Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Years ago, before I moved out of North Beach, I acquired the nickname 豆沙餅 ('dau saa bing'), after a comestible I often had at the counter with my hot beverage. It was of course easier to call me that than my real name (multiple consonants, where they should not be), or after the sunday breakfast I would often have there: pile of rice, sausage and fried egg, hash browns, and lots of hot sauce. Washed down with a bucket of Java.
They still had lunch counters in Chinatown then, but those have all disappeared. Dau saa bing are still around -- sweet bean paste biscuits -- as well as coffee crunch cake, lotus seed paste pastries, apple turnovers, and various baau. So not much has changed.

And I wish to clarify that "Sunday Breakfast" means sometime after two o'clock, when the lunch crowd had died down. Eight hours after having coffee and a nice smoke. Dawdling afterwards to devour the Sunday Chronicle, still worth reading in those days, and delaying a post-meal pipe because the two little kids there kept telling me "no smoke!".
Litte children are often either fascinated by briars, or consider them the instruments of evil, and these two were, as taught by their parents, convinced that I would go to hell in a short period of time if I persisted. Either an old-folks home or a cancer ward. Despite being younger than their father. Who did not smoke. Which I considered a failing on his part.

Delightful kids. But sometimes too disapproving.


Yeah, one can't really pop outside for a quick pipe, despite there being an alley nearby, because in pipe-smoking terms a short smoke (half a bowlful) will take thirty minutes. 
And you'll return reeking sootily of Latakia and Turkish leaf, with a silly grin on your face.

I haven't had rice-sausage-egg-hash browns-hot sauce in several years.
And I no longer swill coffee like it was mothers milk.
But I still have that pipe.


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