It’s Not the Chilli, Stupid!

Overheard a chef talking about his favorite food on the radio yesterday.

People assume that chefs know what is good food so it is only natural that people are curious to find out where they go to eat.

So there was this chef – I detest that word, to be honest, any cook who calls himself “chef” is either ignorant or an egomaniacal retard – telling the interviewer that his favorite dish is kway chap from a stall in some housing estate in Singapore and the reason he likes that dish so much is because of the stall’s chilli sauce.

Kway chap is basically flat noodles in soup and eaten with braised pig innards.

The “kway” refers to the noodles and the “chap” refers to a mixture of the pig innards, tofu, etc. In the photo above the “kway” is in the background.  The tiny dish contains the chilli sauce.

Singaporeans are very accustomed to dipping their food into a dipping sauce – either chilli sauce or soy sauce.

But the sauce does not a dish make!

You can have the best chilli sauce in the world but if you dip shit into it, shit remains shit. Good sauce doesn’t turn shit into gourmet cuisine.

Too many Singaporeans are too sidetracked by the sauces that accompany food.

I’m sure this is not the first time you hear of morons saying that a particular dish from a particular stall is good because “the chilli is very nice.”

It’s all wrong!

Why the need to spice up everything? Especially food that is not Indonesian, Malaysian or Thai? A friend of mine would ask the stall to add extra chilli in her noodles, to dump a huge dollop of tiny pork lard bits into the bowl as well. In the end her bowl of bak chor mee (minced pork noodle) tastes nothing like the way it is supposed to taste.

And these people call themselves chefs.

I can only shake my head.

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I thought, I thought…

Many people, when coming across an idea or a subject, mentally race ahead to conclude whatever picture they have in their minds.

Example: I said “I heard durian prices…” and before I could finish, the person to whom I was having the conversation with, interrupted rudely and interjected “Yes, durian prices this season are extremely cheap and everyone’s buying them, I myself have been eating a lot of nice cheap durians lately, some of the top-grade ones are going for like 10 bucks a kilo, have you been eating any, you should if you haven’t, if you want I can pass you my durian seller’s contact number.” He has assumed I wanted to talk about the trending topic of the day which is the low durian prices (due to overharvest).

“Actually,” I regained control of the conversation (after regaining my composure), “I was going to say that I heard durian prices are now really cheap here in Singapore, but, when I was in Hong Kong just two days ago, each durian was still selling for as much as two-hundred Singapore dollars.”

My friend responded with “Oh, I thought you were talking about the low durian prices in Singapore.”

Well, retard, you thought wrongly lah!

When you rush ahead and interrupt without giving your conversation partner the opportunity to finish saying what he has started to say, and you mentally come to a conclusion that your mind has already drawn, you basically deny yourself the chance of understanding what the other person is trying to say.

And you end up responding with “Oh I see, I thought…”

I thought this and I thought that.

It happens to a lot of people.

Honestly, it makes you come across more like the retard you already are.

(With these morons, their own minds block them from really understanding things.)

Next time, listen, digest, understand, check, then, if necessary, respond wisely. Choose your words prudently.

Don’t shoot off your mouth.

Many people need to learn how to be effective listeners!

They need to know the difference between hearing and listening.

Remember you are given two ears and one mouth.

That should give you a hint.

That should stop me from having to hear you say “Oh I see, I thought…” all the time.

It’s grating!

It drives me nuts.

It makes me want to run to Tham Luang cave and die there!

Another thing: please fact-check before asking stupid questions.

I am not Google.

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What Happened to your Apostrophe?

Bad English speakers proliferate my world.

I hear more and more people dropping the apostrophe when referring to someone or something related or belonging to a person.

I hear people saying “Daniel mother” instead of “Daniel’s mother” and “Daniel pipes” instead of “Daniel’s pipes.”

I am a Singaporean of Chinese descent.

Most of my grandparents were born in China. (Well, my maternal grandmother was born in Singapore.)

My parents were born in Singapore.

I was born here in the late 50’s.

English is not my mother tongue.

But I have written about eight books in English and I think I am qualified to comment.

Hey, you moron, I said “mother tongue” and not “mother’s tongue” and in this case, I am not wrong.

Go study.

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Another Pipe by Lee von Erck

Always a pleasure to own a pipe by Lee von Erck; here’s another masterpiece:


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2,000-year-old Morta Pipes by Rattrays

Charles Rattray opened his pipe and tobacco store in Perth, Scotland in 1903.

The company is now owned by Kohlhase & Kopp of Germany.

Rattrays pipes are made in England, France and Italy.

These two pipes pictured above, made from 2,000-year old morta, are real beauties.

Morta was first used as pipe making material during the Second World War. The shortage of briar forced manufactures to try out various woods, and morta – or bog oak – became a popular choice. After the war, briar began to be used again and these other materials fell away, leaving only a small number of artisan carvers to continue to work with morta.

Morta is extremely difficult to harvest and to work with.

Large oak logs are first extracted from bogs throughout Europe. These logs have spent literally thousands of years encapsulated in thick peat and have been slowly fossilizing and petrifying away. The acidity of the peat eats away at parts of the wood, meaning only the very heart of the wood can be used. A large log may only be suitable for a few pipes, making it potentially a very time-consuming process. The different colors in morta are typically an indication of how old the wood is. The darkest, almost pitch black morta is usually around 7,000-8,000 years old. That means this wood had been in the bog for at least 3,000 years before the first pyramid was built in Egypt. The lighter, copper colored morta is usually between 3,000 and 5,000 years old. Just think of the historic events that have happened while this wood was under water turning itself into morta.

Morta pipes smoke more like meerschaum or clay pipes. They smoke dry and the wood does not impart a flavor to the tobacco. Smoking out of a morta pipe is a perfect way to experience a tobacco without the pipe influencing its flavors.

All this means that morta pipes are highly collectible pieces.

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A New Ropp

Ropp Pipes was started way back by Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) to make cherrywood pipes in 1869.

Then probably in 1917 a workshop was acquired by the company in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 to start the fabrication of briar pipes although cherrywood pipe continued to be the mainstay of the company.

Unfortunately, it closed in 1991 and was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (maker of Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix, etc) in 1994.

Below is a briar pipe fitted with horn stem – part of its Vintage line – which I acquired recently:

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World-Class Flint Knapp Artist Kenny Hull

Flint knapping is an ancient art form. I have never heard of it until I visited the Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana show last month. One of the tables was displaying an obsidian knife carved by world-class flint knapp artist Kenny Hull who has been knapping since 1996 using the flake over grind method. I bought it as a memento for my younger son.

I’ve since been in contact with Kenny and his masterpieces are really outstanding which explains why he has made knives for several movies including the 2013 Riddick #3.

Here’s the knife I bought in Chicago:

The second one I purchased has a coyote jaw as a handle:

The next two incorporate deer legbones:

With such fine craftsmanship, it is easy to understand why Kenny’s creations are being collected worldwide.

I’m proud to be a new fan!

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A Meerschaum by Tekin

Tekin Gok is a Turkish meerschaum pipe carver, born in 1974. He learned pipe carving from master carver Sevket Gezer as well as from his uncle, the award-winning artisan carver, Salim Sener.

Meerschaum is a German word for a mineral loosely translated as “sea foam” and those found in Eskisehir, central Turkey, where Tekin lives, is of the highest quality – purest and whitest.

Tekin has been carving pipes for more than 25 years and he specializes in floral themes mostly.

Look at the beautiful bowl within a bowl of this masterpiece:


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A Ferndown

Leslie “Les” John Wood worked for Dunhill for 25 years. His last position was master silver smith, but till December 2011 he still did all of Dunhill’s silver work.

In 1978, he started L & JS Briars to craft his own brand of pipes and marketed them under various names, most famous of all is the name “Ferndown,” named after the mansion he lives in.

Most of his pipes are rusticated.

Grading is by finish: “Bark” (90%, sandblasted dark brown and black), “Antique Bark” (tan sandblasted), “Reo” (brown and red, smooth), “Root” (orange, smooth), and “Tudor Root” (orange and brown smooth) and by size (one to three stars).

The Ferndown Premiers are bowls turned by Les, sandblasted by Michael Parks in Canada and then sent back to the UK for staining, stemming, silver work and finishing.

He also designates smooth pipes with straight grains with the alphabets SG.

Les Wood retired in 2016 and makes only a few pipes a year.

This beauty is a Reo 3 stars:

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Do Zombies Run SingPost?

They are all probably working in SingPost.

Every single contact I have had with SingPost has been a negative one.

We often read in the news of how our postal services were able to deliver letters presumed lost for years, or without addresses, or simply with the recipients’ names.

I was therefore full of hope when I phoned SingPost the other morning for assistance.

A parcel from the US, sent via USPS (whose local partner is SingPost) had a mailing label with my name on it and an incomplete address (unit number was missing). So I contacted SingPost to provide the tracking number and my full address, but was directed to a call center probably located outside Singapore, whose call taker told me in a very strong foreign accent that “It is against our policy to change the delivery address on the mailing label and the parcel will be returned to sender.”

No amount of my pleas for help got me anywhere. Clearly letters miraculously delivered, despite partial addresses, is a thing of the past. This despite my providing full personal details to the call taker and assuring him that I was the intended recipient and the parcel’s delivery is of utmost importance.

SingPost, another organization going to hell in a handbasket.

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