Friday, March 31, 2023

STEP AWAY FROM THE DEEP FRYER

If you came to this blog more than once you might have noticed that food is often mentioned, sometimes till you're full of it and wish dammit that I would write about other things. Food is a consuming passion. Not only for me, but for most Americans, judging by the entire aisle at Walgreens with acid indigestion remedies and stool-softeners. We don't get enough of it.
Our holidays MUST feature sumptuous buffets.
It's the law.

In the next aisle over: diet aids and dietary supplements.

Diabetes rates and bowel cancer are spiralling out of control. So is kidney failure. These are just coincidences that we'll blame on the Russians and the Cold War.

Since World War Two there's been a burger in every pot.

Americans no longer eat hog's head chili.

That's Depression Era food.

Poor folks chow.
As you can probably tell from this illustration I like food. And it is easier to write about, without offending every Tom, Dick, and Harry than very many other subjects, which got me in trouble years ago, and which because I like peace and quiet I now seldom opinionate about.


However, I am not a social eater. This is a matter of circumstance. At the computer company down the peninsula I was. And I would happily organize trips to the civilized world for eaties at lunch time. At the law offices and later the toy company it was a different matter. Instead of urban types curious about good stuff to eat there were a lot of suburban bumpkins there, and people doing credit and collections for a living tend toward solitary vices anyhow. These days I work in the suburbs again, Marin County, where everyone complacently chows down on chicken nuggets and donuts, and other than kale there's a lot of kibble orthodoxy.

Yummy, yummy kale. Nom nom nom.


Home-cooked food would be nice.

Laksa: Seafood and chicken soup with noodles. There are two general kinds of laksa: coconut curry type, or sour tamarind broth.

Either way, it should contain dried toasted ground dried shrimp, kemiri nuts pounded in the mortar and pestle, plus fresh seafood, shredded cooked chicken, and beansprouts. With both rice stick noodles and Hokkien noodles. A thin coconut soup, made with chicken broth, touch of shrimp paste (蝦膏 'haa gou'; pâté de crevette), and a little fried garlic. Adding a roasted tomato or two, skinned and chopped, and a pinch of sugar is good. A shortcut for the bumbu (home made spice paste) would be to use a spoonful yellow curry paste. Add a dash of fish sauce and a dash of a vinegar-based hot sauce. Also minced scallion or chives.

Shrimp, clams, fish chunks. Fish balls. And shredded chicken.
Many of these ingredients aren't available in Marin.
But kale is. Abundantly.


Plus there's tofu.
Of course.



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Thursday, March 30, 2023

VISITING SAN FRANCISCO

It has come to my attention that many visitors to our lovely city are upset at the smell of urine. Because where they come from, NOBODY pees. Possibly because many people there ate themselves into diabetes and their kidneys failed so that they need to go down to the clinic for dialysis three times a week. Also, they've never heard of dogs. Whatever the reason, no pee. Remarkably they also bitch about there being nowhere to pee here.

In fact, whenever I'm in the tourist zone of the city -- Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, and Fishermans Wharf -- the number of hick visitors hopping up and down and clenching is phenomenal. Which leads to only ONE conclusion: they can't read a damned map. Makes you wonder if they've ever figured out how General Sherman found a city to burn.
Maps. Quite revolutionary! Who da thunk!

Also, the signs reading "bathrooms for customers only", which are in simple English, are entirely impenetrable. Precisely like the sign at my cardiologists office which states "masks required", which the Russian family groups absolutely failed to comprehend, because having come from the Soviet Union they are out of practise as far as actually reading stuff, or even comprehending. For the visiting English speakers in Chinatown, the message "bathrooms for customers only" strongly suggests that IF you spend money in the restaurant, snacketarium, or beverage place, THEN your aunt Margaret can use the damned loo.

If you don't want to spend any money (which is hard to come by in Bupkes, Louisiana, or neighboring settlements, I know), then you can always go down to Portsmouth Square. Which is centrally located. There's a lovely urinary facility there.
Helpful schematic for tourists


Please note that it is two small city blocks away from the pyramid, opposite which there is a Starbucks, where you can also pee. Five blocks away from Union Square, where there are MANY opportunities to pee. In fact, there are bars, restaurants, and coffee shops all over the damned city, where in similar fashion YOU. CAN. PEE. If you are visiting from Europe, you are probably habitual alcoholics, and undoubtedly familiar with bars.

If you are Russian, you're probably S.O.L., because it would mean spending money. You folks don't do that. Sorry. Again, go to Portsmoputh Square. Расположенный в центре!



By the way: I know y'all don't wear masks where you come from. Probably the loops confuse you. There is no way I can do a schematic for that. It must remain a mystery (загадка).



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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

ARMAGEDDON BY WAY OF PIGS!

Altogether it was an excellent day. Yes, it rained too much. And indeed it was cold enough to freeze one's tootsies off, there were crazy people infesting Walgreens, also some of the individuals in my own neighborhood clearly need straight jackets, and too many overweight tourists from hellholes like Misspi and the Midwest, possibly Albamma or Flerodah. But none of those folks in the place where I had lunch, nor at the pharmacy where I picked up my refil of Metoprolol Succinate, possible side effect of which may include include fainting, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea, unusual dreams, trouble sleeping, depression, and vision problems, but are not limited to all of that. And none of which are relevant in my case.
Plus feelings, bad temper, and abdominal discomfort.


Well, except the unusual dreams. Can't remember what I woke up from this morning, but it was weird.

I'm okay with that. I live in a world which is already quite bizarre.


Where Canadian super pigs are a thing.
Fortunately, Canandian super pigs won't make it here for several years. Instead, we'll have to deal with death by tourist overload and dumbass visitors from the rest of the country (the aforementioned hellholes of the Midwest, Albamma, Flerodah, and Misspi), where there are such things as Christians, Ron De-buggery-Santis, and crazy gun or bible toting crackers.


Still. Super pigs. Possibly good eatin'.


You know, I don't mind the German tourists. They're an adventurous lot, and soldier on where lesser humans chicken out, or hide under the same awning where I'm sheltering with my pipe during a freezing downpour, which is unfair because I found it first and the whole purpose of travel is to learn things and suffer.



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AND THE STUPID HATS

Now let's see... they've banned books, excoriated and threatened medical personell, stocked up on assault weapons (as well as fictional manga hero knives and swords), legalized prayer in school as well as banned recognition of slavery, genocide, and the discriminatory practices wide-spread in their communities, persistently tried to overthrow democracy, and encouraged Christian repression of everyone else, as well as given support to dangerous conspiracy loons and people who openly admire both Hitler and brutal third world dictators.

Quote from a 70's teevee series: "Yankee liberties are destroying us!"

Plus there is police brutality and corruption there.


Tell me again why anyone should visit.


Personally, I see no reason to ever go anywhere outside of a few areas in the country, despite colourful festivals, interesting regional foods, and lutefisk. My friend Jonathan, deeply settled in the West Bank but originally from East Dingo, Arkansas or Tennesee (somewhere gawdawful, primitive, and filled with illiterates) keeps suggesting that "the real America" is filled with sweetness and light, but I'm convinced that he subconsciously admires murderous societies one step away from burning witches, books, and rainbows. He IS in the West Bank.
That's 'Dumbforkistan' with both 'Murricans, and Russian gangsters.
Basically it's Texas without the stupid hats.
Maybe they do have stupid hats there. Ten gallons and baseball.

From my vantage point in a civilized part of the world it sure looks like everything between Treasure Island and the Atlantic is trailer parks, meth labs, lynch mobs, and junkfood.
All fundamentalist Christians and Florida parents.


Republican bigots, crooks, rapists, and child abusers: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.


The "real" America is a horrible place filled with savages.
Upland New Guinea but with asfalt.



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WHY YOU WOKE UP IN THE FIRST PLACE

Among the restaurants in Chinatown where I have never been are three which cater rather particularly to white people with plenty of money. It isn't that their offerings are necessarily bad, but that I kind of sneer at such things. Also, I'm a cheapskate. It comes with being Dutch. As well as rather sensible. Why should I spend oompty ump dollars on a "tasting menu", when I already know what the culinary offerings are, and am not dining for exoticism or a mysterioso adventure I can tell my friends back in Wisconsin about? With pictures!

One of the best "Chinese" meals I had featured eels.

That was back in the Philippines.
Several years ago.


Can't do that on a tasting menu for well-heeled kwailo anyhow, the only ones likely to go for it would be Dutchmen and Flemings, and there just aren't very many of them floating around C'town. Not enough to keep a restaurant in business.

The eels at that restaurant in Binondo were incidental, not the main focus of the meal, but they were delicious. Pacific eel is larger than the ones available in countries bordering the North Sea, and can stand a bit more abuse in the pan.

In addition to gasping fish and sharp claw clackity crabs, one can find eel on Stockton Street. Chinese people are also fond of eels, like Netherlanders and Belgians, and understand that good things to eat may dismay many fastidious Anglos.

Such as a Fujianese oyster omelette.
蠔煎 O-CHIAN


A dozen large fresh oysters, shucked.
Two TBS rice flour.
One TBS cornflour.
Half a cup (eight TBS) water.
Three cloves garlic, minced.
Three eggs, beaten.
One TBS sherry or rice wine.
Generous pinch of ground white pepper.
Oil.

Rinse the oysters in cold water, making sure to remove all shell fragments, and pat dry. Beat the eggs with the white pepper sprinkled in. Mix cornflour and rice flour, pour in the water slowly while stirring to make a fairly thin batter. Gild the garlic in your skillet, add the rice wine to seethe, and remove to a small plate. Add more oil to the pan, and when it's hot, pour in the thin batter and cook briefly till half set before adding the beaten eggs. When the omelette is semi-firmed but still deliquescent, add the oysters and garlic, and loosen the omelette with a spatula. Cook a few seconds longer, and decant to a plate.

Make a sauce of a quarter cup ketchup, a quarter cup rice vinegar, a hefty dash of soy sauce, and a teaspoon cornstarch mixed with cold water. Whisk it all together in a saucepan over the fire till it has the proper consistency. Note that a colourful sauce is optional, and not strictly speaking necessary. I usually just add some ketjap manis and sambal.

The thin batter on the underside of the omelette is a textural thing.


In Taipei and Penang this is a midnight snack. Because there are no night markets in San Francisco, and the street food scene is primitive beyond belief, it would probably be much better as a breakfast here.



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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

WET WEATHER FOOD: MUI CHOI KAU YUK

Both of my food paintings today where of stuff the nutritionist down at Chinese Hospital, my regular care physician, both cardiologists, and several do-gooder berserk food nuts in Berkeley and Marin would consider unhealthy. Leastways not optimum.
The do-gooder berserkers would also consider them evil.

The first painting, featured in a post early this morning, was of a bacon cheeseburger. Personally I think the colours were lovely, and it looked nice and juicy.
Quite like the breakfast of champions.

The second painting, shown below, is of a beloved Hakka and Cantonese preparation.
Mui choi kau yiuk. Alternating layers of fat and lean.
Pork with preserved cabbage.
Comfort food.
The first time I had it was many years ago at a Hakka restaurant on Broadway which no longer exists, with two co-workers at from a hard drive company.
Neither of whom had goofy white-folks food hangups.

It was absolutely delicious.


Today would have been a perfect day to prepare it, except that I did not think of doing that until fairly late in the afternoon, after I decided not to leave the house for lunch because the weather is ghastly. Instead I fixed myself a very casual slop for over rice stick noodles.

Today was not a productive day. It was dark, gloomy, depressing, wet.

I'll head out to my usual restaurants tomorrow and Thursday. Have to do my grocery shopping in Chinatown and visit the pharmacy anyhow.



Mui choi kau yuk. Braised and steamed pork belly with dried mustard greens. Soak the dried vegetable for several hours, rinse well. Wash and parboil the hunk of meat with some thick sliced ginger, take it out and drain it. Fry in hot oil to colour and develop crusty edges, skin side first. Let it cool. Take it out and slice it thickly, arrange in a shallow bowl. Parch the mui choi with some of the grease and a splash of rice wine. Add sugar, slivered ginger, dark soy sauce, more rice wine, and one or two star anise. When good and bubbly spoon it over the meat. Put the bowl in the steamer at full boil for an hour and a half or so. Carefully lift out the bowl, place a big plate over it, and invert it so that the contents are on the plate with the mustard greens on the bottom, meat on top.

Serve with rice, other stuff, and sambal on the side.



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PROBABLY KIND OF TWEEDY

Five years ago I wrote about McClelland's red cake. No, not a disquisition about a famous desert made by a small tribe of Celtic Hobbits living in the hills of West Virginia, which is a marvelous area I have no inclination to ever visit, because it sounds exactly like 'Deliverance Country' and they probably play banjos there, but a tobacco that someone I have mercifully not seen in nearly five years was frantic to find. He was a remarkable cheapskate, refused to buy his smokeables locally, sneered at non-readers of the Wall Street Journal, and used McClelland's No. 5100 Red Cake in his own blend.

Other than his anti-social tendencies and nasty personal odour, he was an all-right guy.
I remember him fondly, like all pipe smokers who piss off-cigar freaks.
As well as his beer drinking habits.


There is something infinitely lovable about crusty old farts wearing tweed who growl at junior executives and stock traders, pinch pennies worse than my fellow Dutch, AND smoke a pipe.


There used to be many more of them. Back in the old days (before I was born), all educated American men aspired to that state. Their ideal life consisted of an easy chair in the spacious living room, a rug in front of that on which one girl child and one older boy child played with toy trucks, a dog, a cat, half a gold fish in a bowl, the trim young wife wearing a frilly apron in the kitchen preparing a nutritious tuna casserole from a recipe in a "womens magazine", and a brand new station wagon in the driveway of their palatial suburban mission style ranch single story dwelling, as was clearly visible through the huge picture window.

His feet were up on the ottoman, he wore tweed, and he smoked a pipe.

A few years later there was also a large teevee there.

By which time the rug had become shag.

At least, that is what the advertisements in many magazines of that age tell us, and in those times a good pipe, a carved marshbird painted semi-realistically, and a six pack of beer were essential for the tweed-coated gentlemen. This was years before crackling rosé ever became popular, and catalogues mentioned bell-bottoms, leisure suits, and paisley. A golden age.
And everywhere the sound of banjos ...

Anyhow. Back to the red cake. It was good stuff, and many pipe smokers liked it, especially hermits and crusty old men addicted to the phrase "back in my day ...". It's gone now, because McClelland hung up the towel.

That was five years ago. Since then a number of other companies have moved into the area left vacant, and produced some truly remarkable tobacco products to fill the void.
In particular, Sutliff and Cornell & Diehl.

[Description and reviews of most McClelland products here: Kansas City tobacco. Article about their closure (by Larry Wagner, from Tobacconist Magazine, May 1, 2018) reproduced here: End Of An Era.]


McClelland's 5100 Virginia was in fact a blending tobacco that Tad Gage used in Three Oaks, and probably Syrian Three Oaks, which sadly can no longer be had. There are still nearly two dozen tins of it in my bookshelves, and I'm holding on to it for dear life. Splendid tobacco. There's an article about Tad Gage on Smoking Pipes which comfirms that.
I have never met Tad Gage, but I've known him for years.
Whether he wears tweed or paisley is a mystery.
I believe he lives near banjos.
He has a dog.



TOBACCO INDEX


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REVOLTING PATIENT, UNREPENTANT

How wonderful it would be if, within a block or two of my cardiologists offices, there were a sumptuous grill room where one could get a delicious oozy bacon cheeseburger. I've seen the specialists twice this month -- one regular heart check-up to make sure I'm still alive, one consultation regarding a possible peripheral angioplasty of the lower extremities which we actually can postpone for quite a while (because there is no ulceration, and exercise will clear up the problem, mostly) -- and I've had burgers off and on my mind for weeks.

Nor is there a place like that close enough to the clinic where my regular care physician is located. Sometime in the next two or three months I'll need to have my regular yearly exam, which will include a stress test. Which involves running on a treadmill and swearing in tongues. Afterwards I could reward myself with something immensely unhealthy.

The baked porkchop on a bed of spaghetti then stuck under a broiler till the layer of cheese is melty and bubbles does not appeal. A better choice would be a thick slice of red-stewed five flower pork with salted plum vegetable covered with dark gravy on a bed of broad rice stick noodles with smoky Sichuan barbecue spices broiled all bubbly. To be augmented by squoodges of Sriracha as the diner (a Dutchman) sees fit.

Or, hypothetically, a double bacon cheesburger (sharp Cheddar) on a toasted bun.
Again, squoodges of Sriracha. Very important.
I think the bun should be buttered.
Before toasting.

[Note two things: 1) Sriracha is chili peppers. Which are a vegetable, and consequently healthy stuff. Think of it as the salad accompaniment to evey meal, especially if you're located in the suburbs, where good eating is difficult because of the bland middle class crap out there. 2) Considering that American bread is usually soft spongy poof garbage, a search must be made for a good baker who can provide firm buns. Possibly it is best to melt butter on the grill to brown them.]



There should also be a smoking lounge with strong milk tea and coffee beverages nearby.
So that one could sit and digest the unhealthy feast. What the hell is wrong with this city that grizzled survivors of urban living who are still alive (and still quite lean, which is remarkable) can't once or twice after medical appointments or picking up refills (I need more Metoprolol Succ Er 25 Mg) indulge themselves in things medical people should never hear about? And you'll have to admit; right after an appointment or check-ups would be totally ideal, as test results and blood samples would show the before picture, not the after.

This morning I'll drop by the clinic to request more pills. Then head over to a chachanteng and eat something moderately healthy. Sometime in the next two weeks I'll do something different and more dangerous.


Maybe a torchon of foie gras and some grilled duck breast.
With a few perfect slices of bacon on the side.

Followed by a pipe filled with aged Virginia and Perique.
Plus a big cup of strong HK milk tea.
Sounds like breakfast.



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Monday, March 27, 2023

MMM, BACON CHEESEBURGERS!

As was to be expected I got to my appointment with the second cardiologist for discusions of a potential peripheral angiloplasty on the lower extremities early. Nearly two hours early.
I severely over-estimated how long it would take to get there. So I walked around for a bit with a pipe in my mouth, confident that the smell of tobacco would no longer cling to me by the time I saw the doctor. In which I was right.

We had a lovely discussion, and I now have confidence that we can postpone this procedure for two or three years and possibly considerably longer. The key to staving it off is exercise and good clean habits. Seeing as I walk a lot (like many smokers in this day and age, who cannot vegetate in their easy chairs with a pipe or cheroot going for several hours at a time), and do not scarf down bacon cheeseburgers hand over fist like there is no tomorrow, I think we're positive on both counts.

He did hand me some informational material, part of which mentioned aneurisms, which are just one of the things that can go wrong with the cardiovascular system.

It was instructive. Fortunately to the best of my knowledge at this present time that ain't a factor in my future.
But it did directly lead to this illustration, which I've entitled "Thing Go Boom".


I never gave much thought to aneurisms before. Now I just can't get delicious oozy bacon cheeseburgers out of my mind. Especially because while I was snarfing down delightful dumplings (白菜豬肉水餃 'baak choi chyu yiuk seui gaau') in Chinatown afterward I saw two tourists from out-of-state leaving the restaurant, and between the two of them I think they weighed nearly six times me. Where they come from, bacon cheese burgers are probably standard breakfast lunch and dinner fare.

Washed down with a delicious strawberry lard whizzo-drink.



I'm probably judging the rest of the country wrong, but I do get the impression that they eat too much, dress funny, and smell bad there. High fat junkfood, no vegetables, and bourbon chasers.

I am so glad I do not live there.




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GOOD LUCK WITH THE GARBAGE BURGERS

Six years ago, after the election of Trump, various individuals took issue with some of the things I wrote, at which point I decided that they could go intercourse themselves and their community, and I stopped participating in their games. Periodically I am reminded of this, which in a way is quite cheering. Not giving a damn is good for mental equalibrium.

Even the saner members of that community have largely avoided contact for several years now, so it's been a win-win all around.


It turns out that I can be perfectly content not actually being an active member of any group, and function perfectly well not being social, involved, or concerned.

In principle I sort of like human society, in practice it leaves a lot to be desired, and I do not have an urge to work on improving it.

However, I do note with considerable schadenfreude that the people who objected to my scribblings years ago are now even more tightly constipated.
Think of me as occasionally taking a look inside, then giggling cheerfully over the scenes of chaos I see, for a brief moment, before resuming my own twirling elsewhere and wiping them and that from my mind.


The flock of nasty birds raided someone else's scrumptious junkfood lunch tray, not mine, and while there is justifiable outrage and angry gesticulation, it ain't my funpark ride and that isn't my inner tube.




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Sunday, March 26, 2023

MEASURED IN FEET

Oh boy! Medical appointment tomorrow! And discussions of something normal and well-within the purview of a typical Dutch American, such as I often pretend to be! Specifically, a future peripheral angioplasty of the lower extremities! Soon! After being at work for a few days I need normal conversation.

[Peripheral angioplasty of the lower extremities: First give the Dutch American on the table drugs to keep him from twitching, then make an incision and snake a miniture roto-rooter fitted out with a little balloon down into the legs, and twiddle at the right moments to inflate the little balloon and widen the channel, and after the procedure is done send him upstairs to eventually wake up. And, because drugs were involved, keep him overnight. During which time he'll lay awake all night because there apparently is a demented woman in the room next door, moaning theatrically because she is distressed at her surroundings and she doesn't want to be there. A one person Greek chorus to the bloodshed in the Serengeti on the nature channel late at night. She was still doing that at six in the morning when the nurse came around with my coffee and asked if I felt capable of leaving. Oh boy did I ever. Couldn't wait to get the heck out. No, no need to keep me another day, it was quite lovely, thank you very much!]


It did not help that in my function of emergency father confessor I got to listen to senile old farts praising the ex-president, or other senile old farts waxing ecstatic over sports. Or one particular senile old fart going on and on about the banking crisis. While actually farting.
And thank you for punctuating your paragraphs, dude.
Very creative of you.

Or, and this doesn't happen very often, a Cantonese American apartment mate describing Ching Ming observances at the graveyard. During which it was windy enough that setting fire to stuff was nearly impossible. And cold enough that her nose ran severely. And accidentally ending up with a soggy bottom.

While I was lying down resting my feet which hurt and ached immensely.

As middle-aged Dutch American feet will do, especially after being at work for several days, because there are circulatory issues which may necessitate a peripheral angioplasty of the lower extremeties, such as might, hypothetically, be discussed under more normal circumstances, on Monday afternoon during a medical appointment.

And, speaking of feet, the turkey vulture wishes to have his feetsies massaged.
The turkey vulture's feetsies are clearly visible in the photo. Do they look like they actually NEED soothing attention to you? They look perfectly hale and hearty to me. And my feet hurt. They've been at work for a few days, and they've been tormented by senile old farts praising Trump or having fits of drooling ecstasy over sports. They've also listened to the adventures of someone performing all the necessary rituals of Ching Ming down at the graveyard because it's that time of year again. My feet are not perky like his.


They have experienced life. They have suffered.
They're having an existential crisis.

My feet observe the world with anguish and jaundice.
Life,they seem to say, is hard sometimes.
And the floor is concrete.
Also, cold.



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DEEP STATE WASTES OPPORTUNITY

For a brief shining moment this afternoon we could have bombed Waco entirely off the map with no conceivable downside. And we should have done so.
Nuked them into a bubly sheet of glass.
Unfortunately, we didn't.

A statuesque black lesbian transgender liberal such as myself would have liked that. Dammit, I should have telephoned the Global Free Masons in Washington!


Like many commie pinko atheists, I dream of a better world. And a world without that deranged orange turd, Marjorie Taylor Green, Matt Gaetz, and Ted Nugent, and fifteen thousand of my worst fellow Americans, may they rot in hell rather than just Texas, would have been ideal. And, echoing a headline on Microsoft Start, it would have been like the number one bacterial vag treatment - no smell, discharge, itching!
The country would have been better for it.


NO SMELL, DISCHARGE, OR ITCHING!


Quoting America's 'Hometown newspaper', “Time and time again, Trump has been unhinged, vindicative and self-defeating; Trump is not going to make America a better place”.

Just think! No smell, discharge, or itching!
It would have been so lovely.
Sad.



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Friday, March 24, 2023

CHANGE IS GOOD

Tea yesterday afternoon was lovely. I went to a place where I had not been in a while. The owner, who is from Hong Kong, was glad to see me again. Which is a change from the usual place, where sometimes it seems like nobody gives a damn'. Yes, no biscuits, nor any flaky pastries -- that isn't what they do -- but a quieter more welcoming environment without the antique peasant types from the old village grumping and grumbling.
And I didn't feel as if my existence was unjustified.

Stronger better milk tea too.

It had turned cold by the time I got there. It was colder afterwards. The streets were emptier, people hurrying home before twilight. There was a slight bitter wind.
Walked over to Pacific to see where New Wing Lung has moved to. It's further up, and past Stockton Street. A bigger location, where a dim sum restaurant used to be many years ago, followed more recently by an office for one of the Chinatown health organizations. Dried fish, general groceries, and canned goods. Some connection, I'm not sure what, with the grocery store I often shop at which has everything. Which is near their old place.


Milk tea, dried fish, condiments, chil pastes. All the essentials.
Really, what else could you possibly need?


No auras of menace.
And no scowls.



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Thursday, March 23, 2023

YES OR NO, YES OR NO, YES OR NO!

Shou Zi Chew (周受資 'jau sau ji'; chief executive of TikTok) should have remembered that scene in A Taxing Woman, where the protagonist is told to never ever go into a meeting with gangsters when you're outnumbered. If from this you deduce that I consider the Republican Party to be a bunch of sleazy thugs I shall not disabuse you of that thought.

Yes, there are also Democratic lawmakers in the mob. Rank opportunists in sheeps clothing.
Historically, many have them have been blatant dinos in any case.

A retired loudmouth from New York comes to mind.


And it looks like China and Chinese bashing is bi-partisan. Which tells you exactly what the next election season is going to be like.


By the way: I have considerably more respect for Shou Zi Chew than I do for most members of congress and almost all Republican politicians, many of whom would be better suited to digging ditches and committing mortuary rape than their present roles. The fact that these repulsive un-educated savages were elected to represent us says a lot.
Good lord. Lauren Boebert. Marjorie Taylor Green. Ted Cruz. George Santos. Kevin McCarthy. Jim Jordan. Ron DeSantis. Gregg Abbott. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.


At least that dingbat Kari Lake didn't get elected.


You are all the My Pillow guy.



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A BIT OF IRE

If San Francisco really gave a damn about Chinatown they would work on job creation and re-training of the workers there, so that there would be more money flowing into the core businesses that serve the community. Rather than prettifying up the alleyways and encouraging the damned tourists to buy trinkets and nosh there.
Or worrying about the damned awnings.

Since the destruction of the garment industry and other manufacturing sectors in the city there has been increasing poverty in the neighborhood, and the tourist industry provably prefers to hire folks from elsewhere to service the big white blobs who visit.

Employ local people. Dammit.


"There are some politicians out there who are like: 'Let me get in a photo with some Asian people. Let me walk through Chinatown, shake hands with a few Asian community leaders and that’s it. I got the Asian vote!'
No. You actually need to be in tune with what this demographic needs.
"

------ Forrest Liu, community advocate, San Francisco.


Jobs. Training programmes. Decent housing that's affordable. Educational opportunities for the local kids that do not involve sitting in overcrowded classrooms with a bunch of thug jugend and juvenile delinquents. But the first thing is jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.

Money earned by local people is plowed back into the local economy.


That implies more than just encouragement to sell electric red sweet 'n sour pork to blobbos from Ohio. Who disparage everything here and ignore the poverty because they're on vacation, and there are tall buildings they can 'ooh' at.

The only businesses that are thriving in what our tourist and visitor agencies trumpet as San Francisco's most colourful neighborhood (and fat lot of good that does) are, besides sweet 'n sour pork palaces, the banks, employment agencies and translator services, and hair salons.
Plus grocery stores. And old folks homes and health services.
Places that cater to people who need those.
And bus in for it.

Here's a lovely picture of sweet 'n sour pork.
Please notice the electric hues.
Print it out for Ohio.
Colourful!



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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

HOW TO FEED A DUTCH SPEAKER

In a city like San Francisco the person with a Dutchman or Fleming within can find plenty of things to satisfy the inner man. Especially the gustatorily inclinded inner man. Dutchman, or Fleming. Probably not the typical Mid-Westerner, because they prefer bland, burgers, and no seafood or spices whatsoever. But the inner Dutchman type knows his kinsmen pillaged the world for flavouring material -- cloves, nutmeg, pepper, Chinese ingredients -- and the inner Fleming type knows how to employ those things. The inner Mid-Westerner prefers church suppers and lutefisk. Being unamginative and Lutheran in his inclinations.
Poor whiny underfed bastard.

Oh, and by the way: their college football teams suck.


Let's not mention those dimwits who founded Holland, Michigan, and established a Calvinist Theological Seminary there, INSTEAD of a culinary academy. They were defective.

Go'verdomme en nakende nondeju. Stelletje malloten.


Please note that in the Fujian style seafood soup noodles illustrated below (閩式海鮮湯麵 'man sik hoi sin tong min') there are plenty of clams (蜆 'hin'). This is pretty much my own innovation, as Fujianese are fonder of oysters and shrimp. But one works with what is available at the market.
Besides, while I acknowledge the fondness many coastal Chinese have for shrimp, I myself prefer the bolder saveur of shellfish, though oysters are too much trouble. So mussels and clams are my preference. This dish is slightly similar to lo mi (滷麵 'lou min') with the pork and soy egg left out. As well as the garlic. It's made slightly glossy and thick by the addition of corn starch. Let the seafood and the gilded shallot ginger base speak for themselves. Chicken stock, white pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking sherry or rice wine.

Garnish with chives, chopped scallion, parsley, or cilantro.
Or fried crispy shallot slivers.
All optional.


Okay, most Dutch and Belgians seldom if ever use chopsticks. Which is odd.
Instead, everything comes with crusty bread, and fries.
Especially shellfish.



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SIT DOWN, AH YEE!

The street outside my house still looks like a disaster zone. Wrecked bus shelter, lengths of tree trunk waiting for a truck, leaves and branches everywhere. And further up, a tree lying on its side waiting for final rites. The overhead lines for the busses are down for three or four blocks, and traffic is not allowed on my block as well as two others. According to the internet, what happened was a bomb cylone. Which is a term I never heard before last night.

Lots of elderly Cantonese take this bus line down to Chinatown everyday; I doubt that they're hiking over the hill on foot. Even at a snail's pace.

Except, probably, auntie with the pistacchio-coloured sunhat (開心果色嘅帽 'hoi sam gwo se ge mou' ). Who, starting at the very beginning of the pandemic lockdown three years ago, assiduously kept in shape and increased her stamina by trudging up and down the block, eventually ranging further and further afield. I suspect that she is well capable of skipping across Nob without even breaking a sweat now.

Naturally I found an altenate bus route. Past one or two downed trees on cross streets. Which is where the title of this essay came from. Because I insisted that an old lady sit (阿姨,你坐你坐。'a yi, nei cho nei cho'). To which her response was that there was no need for such courtesy (唔使客氣,吖,我唔坐。'm sai hak hei', 'ah', 'ngo m cho' ), which prompted me to thought-cloud without a sound "siddown, dammit". Your typical middle-aged Dutch American bachelor is strongly of the opinion that a little old lady a foot shorter than myself and twice my age should bloody well sit down before we hit the next pothole, okay?! I insist upon it! But of course it was pointless to argue, as over the years I've learned that elderly Cantonese women are kind of like bomb cyclones. Don't waste time opposing them.

And far be it from me to stand in the way of an unmovable object.
Enjoyed a pipe after lunch at a familiar place, staffed by Cantonese women. None of them elderly. So no man the barricades batten down the hatches stubborness evident, though it's probably hiding just under the surface.
Both my downstairs neighbor and a gentleman across the street are married to Cantonese women, and my apartment mate is also Cantonese, so eventually I'll be surrounded by that rock hard obduracy. We Dutch ourselves are known for a certain amount of muleheadedness, so it will be just like old school week.

Just ask my former regular care physician about his attempts to make me quit smoking. He was Fujianese from Sumatra, so entirely unprepared for a blankly defiant yet infinitely courteous absolute refusal to even consider the proposition. I always tried to soften the blow by leading the subject onto Indonesian and Malay food, which is the great overlapping interest of both Netherlanders and Peranakan Chinese.

He now knows how to stirfry kangkong with shrimp paste and chilisauce, plus garlic and a dash of rice wine. Sort of in the manner of the long-settled community in Penang.
Which is very good information to have.
He came out ahead.


Ninety percent plus of the staf I have dealt with at Chinese Hospital are Cantonese women. Surely he had encountered rigid stubborness before then? Maybe he didn't realize what was going on? Perhaps he blanked out the memory.

In any case, he's gone back to school and is no longer there.
Likely there was a reason for that.



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THE WEATHER IS BETTER ELSEWHERE

According to a well-placed source, I am a "nasty old scunge". Primarily because I have repeatedly ignored the Turkey-vulture Bill of Rights, and neglected my obligations to give him regular feetsie-rubbies and let him eat the occasional small creature. He is saddened by my blithe disregard of the proprieties. I'll offer him a chockie to distract him. Because I have no wish to stroke his feetsies, and small creatures, whether visitor or resident, are not to be gobbled up under any circumstances. As the head roomie, Ms. Bruin, agrees.

There is presently a despondent turkey vulture sitting in the other room.
He is sulky, because he has been severely spoken to again.
And I have failed to support him in this.
I am, he avers, defective.

Yeah, look little dude, there's no way I'm touching your nasty feetsies. And I am a nasty YOUNG scunge (whatever that is), if you please. I am not old!

I am being laughed at by several small critters.
Discretely behind furry paws.


Last night the weather outside was fit for neither man nor beast. And, with the bus line that runs past the building out of commision because two trees fell over in the wind, smashing up three parked cars, wiping out the bus shelter, and dragging down the overhead lines, as well as blocking the entire street and the sidewalk opposite, public transit necessarily had to be re-routed. I was not going to walk over several blocks in cold wet weather to find a possible alternate route to Chinatown, so I called the bookseller and told him sorry but next week.

Instead, I spent the evening contemplating the concept of claypot ginger chicken.
If this were Guangzhou, Hong Kong, or Kuala Lumpur, the bus line would not be down, and fresh claypot ginger chicken would be readily available mere minutes away. Which would be perfect in last night's weather, except that they would not have such weather. Low eightes, mid seventies, and low nineties, respectively. And only slightly rainy, all three.
Though there will be a downpour for an hour or so in KL.

Singapore: high eighties, scant rain.

The same recipe can be modified with the addition of sliced black mushroom, and, if you're a Dutch American scunge in San Francisco, some chopped bacon frazzled at the bottom of the clay pot before dumping in the partially cooked chicken chunks (stir once or twice, add sherry and soy sauce to sizzle after a good fire). That same D. A. scunge would probably have also added some chili paste and sherry (or rice wine) to the mixture earlier, and the judicious use of Indonesian style sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) speaks to me.


Young Dutch American Scunge cooking; it's a concept.
I'm surprised no one has discovered it yet!



It was cold and wet all of February in Jakarta (around eighty degrees). They probably ate tonnes of ginger-rich food during that time. Warming, and comforting. Both qualities much needed during continuous inclement weather. Also, chilipaste.
Sambal goes with everything.



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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

FIRST DAY OF SPRING? HOO HAH!

Turns out my timing is just right. Left the house in between rain, got my blood drawn in record time -- no wait for a woman with a needle, over in seconds -- hiked on over to a branch of my bank, and headed to lunch at a chachanteng while it was not really coming down. Had my first coffee between the hospital and the bank. And the day seemed much brighter and warmer in consequence.

Had lunch while it clattered down later, got home before it cloudbursted with mighty winds.
Finished smoking my pipe at home while making tea.

One particularly bright spot was showing the needle-wielding lady at the hospital the effects of Raynaud's Syndrome. Dull blue fingers. It startled her. I always get a kick out of waggling blue fingers at someone new.

[Raynauds: First started happening in cold weather after the office moved to the new building, so it's been going on for well over a decade now. If the temperature is below 57° Fahrenheit, the blood circulation in my finger tips shuts off. Much colder and it's alll the way up to the hand. Purely temporary, but the visuals are startling.]


People like me thoroughly appreciate those hot air hand dryers which some places have, like the bathrooms down at the hospital. I wish I was there now. The temperature has dropped since lunch time, and my fingers hurt again.

It's also darker and gloomier.

Every week there are moments when I think that there is light at the end of the tunnel, Spring is in sight, surely it will be warmer soon and the rainy weather will be over, and then every week Greta Thunberg flies overhead and replenishes the reservoirs. And the storm drains. And the supply of fallen trees. Drowning small furry things in the process, and creating millions of dollars of damage.

At present, the bus stop down the block is out of service. Two huge old trees down, three cars crushed, bus shelter totalled. Rather a pity. It's highly likely that I'll be hearing power saws all evening because the entire street is blocked until the debris and huge chunks of concrete plus the timber are all cleared.

Good thing I got out and got in when I did. Things will be different tomorrow.
All in all, that was an excellent pipe smoke though.
Aged red Virginias.




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Monday, March 20, 2023

MY LOWER EXTREMITIES

Tomorrow morning I need to leave the house early for blood tests at the hospital, preparatory to seeing Dr. Xxxx next week for consultations which will lead to a peripheral angioplasty on my legs. Which means no coffee in the morning, darnit. No breakfast either, but for some of us old bachelors coffee IS breakfast. Well, the first pipe of the day too, but smoking a pipe in the morning should have no effects on the lipids etcetera.

So I'll have a smoke on the way over, or immediately afterwards. Whatever.

With that as a prospect, I made sure to have a good lunch today.

Mid-afternoon, Vietnamese Chinese restaurant.

Grilled fatty pork. And rice.

Plus hot sauce.

Had a nice bowl afterwards in a sandblasted briar which is nearly fifty years old, from back in the day when everyone smoked and doctors in all branches of medicine (including cardiology) prefered the smooth rich taste of Camels to any other cigarette.
A Turkish and domestic blend. Fine tobacco.
Getting up early on a day off, when it is cold and rainy, is a distasteful prospect. I might want to go back to bed immediately afterward, and forego a cup of coffee nearby, unless I need to pee in a cup, which will absolutely require coffee. As well as a good forty five minutes for the effect on the bladder of a hot cuppa to take effect.

Someone in their twenties could probably tinkle anywhere anytime, no pre-prep required. For any forty year old plus person, as I am, that is a dubious concept. We've spent years holding it in rather than whizzing in public like today's young men are wont to do.


Just take a walk downtown. There's twenty something fellows leaking everywhere.
In coffee shops, on their cell phones, waiting for an Uber.
While buying and selling hi-tech stocks.
No self control, tell ya what.
Damned yuppies!



I hate this weather, especially in the morning. It's uncomfortable this time of year. Windy, cold, rainy, and intensely miserable making. I shall need a teddy bear.

Do you have one I could borrow?



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A TRUE WARRIOR

Years ago there was a street person who would sit on the Kearny Street steps, who had four utterances. "Hey man, gimme a quarter." "Go get me a burger." "Buy me a bottle of Ripple". "Got a cigarette?" It was a simple existence, funded largely by the public. Old, out of it, arthritic, with his rent actually paid by one of the city or federal agencies.

Don't ask for details, but I know that the ceiling of his abode was covered in flies.

I cannot remember if he ever changed his clothes, but he did drop his pants accidentally once or twice. This was well before Fox News regularly trashed San Francisco for being "woke". Before the country took care of its old people and bused them to drag shows or Donald Trump rallies to hoot and jeer and soil their seats.

I'm sure the neighborhood fondly misses him.

He represented class
One day social services finally became aware of this semi-ambulatory public health hazard scaring the public and disturbing the peace, and shipped him off. He is probably a model citizen now, somewhere in Florida, kind of overweight, garbed in an American flag sweatsuit, driving around on a personal mobility scooter with 'don't tread on me' decals and 'vaccines kill' stickers, getting ready to riot tomorrow when Donald Trump is arrested.

I'm looking forward to seeing him on the news.




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