Shisha + baba ghanoush = one hell of a time

Shisha and baba ghanoush.


Probably doesn’t sound like much of an equation, but you better believe it is.  Please let me do some explaining….

A shisha is a hookah.    In case you have the visual of the caterpillar in “Alice in Wonderland”, sitting atop an enormous (and most likely hallucinogenic) mushroom, this is nothing like it.    There is an amazing mix of tobacco and additives (apple, mint, there are many options) that are placed under a hot coal at the top, drawn down through the water at the bottom of the device (add ice to the water), and then pulled out through a hose.    Sound strange?  It’s not.  The aroma alone is enough to keep you going back.  But, it is much more than that.

The shisha is, from what I can tell, and from what I have experienced, an integral part of ancient cultures – not just one.  I have recently spent time with a very good friend of mine.  We talked about the art of the shisha while we ate baba ghanoush (a kind of eggplant spread) in a local tavern.

The conversation drifted to my friend’s time spent on the family vineyard outside of Casablanca, playing Ronda (a card game) with family and friends, and then we talked of Tangier and Marrakesh.  At this point it should be mentioned that I left out the most important parts of equation I mentioned earlier – culture and time.

I love culture.  When I sit and bask in the wonders of an ancient culture, I do whatever I can to absorb it, see what parts of it mesh with me as a person, and adopt parts of the culture that will make me a better and well-rounded individual.  The night before my departure, I was sitting at a small table with a few other people, taking and passing the shisha (fold the mouthpiece down to the hose before you pass it to the next person), and I realized that I needed MUCH more time than I had to absorb this culture that I was growing to love.

It takes time to see, absorb, reflect upon, and understand a culture that has developed over as many centuries as this one had.  I didn’t have the time.  But I did what I could in the time I had.  What was the result?  I’m a better person for having a greater understanding and admiration for the beauty that is diversity.

This world is shrinking, and I fear for the treasures that are ancient cultures.  Globalization does not and SHOULD not mean homogenization of cultures and people.  A palette should be full of different colors.

So, my friend, I fold the shisha hose and pass it to you.  Take your time, savor the aromas of this planet, and experience life outside of your comfort zone.

And always remember, Shisha + baba ghanoush = one hell of a time.



6 comments on “Shisha + baba ghanoush = one hell of a time

  1. You create such visual images with your words, Zack. Powerful.

    I haven’t yet stepped outside my comfort zone to explore the cultures you mention, but I’m more than a wee bit intrigued.

    We have a restaurant here in Texas with a Shisha bar, but the only clients who participate are men. Is that common and inherent in the culture? I ask because I need to know if I’ll have to bind my chest and wear a trench-coat and fedora when I visit these magically ancient cultural treasures.

    As for Baba Ghanoush; if it tickles the taste-buds as much as it tickles my fancy to say it, I’ll have two orders, please and thank-you.

    I totally agree with your observations about retaining cultural diversity. People caring for and respecting other cultures does not mean we have to become one homogenous glob. We simply have to appreciate and partake of as much as we can in our big, diverse world.

    SO good to have you back, Zack.

    • zkullis says:

      Gloria, thanks for the welcome back!

      During one of the MANY shisha stops on my trip, we had a lady from Egypt with us, as well as a gal from Korea. The issue, unfortunately, usually depends upon the country are you in, or what country are the owners from. Does that make sense?

      Shisha is smoked in a number of countries, some of which have some pretty severe restrictions on what ladies can/should do. My advice? Ask the manager or owner if they would mind. It’s in Texas, so I’m sure you won’t have a problem. It’s always safe to ask.

      If they say it’s okay, ask them if you can have the apple-mint combo, ask for ice in the water, and then ask if you can please have a tong to move the coal. (you will sound like a pro) 😉

      Baba ghanoush tastes as exotic as the name sounds. (I would have them drizzle olive oil over the top of the baba ghanoush before you dig in.

      Always a pleasure Gloria!


      • Thanks for the Intel, Zack. I have no problem invading space usually occupied by men. So long as it won’t land me in the slammer.

        As a new and esteemed member of The Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles, you may be interested in learning The Turtle Creed.

        “Turtles are bright eyed, bushy tailed, fearless and unafraid folk with a fighter pilot attitude. They think clean, have fun a lot, and recognize the fact that you never get any place in life worthwhile unless you stick your neck out..”.

        Some parts in that creed may require modification. When they convene the next meeting of turtles, I’ll bring it up.

      • Hey! Busy G-man Dude. My name used to be on the blogroll sidebar. What’s up? Don’t like being associated with Pen-of-the-Saucy?

        I get even in my novels, you know.


        No. I’m reading Smite the Damned. Payback might be hell. Literally.

        Never mind.

        [Stellar freak-me-out read, btw. Need Teddy Bear to sleep]

        Ha! I’ll keep leaving comments until the stats for this post soar to the number one spot. Nanner, Nanner. [Yeah. I know. Very mature.]

  2. zkullis says:

    I think it’s because I have the sidebar set up to list up-to 20. No worries though, you are still on the list. You get even in the novels?? That is more than a little intriguing……..

    Thanks for the btw, I’m glad it’s having an impact. I want to get a reaction from my reader. The next in the series is more intense, is written better (if I might say), and it should add significantly to the freak-out-factor. I can’t wait to get it back from the editor and get it going!

    • Zack, no worries on the sidebar. I did it just to get a rise out of you.

      In reference to Smite the Damned your words always carry a huge impact. You have a strong voice.

      My offer still stands. If you need Pen-of-the-Saucy to add some steam to some of the scenes, just give me a ping! I’ll need only an acknowledgement in credits. The pleasure of writing the scenes will be payment enough. NO HAIRY MONSTERS with smelly breath, though! When I write those scenes, I do so by living vicariously in the moment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s