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#362 :: Cuban Cigars

February 11, 2005

sildenafil ‘popup’, generic ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>They arrive like smuggled slugs of radioactive metal, encased in sheets of cedar and sheathed in little tubes of machined aluminum. A relative (I shan’t say which) snuck them off a cruise ship and back in through Customs. The tobacco tastes no more extraordinary than the average Dominican blend – woody, rich in the back of the throat. But the frisson of illegality – a mesh of spiteful Cold War trade embargoes slapped on an English-branded product of Cuba – adds layers of flavor and meaning to the experience. I have maybe one cigar every month or two. There is the ritual – moisten the end, slice off the tip, light a match to light the cedar sheet, use it to heat the end of the cigar for precisely 45 seconds (holding it slightly away from your body appraisingly, at approximately the level of your navel) – then you light. A few quick, deep puffs while rotating the cigar end through the flame. Stoked with a puff every minute or two, it will last about an hour. A cigar is a welcome break from painting, a post-dinner respite around a campfire, a warming influence on a cold boat. As the man says, a good cigar is a smoke.

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