Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Old-School American Blends

This is a good time to be a pipe smoker. There are myriads of blends available in all sorts of forms and configurations. English blends with top quality leaf abound with premium burleys in various forms. We have matured virginias, virginia flakes, virginia plugs, stoved virginias, red virginia, lemon virginia, black virginia, brown virginia...there's "old belt", "middle belt" (championship belt?). We have a multitude of virginia and perique blends that are commonly referred to as "VApers". Aromatic blends are rampant with every flavor that one can think of. Any of these types of tobaccos can come in various cuts...plug, cake, crumble cake, ribbon, shag, slice or flake...spun-cut, loose-cut, twist, rope and navy-cut (sound like a song yet?).

Many years ago, pipe tobaccos were mostly burley-based and not topped with a lot of fancy syrups and perfumes. They were the staples of the American Pipe Smoker in a time when a guy could go to work in the morning, smoke all day in the office and come home to a happy family and a hot meal. After dinner the family would gather in front of the television set and enjoy some good wholesome American entertainment. The sounds of the old classic shows and the smell of Dad's pipe smoke are still cherished memories for many folks to this day.

In today's social climate of "political correctness", those happy carefree times are long gone but certainly not forgotten. While we are no longer allowed to think about wives taking care of the home and children, or smoking at work, or Mom cooking real food, we can take great comfort in knowing that there are still some blends that are reminicent to that golden age of the pipe.

For the past year or so I've heard many pipe smokers discuss blends from a shop in Boston called "Peretti's" and how wonderful their tobaccos are. Foolishly assumming that these were probably just re-labelled Lane blends, I dismissed any thoughts of trying any of them. Recently a fellow pipe smoker, whom I have a great respect for, sent me a sample of "Park Square" from Peretti's. This is in no way anything close to Lane tobacco...this is some real "old-school" American tobacco! After cursing myself for not having tried this before, I started to panic in fear that this blend might end up discontinued like many of the other great classics. Upon my initial order I received a sample of a fine English blend called "Omega" and, once again, I was overwhelmed at how wonderful this stuff is!

I am enjoying these treasures from Peretti's immensely and with each bowl I am trasnported back in time fifty years...when a "tv" meant "television" and not "transvestite"....when "PC" meant "Pepsi Cola" and "Perry Como"...when food was cooked at home and had fat, grease, salt and sugar without the shame, guilt and warnings of impending death with each bite taken.

This is a good time to be a pipe smoker.

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