that would be the perfect source, and a solution to her psychological problems.

Now, should I start the day with tea, coffee, or a peg?
I think I'll have a smoke before I decide.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020


In the same way that Dutch people use serundeng as a necessary garnish for several spicy dishes, the Parsees use thin potato matchsticks fried crisp. Along with eggs, these are almost a definition of Parsee cuisine. The best way to prepare them is deepfrying in an electric fryer, draining and salting them immediately once they come out of the hot oil. They keep in a sealed container, cool dry place, for about ten days.

Parsees dump these on mutton curries, keema, chicken, and even eggs (sali per eedu). Famously, jordaloo boti (a hearty and tangy mutton dish with dried apricots) seems incomplete without sali, though that is not customary. And this would be perfect for cold winters in Brabant (where there are a large number of Dutchmen, and virtually no Parsees).
The most typical dish would be sali boti.


Fry a goodly amount of chopped onion in plenty of oil, add ginger and garlic when it starts to turn golden. Drain off the excess oil, keep frying the onion garlic ginger. Add red chili powder, then turmeric. Chopped chilies shortly after, salt and a small splash water. Add chunked mutton gosht and, and when the oil comes out, throw in several chopped tomatoes (peeled), some red chili paste, and two or three whole green chilies. Simmer for an hour or so, adding water as necessary to keep it very slightly soupy.
Then add ground cumin and garam masala.
Cook only a little while longer.

Then serve with potato straws (sali) on top.
A goodly handful. Both texture and taste.

Or French fries, if you're Dutch.

The spice proportions are three parts red chili powder, two parts ground coriander seed, one part each turmeric and cumin. Garam masala, depending on the recipe you use at home, is a variable quantity; one or two teaspoons should suffice. These are fairly standard proportions that can be used for many dishes, by the way.

For one pound mutton, use two large onions chopped.

Oh, and the quantity of turmeric is variable too.
But only slightly, as it can dominate.

An authentic cook would add a few green cardamom pods at the same time as the chili powder or turmeric, and both the whole green chilies (for aroma) and red chili paste (sambal ulek) are my own thing. Star anise also, maybe a half teaspoon toasted ground poppy seeds (why?), and a bay leaf or two. And a half stick cinnamon, which in the United States might be impossible, because real cinnamon is hardly available here; we tend to have cassia instead. It's not the same.

Jordaloo boti is similar, but with about half a dozen dried apricots added halfway through, for both their flavour and to swell in the pan moisture.
Less or no tomato. As well as a splash vinegar, hefty pinch sugar.

Jordaloo, of course, means apricot. Old Persian, Gujarati, and Marathi. Not, strictly speaking, an Indian ingredient, though they grow in Kashmir.
Sali is Gujarati for straw.

All of this is pursuant a previous post, in which I mentioned that I had a very marked fondness for curry, milk tea, and smoking my pipe afterwards. And it will naturally be remembered that India's most famous military man, Field Marshall Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw (born 3 April 1914 – died 27 June 2008) was a pipe smoker, and known for his opinion that you should never entirely trust a man who neither smokes nor drinks.
He was a Parsee, and by accident of birth, a Punjabi.
A fortuitous and splendid combination.
An exemplary man.

"He who neither drinks nor smokes, nor dances; he who preaches and even occassionally practices piety, temperance, and celibacy, is generally a saint, or a mahatma, or more likely a humbug, but he won't make a leader or for that matter a good soldier."

"If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gurkha."

------Sam Manekshaw

Now, the astute reader will likely be wondering, what the heck do Dutchmen and Brabant have to do with any of this? Well, I'm a Dutchman from North Brabant. And I like my tea, tobacco, food, and drink, though nowadays I avoid alcohol entirely due to my medication.

No idea what I'll prepare for lunch. It will include chilies and some spices. It will probably not be "heart healthy" at all ("greasy"), and together with the pipe afterward it would displease my regular care physician, per whose orders I saw the nutritionist at the hospital last year. Who then advised me to take "baby steps": cut down on the cookies and sweets.
So none of that later with my tea.

No Scotch in nearly two years.

No one said anything about mutton, ghee, or potatoes.
And my doctor is Indonesian-born Chinese.
So spicy foods are all-right.


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The fog started rolling in by six o'clock, and the top of Nob Hill was grey and invisible within an hour. Lafayette Heights in the other direction looked bleak and wild, while from Polk Street the sounds of jollification were audible. There were drinks and eaties out in front of several places.
The cocktail hour lasts till eight.

Clay, Jackson, and Washington Streets were almost deserted.
It was, in fact, perfect Autumn weather.
At the end of July.

Here's a bright idea: San Francisco should celebrate Hallowe'en a few months early. After all, we're all wearing masks (I hope), and this weather prevents unseemly nudity, unlike the situation at the end of October, when the exhibitionists come out of the woodwork.
Little children will love it.

Sadly, SF exhibitionists fear tobacco smoke.

Unlike the indoors people in July.

You know, I bet there's tonnes of exhibitionism inside these days. One of the neighbors on the opposite side of the street was visible, in the buff from the waist up. I do not know if he was wearing anything downwards, that could not be seen.

Keep your popcorn warm and crisp, ladies, there might be a show.

I didn't stick around to find out.

This morning it was quieter, but still as foggy. Also perfect Autumnal weather. Slightly more people than dogs out. Same amount of poo.

White people sleep late nowadays. Cantonese folks are up much earlier, and full of piss and vinegar by the time of the first pipe of the day.

Both pipes shown were given to me by Martin T.  when he 
was paring down his collection. They're good smokes, 
but he prefers much larger pipes nowadays.

During Hallowe'en in San Francisco, most of the extroverts (exhibitionists) are Caucasians, and I always enjoyed observing the little Cantonese kiddies trick or treating, who looked terrified. "Good lord, these people are freaks!
I wanna go home!

It's been ages since I saw anyone en-déshabillé.

Or anyone saw me in that state.

World, be grateful.

My ex is Canto, locally born. What she saw in me was, apparently, red hot Dutch American sex appeal, which I had no idea was a thing. And seeing as I've been single for years now, I may be correct in that assumption.
While she may have been mistaken.

[We don't speak the same version of Cantonese, in case you were wondering, but have always spoken English together. Hers is Toisanese, mine is movie-learned Hong Kong thug, with book-learned bits. English is her first language.]

Certainly a scrawny fellow who prefers indulging in curry, milk-tea, and smoking a pipe, is not a hot property on the dating scene. I wish I knew what the dating scene actually was, seeing as even when I was in my twenties I didn't have a clue. I've heard it involves jogging regularly, getting drunk at singles bars, and late night pizza.

If anyone now imagines a lovely curry dinner and a hot cup of tea with a naked pipe smoker, please be advised that I will not accept any responsibility for that.

If you pursue that dream, accidents could happen!

Heck, it's almost guaranteed.


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Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Having viewed a video in which a doctor from Texas asserts that there is a cure for the covid virus, and reading further that she also states that masks are unnecessary, and sex with daemons and witches causes infertility as well as gynecological issues, I am appalled.

She left out one key datum. Sex with goats cures covid. Lots of sex with goats. Go on, Republicans, make the goats happy.

See, it's the enzymes in goat seminal fluid.

An easily accessed cure, no fail.

Men, women, children.

All part of a democratic plot to vaccinate Americans with a substance that takes away the Jesus instead. But goats are natural, no chemicals.

Trump tried to tell you.

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Yesterday evening, while enjoying a post-tea time pipe, I noticed that one of the local bars is booming again. Earlier I had seen an announcement from one of my friends, a bartender there, that they now have a permit to serve bar nibbles and small dishes "to go", during the wait for which you can enjoy a drinkie at the tables on the sidewalk and out in the bicycle zone. Which apparently came as a blessing to many people; the tables were crowded. Much like choir practice at that church up in Washington State, where there was that early cluster. And while it's one of my favourite saloons, with generous pours and a witty clientele, all I could think of was that it would probably increase the spread of Covid. Which I have been assured by several people is a commie liberal plot, doesn't actually exist, is just like the flu, and will assuredly disappear after the first week of November.

There was little or no social distancing over cocktails.
Naturally I stayed well away from the place.

As you can tell I like that bar. They made accommodations for smokers years ago -- it is in fact where I got into a conversation with a petite lesbian several years back despite her significant other looking daggers at me, the smell of my pipe reminded her of her dad, and I took more risks when I was younger -- and a likable fellow Dutch-speaker used to work there. At present one of the best bartenders in the city is on staff, and cheerfully gets the customers totally squiffy. But I do not drink anymore (alcohol and my medications are not a good combo), and even before I wasn't a social butterfly. When people say stupid things in bars it's difficult to rationally and dispassionately explain to them how and why they're an idiot.

Which is often obvious anyway; they're watching sports.
All drinking holes have televisions.

And you might get clobbered by an angry significant other.
Well, nasty threatening looks at least.
I am a fragile man.

The tobacco that reminded the young lady of her father was Founder's Reserve, "Blended at the Malthouse" by Dan Tobacco. Which is allegedly topped with single malt whisky, but it's a "whisky" that appeals to slutty young men in Marketing and Sales, looking for a sugar daddy.
Which I am recognizably not at all.

More like the world's worst Dutch Uncle.
Stern disapproving advice.
Though bent.

"He's not good enough for you. Yes, he's loaded to the gills, but look at those weak lips, and that vulgar shirt.
He'll be a fat slob within a year of you moving in.

Young man, flirt with a Doctor or a Dentist.
At least you'll get health care.
That's important.

And avoid that one there. He's probably diseased.
I saw him with a Persian boy last week.
Trust me, a total whore.

I'm just as bad when it comes to advising the female gender. "Sweetheart, that blouse looks really nice on you". Meaning that I can see the lace straps underneath. "You should smoke a short perfecto". Meaning A) don't smoke cigarettes, those are for sailors and elderly aunts, and B) you would look totally hot, just like the lady city council member back in the Netherlands who could out-argue the dumbasses from the Labour Party (PvdA) as well as the inbred morons in the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).
Or that communista I wanted to date in high school.
Jayzus. Stunning. And brilliant.
La belle Marxiste.

This morning when I stepped out for a pipe it was still very cold, and the tops of the hills were fogged in. So there were few other people about.
A person with reality problems stumbled past, muttering to himself. Also a dog walker, watching her pet relieve himself against a hydrant. Plus 'auntie with the pistachio ice cream hued hat', and 'grumpy uncle'.
And my landlord, getting a newspaper.

It was a very peaceful walk. With an old-fashioned fragrance.

The tobacco might remind you of your dad.

Anyway. From up the block I could see my apartment mate leaving for work. At present, the door to her bedroom is firmly shut, her teddy bear is on the other side, sternly lecturing the stuffed turkey vulture about wanting to eat the imaginary little girl hamster who visits during the day ("we do NOT eat our friends!"), and I am ensconced in the teevee room with a pipe and my second cup of coffee.

It's time to read about Parsees cooking on Facebook.
Delicious things. Fish, mutton, eggs.
Dhansakias at table.


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One of the things I learned a while back was to not say too much in certain Facebook groups. Reason being that not everyone reads with the same mental dexterity, and some members of certain groups can be amazingly dim. And, of course, one does not know everything about them necessary to maintain one's sense of security.
Or, of course, one's own safety.

Years ago a fellow blogger got all bent out of shape over one of my remarks. He and I have not communicated since then.

And I can still remember a serving member of The Royal Netherlands Air Force (military) being a complete blistering moron.
Shan't mention what FB group that was in, but I'd vote him most likely to commit familial mayhem.

Probably because of his very tiny penis, and anger issues.

Sometimes not everyone is on the same page.

Here in the United States, a significant percentage of people, though not a majority, have moist panties over Trump. As well as pick-up trucks, automatic rifles, big titties, and Jayzis.

They're an unstable lot, as too many internet videos make clear.

I'm glad they're too stupid to figure out bupkes.

These folks are no Sherlocks.

Tiny rightwing wads.

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Monday, July 27, 2020


Over the weekend and into today, food has been a frequent subject of discussion. Is it time for a burrito? Do you also put Sriracha on your snackcrackers? Plus Indonesian food (see this recent food post and this older essay), Parsee cookery (a picture of a pickle inside pink cotton candy), and herring.

Groene haring (green herring): Fresh caught herring, gutted but with the pancreas left in, lightly salted (and per current Dutch laws frozen for one to two days to kill any possible nematodes), then thawed and served in it's uncooked state. The pancreatic enzymes tenderize it and make it easier to digest. As such, the high fat content of the first year herring (a little virgin, in Dutch a "maatje") makes it yummy. American tourists often look at it with extreme distrust, and ask if there are any bacon cheeseburgers nearby.

Note that by Japanese standards, it's too "cured" for sashimi, and also far too fatty.

Willem Beukelszoon invented it in the thirteen hundreds. Because of that development, the fleet could stay at see for weeks, instead of having to return to port every evening. Which meant that ship building technology improved, boats got larger and deeper, and were eventually used for long distance trade and waging war against commercial rivals. This would lead, inevitably, to the best navy at the time, the successful attack on the Spanish silver fleet off Cuba (Admiral Piet Hein), and the sinking of the English fleet deep upriver by Admiral Michiel De Ruyter (the raid on the Medway). Oh, plus kicking the Portuguese out of Formosa, and various other far eastern adventures.Or, to put it differently, it made us the best assholes we could possibly ever be. It's the fundament of our nearly successful attempts to destroy the English, French, Spanish, and those hosebags in Scandinavia. The less said about "Surströmming", the better.
It's a mental health issue.

Plus a brief conversation with a Karen to clarify that there is no marijuana in a pot-sticker, and that isn't false advertising.

All of this serves as a preamble to lunch, that being pot-stickers, grilled sausage, mustard greens (sambal goreng daun sawi), and a cookie (as the starch). I picked up the pot-stickers in Chinatown after visiting the hospital pharmacy for my refills.

I would have smoked a pipe there, but it was too windy.
The pipe pictured above was in my coat pocket.
I'll load it up for after enjoying tea.

Wally Frank was a tobacconist with a mail-order business ages before the internet. The pictured pipe was probably acquired that way. Squat bulldogs are a shape I like, so when I found it being offered for sale as a second-hand item, I picked it up to examine it, and, as one does, twisted the stem to remove it. And so breaking it. There was a small tag attached, which said specifically not to do that. The previous occupant had glued the stem in place. And because he or she had never used pipecleaners, it was also blocked beyond the tenon. So I bought it, took it home, carved a new stem, cleaned up the mucky draft hole and reamed the gunk out of the bowl, then sent it off for a band to strengthen the shank where there was a crack.
That was nearly ten years ago.
It's a decent smoke.

The burrito was specifically lunch two days ago. Carnitas, no beans, extra cheese and extra salsa picante. From which I had a little acid indigestion afterwards (and frequent heartburn is a side effect of one of my medications anyway), which will by no means stop me having another big fat burrito exactly like it soon.

The dill pickle on a stick covered in cotton candy is peripheral to Parsee cooking, and was mentioned by a Parsee. It is NOT Parsee food. Parsees are keen gourmands, as anyone who has read the lovely food columns by Behram Contractor ("Busybee") will know. And while there is an actual parsee cuisine, they'll happily explore other foods and the specialties of the people with whom they come in contact.
Often adding their own twists.

[Try Parsee Fried Chicken: Notorious Fantasies.]

A Parsee mango relish recipe:

Green mango relish.

One pound small green mangoes (not squishy ripe mangoes).
Half a pound jaggery (palm sugar in big chunks).
A fragment of stick cinnamon.
Chopped onion (about a quarter; it's optional).
Two green cardamom pods.
Two whole cloves.
Water - two to four tablespoons.

Break jaggery apart, put in an enamel saucepan with water, the cardamom, and the cloves. Plus the onion, if you wish. 
Cook till the jaggery dissolves.

Peel, cut, and de-seed the mangoes. Note that very nicely green mangoes will have a tender seed and the flesh will not have become all fibrous around it. Nor will juice and pulp cascade over your hands at this stage of unripeness, and the flesh is firm and fragrant, pleasingly tart.

Add the sliced mango to the jaggery water, and simmer till the mango has softened and the liquid has become stroppy. 
Serve alongside dhansak.

I doubt that any Parsees in their right minds would eat a cotton-candified dill pickle, though. That's the kind of thing that only waddilly poddilly Texan fattaboolas might consume.

Snack crackers are infinitely improved by the addition of sambal.
Just try it, and you'll agree with me.

And also mango pickle.
Aam ka achar.


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I am a very negative man. And not at all subtle.
It's a failing of which I am proud.
I dislike much.

This has irritated a good friend in Israel, who like very many people there is a patriotic American. And probably eats mac 'n' cheese.

He's from somewhere in Deliverance.

Also, I do not like New York pizza, rap music, marijuana, American beer (Budweiser, Coors, Heineken, Lone Star, Michelob, Miller, Olde English 800, Pabst, Rolling Rock), popcorn, or the Grateful Dead.

Popcorn is almost as bad as Kraft cheese.
What is it with you people?

Person, woman, man camera, TV.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020


As some of you know I have to put up with cigar aficionados during my working days. Which can be stressful. Not because of the smoke -- what with myself being a pipe-smoker who occasionally dabbles in the dark side, or gets his toesies wet in the shallow-minded end of the pool when the cigar huffing yutzes have not peed too much in the water and muddied it -- and I rather enjoy being able to smoke indoors at work, because this is the coldest July I've experienced, but instead because those boys have some pretty berserk ideas, and tend toward deliberate rightwing alphaholery and iggerunce.

Still. There are moments. Sometimes there is a break in the monotonous droning of their slope-browed conversation. A breather from their regular gibbering. Which is refreshing.

Somebody talking about a cigar he was recommending to another person, who ab initio was not planning to switch brands: "it's like anal-sex with Jesus".

Which paints quite a picture does it ever oh my yes. Heavens to Betsy.
If one were to try the cigar after that, one could not ever give any feedback. Neither "yes, it's precisely like that", or "no, it's nothing at all like you said". All that you can say once you've smoked it is "yeah, decent, I guess".
It's ... okay.

"You really gotta try this cigar! You'll be surprised"

I've actually smoked the cigar in question. If that's how A.S. with J.C. is, count me the hell out. It may be heresy to say this, but I'm not enthused.
It ain't my bag. Sorry.

It isn't because I'm a bigoted -- some of my very dear and best friends are of Middle-Eastern origin -- but NO cigar is that good.

Pipe tobacco or chocolate, maybe.


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The country as we know it has several areas with pretty unique qualities, and this vast melting pot represents humanity at its finest. Although there is also cheese. Some perfectly horrid cheese.

Here's a map stolen from the internet.

Along with our national bird.

Now, are there any questions?

The cheese is really bad.

Person, woman, man camera, TV.

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Saturday, July 25, 2020


Charming. From Wikipedia: "Tarantula hawks belong to any of the many species in the genera Pepsis and Hemipepsis. They are one of the largest parasitoid wasps, using their sting to paralyze their prey before dragging it to a brood nest as living food; a single egg is laid on the prey, hatching to a larva which eats the still-living prey."
End cite.

Further from Wikipedia: "Tarantula hawk wasps are relatively docile and rarely sting without provocation. However, the sting -- particularly that of P. grossa -- is among the most painful of all insects, though the intense pain only lasts about five minutes. [CUT] Aside from the possibility of triggering an allergic reaction, the sting is not dangerous and does not require medical attention. Local redness appears in most cases after the pain, and lasts for up to a week."
End cite.

It's the official state bird of New Mexico.

Very few creatures eat them.

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Like many dutch speakers I enjoy Indonesian food, and often cook in that style for my own consumption. Most of us accept Indonesian cuisine as part of our cultural inheritance or baggage, and think no more of it than that we're glad we have it, otherwise we would be eating nothing but bread, potatoes, speculaas, and herring.
Which, if you've seen Dutch still-lives from the golden age at the museum, is clearly what the Dutch diet centuries ago used to be.
Plus beer, pastries, and cheese.
More or less.

A few days ago I remarked to a retired Indies diplomat that one of the things I missed most about the Netherlands when I returned to the States was Indonesian food. No, not ryst tafel. Sambal and fish sauce.

Ryst tafel is one of those things we usually look at askance. It's just too much, like the American all-you-can-eat buffet. An embarrassment of riches, so to speak. A more modest version does not have thirty or forty dishes, just four or five, and makes a lot more sense. But if you're eating by yourself, just the basics: white rice, a sambal goreng (stirfried stuff with chilipaste and this and that), a slowly stewed or simmered dish, maybe soup and salad (green mango + trassi), and drinks.
Sambal on the side.
No beer.

The ryst tafel is colonialist excess.

Like much of the history of the Netherlands involvement with the rest of the world, it's a badly muddled mess (and it should be noted that the United States involvement with Indonesia is also crap).

It still all boils down to sambal and fish sauce, which, thanks to our Vietnamese American fellow citizens, are now widely available.

Along with other necessities.

Other important ingredients are coconut milk and flesh,coriander and turmeric, galangal, lemon grass, garlic, ginger, peanuts, basil leaf, and tamarind. Plus sugar. A purist would also include kemiri, kenari, and kluwak, but strictly speaking those aren't essential.

[Kemiri: Candlenuts (aleurites moluccana). Kenari: Pili nuts, Moluccan almond (canarium ovatum). Kluwak: Football fruit seeds (pangium edule).]

Now, an anally retentive and neurotic Dutchman, as we all are, would naturally consider nice crockery and porcelain as crucial, even more, than the flavouring ingredients and prepared dishes. Because how it looks as part of a cozy and inviting still-life-like table load is exceedingly important.

Which may explain my collection of ceramics. Somewhat.

My apartment mate, a Cantonese American person who tolerates many of my peculiarities, patiently endures my neuroses, and has forbidden me to smoke indoors because it might make her teddy bear smell like fire (ms. Bruin lives in her room), is not entirely on board with that. Chinese people are often more casual about these things than the Dutch, and consequently some of the kitchen bowls betray a less than pristine warehouse fresh condition. Which I do not think she sees. My collection of fine crockery is carefully stacked and stashed, and very rarely used.

Mostly, I simply gloat over having it.

A sixteenth century Amsterdam merchant would understand this. Though preferring austerely flamboyant Ming blue and white over California art pottery and earthenware (celadons, blues and greens, Hsin-chuen Lin, Spangler, Bauer, Pacific Clay, et mult altres).


It's a very simple process. Take cooked or raw ingredients cut to a suitable size, stir-fry them with chilipaste, then seethe them with tamarind, lime juice, fish sauce, and cooking stock or water. Cook further until glazed and no longer wet. Garlic and ginger can be used advantageously, as with Cantonese cooking, as well as soy sauce or oyster sauce. Sugar can be added too for a somewhat more Thai or Javanese approach. Often the main vegetable component is paired with onion or chopped meats in the pan. Sambal means hot chilipaste condiments. Here used as a slightly dominant component. If you like hot, simply add more sambal to your own plate.

A good Dutch Indonesian meal for one or two people is a mild chicken curry, a small serving of sambal goreng (chopped long beans or bitter melon, for instance), a saucer of plain sambal on the side, and, typically, serundeng to add textural excitement. Plus a simple broth soup without overmuch flotsam added, that includes tamarind or lime juice for sourness.
Everything to accompany a plate of plain rice.
Or maybe just a dish of bami goreng.
And chopped cucumbers.

Followed by a cup of coffee and a cigarillo.


Crispy coconut and onion garnish

One cup dry grated coconut.
One finely slivered shallot.
Two TBS. lime juice.
One TBS. amber fish sauce.
One Tsp. sugar.
A few drops Louisiana hotsauce.
Pinches ground coriander and turmeric.

Mix it all together well. Let stand an hour or two. Spread thinly on an oiled baking tray, and roast it for two hours at slightly below 300 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, decant it to a skillet and toast it golden brown afterwards by hand. Keeps for a few weeks.

NOTE: Sriracha hot sauce is an excellent sambal.

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Friday, July 24, 2020


One of the things that invades my consciousness is the awareness that, as a society, we've rather made a pig's breakfast of things. Somehow we've raised an entire generation -- several generations -- of dumb asses.
Which should not be surprising. Science and the scientific method are too difficult for America's little children, even mathematics is seemingly traumatizing, literature is supposed to be uplifting and not challenge them, and history classes must show them how good we are and how this is the best of all possible countries.

All of that is complete bollocks.

As anyone who has dealt with a Christian or Suburbanite knows.

Plus, of course, there are conspiracy theories and a whole system of beliefs about spirituality, natural healing, organic foods, space aliens, psychic powers, and other optional add-ons to the basic programme.

How sad that chewing, procreation, and sleep are instinctive skills.
Along with the eliminative functions.

Evenso, the self-praescription aisles at Walgreens prove that many people are quite incapable of mastering these four things.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020


One of the seminal events in every young person's early adulthood is going off to college and experiencing responsibility and the weight of the world upon one's shoulders. As well as, perhaps existential angst and fevered sexuality. It makes for a heady mix. This blogger never suffered from existential angst. And the less said about the last item the better.

Another seminal event, possibly the deciding one, is purchasing one's first Peterson System Standard.

Such as shape 307, the most pipe-like shape they have.

There now. Doesn't that look more pipe-like than any other piece of smoking equipment? Could it be any more pipe? Most pipes go up to ten, but these go up to eleven. It's one more pipish.
It's very special.

If Nigel Tufnel had a brain, this is what he would smoke.

When I returned to the States for college, one of the first things I did was buy one of these things, at the pipe counter in Woolworths on Powell and Market Streets. And I was very happy with it.
Regularly filled it with Drucquer's Royal Ransome (a full Latakia blend), and enjoyed it immensely. I no longer have that pipe, nor the perfectly grained and exceptional one of the exact same shape that followed.

[At the time, I could've bought a pet hamster too; those were also sold at Woolworths. But I wasn't thinking.]

But presently I own two 307's, and six other Peterson System Standards.
Every young man or women should aspire to such a pipe.
One of them I haven't smoked.

[Hamsters are small burrito-shaped rodents native to the Levant. Sadly, they are not filled with carnitas.]

A bent apple, shape 303.

The reason I have abstained is that shortly after I acquired it, I realized it would look much better with a woman smoking it. It has a rounder, softer shape, very elegant, and truly excellent grain, but I cannot get that lovely image out of my mind.

Unfortunately women are more likely to want a hamster, OR a burrito, but they'd look much more professorial with a pipe.

Peterson makes excellent pipes, but the tobacco under their name, while well made, is, largely, unsmokable.

ARAN: vanilla and floral perfume. CONNEMARA BLACK: cherry black Cavendish. CONNOISSEUR'S CHOICE: tropical fruits, vanilla, and booze. De LUXE MIXTURE: aromatic nut liqueur, vanilla, honey. FOUNDER'S CHOICE: rum, mango, vanilla. GOLD BLEND: hickory nuts, vanilla, cinnamon. IRISH DEW: vanilla, blossoms, chocolate, whiskey. LUXURY BLEND: black Cavendish vanilla and honey. NUTTY CUT: macadamia nuts, coconut, rum. SHERLOCK HOLMES: assorted stone fruits and citrus. SUNSET BREEZE: Amaretto liqueur. SWEET KILLARNEY: sweet caramel cream.
Sweet holy Jesus.

Ma'am, perhaps you should smoke something made by Samuel Gawith in England instead. Best Brown Flake is good, Saint James Flake is pure and wonderful but a bit hard to light for some reason, and Golden Glow is absolutely perfect for someone with a sunny personality.
These tobaccos are the real thing.

That other stuff is for alcoholic tossers and Americans.

The more I think about it, the more the image of a serious woman trying to choose between her pet hamster, fine flake in her pipe, or a burrito with carnitas and zesty condiments, appeals to me.

An intelligent and sensible woman would likely indulge in all three.
In the proper order, of course. First pet the hamster, then have the burrito (perhaps with a little saucer of sambal, fish sauce, and pickled chilies), then afterwards sit down to enjoy the pipe. Maybe with a book.

Fish sauce is the natural compliment to pork.
It would go wonderfully with carnitas.


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The mom march in Portland started at nine PM. So far it is peaceful. Huge crowd of mature adults. There is a lot of grey hair visible.

The wall of moms and dads have arrived at the Federal Courthouse.
9:28 PM.

Just how close is the relationship between Chad wolf and Erik Prince?

Just noticed a San Franciscan whom I know from Encore on the feed elsewhere. She questions some bullshit from Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.

The mayor speaks. That means the teargas won't come for a while.
10:10 PM.

Mayor ted Wheeler pledged to stay during tonight's protest. This could prove interesting if the Federales unleash the stuff that they used last night.

Ted Wheeler and Black protest leaders on the Justice Center steps.
10:24 PM.

Rumours that the "Federales" are Blackhawk mercenaries.

Sounds like teargas grenades being fired.
10:42 PM.

Fire started. Federales warn crowd.
10:51 PM.

Time for the snackvan.
10:52 PM.

Fires between the fence and the JC.
11:04 PM.

Flash bangs and smoke everywhere.
11:22 PM.

And the teargas has started.
11:24 PM

Federales fired teargas directly at a reporter.

Mayor Ted Wheeler gassed by the Federales. Confirmed. Several sources. Feds now declare a riot.
11:37 PM.

Federales getting ready to engage crowd. Protestors have gotten through the fence.

Teargas and flashbangs, lots of smoke.
11:49 PM.

Mayor Ted Wheeler gassed again. Badly.
11:50 PM.

Imperial March playing while Federales fire blindly.
How ... appropriate.
11:59 PM.

Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Massive volleys at the JC. Federales shooting flashbangs, teargas, and rubber bullets.

Reports of an armed provocateur.
12:07 AM

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020


Obviously our government ordered the consulate in Houston to close for their own safety, seeing as Texas is filled with racist rightwing rednecks who might create an international incident. But that highlights, in a way, why the vehicle with Texan plates parked outside on my street should be either torched or smashed. As well as any suspicious unmarked white vans that might be slowly cruising through the neighborhood.
Because unmarked white vans, as everyone knows, spread diseases, teargas, flashbangs, and heavily armed and camouflaged asshats.
And that Texan car brought a carpetbagger.
Probably a criminal.

Last night I watched riot-police tactics in Portland for an hour, which was mostly harmless, cat-and-mouse, except that the cats were all wearing boogaloo clothing while horking up their hairballs.

No, nobody threw cans of Goya garbanzos.

Trump didn't come out with a bible.

The sad thing is that once you leave Portland, there's several hundred miles of KKK before you hit civilization again. Oregon was created expressly as a white people paradise perfect for Texans and today's Fox News viewers. They still wipe their asses with Sears Roebuck catalogue pages there.

Almost everything between the Oakland Hills and the East River is Oregonistan and Texas. Guns, trailerparks, Nascar, and Goya Foods.
Plus Waffle House, White Castle, and Chic-Fil-A.
Mat Gaetz, Mitch McConnell, Larry Hogan.
Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson.

Or Indiana. Where everybody knows a Klansman, or is related to people who used to belong. During the late twenties, nearly a third of all "native born white men" in Indiana were part of the Klan, as well as most of the State Assembly and the governor, and most elected officials.
Nowadays, they solidly vote Republican there.

Pence hails from Indiana.


As a Dutch-American and a Californian, I don't have to like most of my "fellow Americans". The rot started when all those alcoholic religious deviants and criminal psychopaths came over from the British Isles.
That, more than anything else, made syphilis a fact of life.

The reason why Charlie Manson, an immigrant from the Midwest and a Scientologist, spent most of his life in California, is because he was incarcerated here. Otherwise he could have run for office.
Somewhere else in the United States.

Children Of The Corn.

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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...