I mentioned my birthday present, the hookah, in my previous post. I've now fired it up a few times and am getting the hang of it. The trickiest part is managing the heat. The shisha - flavored tobacco - goes in a bowl at the top of the hookah; the bowl is covered with a screen or foil; and hot coals are placed directly on top of the screen or foil. To little heat and the smoke is weak and flavorless; too much heat and the tobacco chars, and the smoke burns your throat and is awful to inhale. Get it just right, and you get smooth, flavorful, satisfying clouds. I am still learning the technique.
My friend Greta came by the other night and she was clever enough to take pictures as we set up the hookah and puffed away at it.
I take a pull on the hose without heat, just to make sure air flows where it is supposed to and does not flow where it is not supposed to.
You can see the coals sitting on top of the bowl in the last picture. During the session you move the coals around, to keep using fresh shisha within the bowl, and to keep any one section of the bowl from getting too hot and turning the bowl harsh. When the coals get too small, you can add a fresh coal. I did okay with the heat management this time; we kept it running for the better part of three hours, on about 4 coals (maybe only three, I can't recall). We were smoking a cherry-flavored shisha manufactured by Al Fakher, a company in UAE.