Ah...Tis a most enjoyable way to spend an afternoon ~ Sitting alone in a quite little coffee house while sipping on a cup of Kavhe, my nose buried in a book; I enjoy the musicians and the diverse conversations around me. There are men everywhere ~ smoking water pipes while they discuss politics, literature or make business transactions. Everyone seems to be very agreeable and content. My hips stir with desire to dance, but I silence them. Everyone knows a lady does not dance in public , and one would most certainly not be found frequenting coffee houses...or, heaven forbid, sneaking into a men's club!
I can hear you ask, "How does a slave girl like myself steal away for an adventure like this?" Tee Hee. Jinnis? Bah! What good are they? I feel rather like a spy dressed in these men's clothes that the gypsy bundle-woman loaned me. She was so kind to help smuggle me out of the harem for a day of adventure. I will owe her favors for quite some time. I just had to explore this facet of life to share more openly with you beyond the world beyond the harem. You see, for although we women are forbidden to enjoy our coffee in public, we do enjoy it after a visit to the haman (baths) where we nibble on sweets while we lounge and gossip amongst ourselves.
The Kavhe seems to be very good in here, prepared with the right touch. Mine is sweet, just as I ordered it. Therefore, I am content and will stay as long as I can ~ enjoying my freedom. I must be careful to not stare too long at some of these delightful faces. My beard is much less concealing than the veil I am use to wearing , and rather itchy, too! My harem life has been far too cloistered, and these many handsome faces are more than intoxicating enough without the effects this coffee has on me! I would like to have my grounds read, but that is obviously too feminine and would likely call attention to me. I'm blushing with the thoughts of sending a mendel (handkerchief) to some of these men later on. Hmm... that bundle-woman will have to help me deliver them! I see several men I want to exchange poetry and love notes with. Tee Hee! I am so naughty ~ tired of enuchs and so lonely for male companionship! Oh no, it is getting rather crowded now and I see a group motioning to join me at my rather empty table. No time for a second cup... I need to slip out without speaking a word! I think I shall wander around the souk for a little while. Hopefully, I will learn more about those men I just laid eyes upon.
In the historical lands that we now call the Middle East, drinking Coffee not only shows hospitality, it has flourished to become quite a social ceremony. Coffee is usually drunk with a guest, sometimes over a long conversation. One's guest is served three coffees:
- as the first cup, the "ozguldum" cup is for welcome
- the "muabet" cup is the second one, and it is used to accompany the conversation
- the third is the "sikter" cup, or the farewell
The preparation of the coffee sets the mood for the guests. During sad occasions, unsweetened coffee is most always served. So, it goes to follow that sweet coffee is for happy celebrations and such. If the coffee is bitter, then one should not linger with the visit, for obviously the relationship must not be appropriate. When a young girl prepares coffee for her mother's guests, or possibly her future in-laws, it is her opportunity to show her skill in coffee preparation. This is one of the only ways in which she may help choose her future husband (somewhat), by showing her approval of him in the presentation of a good, sweet cup of coffee. Likewise, she might also serve a salty or bitter coffee if she disapproves of him.
Coffee has long changed since its early beginnings as a beverage. Originally no sugar was used at all as one would either eat sweets ,such as Turkish delight or Hulwa, before or after the coffee. Coffee was often flavored with either cloves, jasmine, ambergris, or even coriander. Coffee was also served in small cups held in ornate filigreed, or jeweled, holders (the cups themselves had no handles). It is later that the (now) famous porcelain cups would be made from the Iznik or Kutahya potteries.
There is an old Turkish Proverb: "Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and as sweet as love". As coffee traveled West, it eventually became watered down, filled with cream and (sadly) it lost all of its ceremony ~ much like the fate of tea, as well. Most of the Mediterranean countries still enjoy their coffee similar to the Turks. I felt the rapid effects to my brain and then an intense pain in my guts upon drinking my first cup of Turkish Coffee! It is best enjoyed in moderation, served with a cold glass of water. Because of its known narcotic nature, coffee was once considered sinful to consume, and was actually forbidden by some of the early clerics and theologians. Ships carrying coffee were sunk in the harbor outside Constantinople! However, once the Ottoman rulers eventually warmed up, they welcomed coffee into their courtly life with incredible ceremonies and encouraged its consumption.
Now go ahead and enjoy a cup (or two or three) with guests and a good long visit.
Pour cold water into the cevze (a special long handled pot). Blend sugar with the coffee and gently blend into the water. Stir well, bringing it to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the coffee reaches the rim of the pot lift from the heat and pour a little of the foam into the cup. This is very important as the (cream of the coffee) is the foam formed by the first boil. The foaminess is the secret to a good cup of coffee. Return to the heat and allow the coffee to boil to the rim again. Pour the coffee into the cup, being very careful not to disturb the foam. Remember to let coffee stand a few seconds before sipping, so that the grounds may settle.
Optional flavorings: * Add 2-3 split Cardamom pods to the coffee before you add it to the water. * For spiced coffee add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or ginger to the coffee before you add it to the water.