Monday, July 21, 2008

Hookah History

Starting about a thousand years ago, men and women in Northwestern India and bordering Pakistan started smoking hashish and opium out of what quickly became the hookah. These original hookahs were made of a coconut base with a tube and head on the top, usually hot rocks or wooden coals for heat, and a tube to get smoke out. They were often served and smoked in the chai tea tents common to the area - a prototype to the modern day coffee house. As the hookah spread west into the Persian Kingdom, Tombeik was first used. Tombeik is a dark, almost flavorless tobacco grown in what is now Iran. Water was used to condense the Tombeik smoke and make sure it didn't burn. Persian hookahs were generally carved from wood.

Around the early 1600s, the hookah took Turkey by storm, becoming very popular amongst all classes and integral to coffee shop culture. The design of modern hookahs is generally unchanged from the original, Turkish designs. They too, used Tombeik exclusively, and Oak based coals were considered superior. Pomegranate and other juices were used to flavor the water. Soon thereafter, flavoring the tobacco became popular. Most tobaccos used honey molasses and dried fruit to add flavor, and this practice is still widespread in parts of the world. In America we usually use tobacco flavored with a honey based molasses, glycerin, and fruit juices or small chunks of dried fruit.

In the early 1800s, cigarettes became popular and the hookah diminished in use. Some coffee shops stopped serving it and it became more of a pastime. However, many women kept them in the home to smoke on a daily basis and it is from this base of fans that hookah has survived. In the 1960s, as the danger of cigarettes came to light, the popularity of the hookah started growing again. Today, the hookah is most popular among college students in America. Most college towns have a few hookah lounges that double as hookah and "Shisha" dealers. Shisha doesn't technically mean the flavored tobacco we smoke today, but Americans have bastardized the term to mean that. Controversy surrounds the hookah with many claims as to how dangerous it is for the smoker. For more on that, check out an earlier post of mine located here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

... And We're Back (Again)

To start off with, Happy Trinity Day everybody. I spent most of my formative years fascinated by military and nuclear technology. It's amazing to me what is possible, it's got science, it has explosions, and reading a book titled The Making of the Atomic Bomb tends to keep people away in High School/Junior High. I was, and still am, obsessed with it.


So Dillon has been hard at work on the blog for the Art Gallery installation, check it out here and I hope some of you can see it. Thanks to all of you who have already came over and seen it, glad you liked it!


Next week on the blog is the long awaited Hookah week. I will be posting up 7 posts about hookah and I hope you all enjoy!


Google gives me a star but says all I talk about is cars, so lets talk about Le Mans:

The year was another rainy ending, but Peugeot was dominant. Yay! I love seeing the 908 drive around the track and man was it ever fast. It seems they've solved most of the reliability issues they faced last year and they're faster than the Audis, but Audi still won. Peugeot was on the lead lap at the end, which is amazingly good, but next year I think they'll win. Or maybe I just hope. A lot. It'd be nice to see Audi fall at Le Mans, ever. Only Volkswagen AG cars have won since 2000, and Audi has only lost once since then, so next year will be a tough race as always.


Anyways, I'm back and look for more updates soon. Thank you for your patience.