Wednesday, June 8, 2011

shou helwa

I've been taking advantage of the hot water and home cooking at my mum's house this week, and luckily managed to see my Tante Leyla, who was in town from Lebanon for a few hours before catching a cruise ship to Dubrovnik with her friend. We had enough time for a lightning speed catch-up over a few cups of Turkish coffee and lunch. My aunt is a fantastic reader of coffee grounds. Each time she visits, we go through the ritual of cooking the coffee in its long-handled pot, watching it rise, pouring it into little cups, and sipping it carefully until the grounds are in a glistening, muddy mound at the bottom.

I gulped down the piping hot kahve and thrust the cup into her hands. She flipped it over onto its saucer, set it to dry, and calmly lit a cigarette. When it was ready, she slowly turned the little cup over, raised an eyebrow, and took a long, thoughtful drag from her cigarette.

"Ahhh... shou helwa!" she smiled, and consulted her friend.
"Helwa iktir!" her friend agreed.

In a cloud of smoke and Arabic, I learned that many wonderful things were in store for me. I'll be keeping them my delicious little secrets, as I don't want to jinx the good fortune drawn in my cup. You never know. I am reminded of a quote I read recently by Roald Dahl, one of my all-time favourite writers:

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."


froy said...

Ooh, reading coffee grounds! An Assyrian woman I know does this. I see a beautiful woman in a long white skirt looking down into a magical mirror pond! Not that I have any idea how to do this sort of thing - cultural handicap I guess :)

szaza said...

I see her too :)
I used to think that I couldn't do it either, but it's all imagination and interpretation. Sometimes it's funny, the grounds make an image so precise, as if it was actually drawn.