Monday, October 12, 2020


During the morning I found an opened tin of Chocolate Flake by Samuel Gawith in the big pile of books near my favourite chair. Paraphrasing the internet: "Chocolate Flake is a luxury blend of Virginias, burley and long-leaf latakias. To complete the luxury a rich, dark chocolate has been added after cutting. Excellent quality with good smoke and a delicious room note. Medium strength." End paraphrasis.
The few remaining sheets were on the dry side, and consequently there was no discernible whiff of chocolate. Which is a good thing. Perfumed tobaccos aren't my bag -- as I tend very much to howl in outrage when diseased sickos light up crap like that -- and Samuel Gawith had a light touch with this one. Unlike their Celtic Talisman, which was manufactured strictly for the American market and is quite disqusting, or Firedance Flake, which has so much bizarro fragrance added that it is almost completely unsmokable.

In this, the cocoa was only a slight nuance even when the tin was freshly opened. Burley and Latakia were both supplemented by it, but it wasn't by any means a hammer over the head.

An earthy note, more than anything else.

Delicate and English, rather than brutal and American.

Too subtle for the great fictional British detectives; miss Marple probably likes rum-drenched rope or pineapple vanilla plum cavendish, Sherlock Holmes would hot box this till his mouth was raw, then claim that it was flavourless. Monsieur Poirot might say that Ennerdale Flake (soapy and degenerate) was just the ticket; all proper Belgians huff such stuff.

[Yes, Poirot is English, despite his assertions to the contrary.]

Maigret, however, would happily puff this. Ignoring the allegation of chocolate, because, after all, you smoke a pipe because you smoke a pipe, not because you have a sweet tooth. And a mere allegation is all that it is, once the tobacco has dried out sufficiently that it can be smoked (many manaufacturers package their products too moist, so that they survive a sea voyage and transit across barren continents, plus several months on the shelves of a barracks provisionary in Boxwallahbagh; Samuel Gawith is exemplary in this regard).

This tin is more well-travelled in recent times than I am. It was sealed in Kendall, Cumbria, in the north of England near the border with Haggisstan, trucked to the docks in Bristol, crated with odd lots into a shipping container, then several weeks later lifted onto a freighter for the long trip across the pond to the New World, eventually ending up in a warehouse of a Chicago company, then a jobber's cavern, a United Parcel Service truck, several pitstops in between including a centralized freight airport, down bumpy dirt roads and potholed city streets, and finally the lower shelves of a tobacco shop on the West Coast. For something that's small enough to fit in a coat pocket, that's one hell of a ride.

Can't remember when I bought it, but I opened it eight months ago, and packed it with me several times tromping the blasted heath of Nob Hill during the rainy season.

It has endured. A wizened veteran among the smoke weeds.
The blasted heath of Nob Hill

It would be perfect with a cup of strong coffee, but the other person, who hates tobacco and has a neurosis about apartmental cleanliness, is home today. So coffee first, then smoke.

Dammit, this place reeks of Pinesol.
She's on a cleaning frenzy.


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