The Friday afternoon Philosophy seminar at RAE’s Tobacco on Third Street is an institution cherished by the city’s elite minds. It’s led by Al Baker, hero and gentleman.

Today, Col. Baker begins a monthly column in which he’ll share his vast knowledge and experience of cigars, starting with the Camacho Triple-Maduro:

Like Mark Twain, I smoke cigars in moderation, never more than one at a time. Neither Mark nor I would ever think of smoking while asleep, or while swimming in water too deep to stand in. Other than those exceptions the day is pretty open.

I can enjoy a mild cigar in the morning, a medium in the afternoon, and, after dinner, possibly take on what those in the cigar business refer to as a “full flavored” stogie. For those not in the know …

“full flavored” means strong. Even experienced cigar puffers have gotten dizzy by taking on very “full flavored” cigars in the middle of the day.

If you don’t know about cigars, you should. Smoking them can be a terrible vice. But if I had to choose between smoking cigars and drinking alcohol, and I pray I never do, I would stay with cigars.

First, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a study linking smoking hand rolled cigars to any health major health deficiency. (If you know of such a study, please put me on to it). Secondly, driving after smoking a cigar is still not a capital offense. Thirdly, no one to my knowledge has ever had one cigar too many and flew into a drunken rage.

And for me, nothing is quite as relaxing. What was that Kipling quote? “A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.”

Cigars are neither big cigarettes nor are they smoked in similar manner. Cigars are not meant to be inhaled. The smoke is enjoyed in your mouth, not in your lungs. To properly smoke a cigar, take three short puffs with third held in your mouth.

Three puffs keep the cigar burning, because unlike cigarettes, good cigars have no additives to make the tobacco burn.

(There are a bunch of people who believe that tobacco has gotten its bad name not from the plant that was so important to our original inhabitants, but from the chemicals that greedy manufacturers added to sell more product.)

You smoke a cigarette because you have to; you smoke a cigar because you want to.

Most importantly, cigars are a symbol of success. When the times are good, cigar sales increase. Think Winston Churchill, US Grant, Groucho Marx, JFK, George Burns and, of course, Mark Twain.

Pick of the month: Camacho Triple-Maduro

Camacho uses three corona leafs all darkened by heat to make the absolutely gorgeous cigar. Other makers have used two maduro leafs, for the binder and wrapper, but never for the filler. It is pricy at about $12 a stick. But for a special treat, it is a smoke that you can’t beat.

— Al Baker al.jpg


1 Response to “Moderation”

  1. 1 The Bird
    December 7, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Interesting article; from the information presented here it seems that cigars are under appreciated by us non-cigar-smoking folks.

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email news and reviews to:

paddydear@epix.net or pcarroll@patriot-news.com


In culinary school and getting ready to trade the writing life for the cooking life. Or not. Might do both. At the moment I'm a feature writer for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. My name is Pat Carroll.

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