You always eat using the outside silverware first and work your way in because it is proper etiquette. Who wants to be gawked at while eating because they used the wrong fork? Etiquette is something many people forget changes throughout different cultures and may not even know that there is an etiquette to something in a different country. It is always a good idea to know the proper etiquette to important ideas and practices when interacting with another culture. This rule applies to hookah which is a huge cultural aspect in the Middle East.
(Pumpkin Hookah) (Hookah Tobacco)
First, you have to know the background of hookah. According to the Center for Disease Control, hookah is a water pipe in which people smoke tobacco that is specially made. Although the original Hookah was founded in India, the craze became big in the Middle East. The Hookah has four pieces; the Agizlik, or the mouthpiece, Lule, the top of the Hookah, Marpuc, the tube, and Govde, the body of the pipe. Hookah comes in all different shapes and sizes and are known by other terms such as nargile, hubble-bubble, shisha, goza, and argileh.
Second, you need to know the do’s and don’ts of smoking hookah in the Middle East. According to The Hookah and Fumari (hookah companies);
- Never light a cigarette with the coals from the hookah
- Never set the hookah on anything but the ground
- Try not to pass the hose to the next person, instead set it down and let them pick it up on their own, but if you do pass the hose, pass it in a way that the mouthpiece is not pointing at the next person.
- Only smoke tobacco out of the hookah
- Wrap the hose around the hookah to signal that you are done
- When smoking hookah with strangers, use your own mouth piece.
- Puff, Puff, Pass! Meaning each person should only take two puffs of hookah then let the next person take their turn.
Lastly, now that you are aware of the proper etiquette, you just might be ready for some tips about hookah and then you will really know what you are talking about.
- Refrigerating your tobacco makes it last longer!
- Add sweet red wine to the water to enhance flavor and add a warm feeling after every puff
- Break the charcoal into four pieces and set them on the outer edges of the bowl and slowly move them in toward the center as the session continues
- Make sure the tobacco is spread out evenly so the bowl does not clog
When I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Turkey, I saw these techniques and etiquette first-hand. My aunt and I sat outside of a café and smoked hookah for about an hour and watched people and socialized with locals. I loved experiencing a cultural norm from another region with natives because it gave me a better understanding of the culture. So what’s your favorite flavor? Share your tips and tricks with everyone below!
CDC – Fact Sheet – Hookahs – Smoking & Tobacco Use. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry/hookahs/
TheHookah.com Ordering Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thehookah.com/ordering-information.html
Hookahpedia (Hookah Information) – Fumari.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fumari.com/hookahpedia