Lake Monster Moassel
As some of you know I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in Turkey and Iran on business and I’ve been able to get in a bit of smoking time. One of the more delightful parts of Turkey to visit is the city, lake and province of Van. After a very long a stressful day on business stuff I managed to foist off my workload on to my subordinate and take some time to drive around the lake and check out the famous Van Kalesi briefly. I got lost driving around the shores of the lake and eventually decided to stop and get something to eat at a little cluster of shops I came upon.
After a nice bit of Mayonezli Balik, heavy black bread and a horrible tasting soda called Uludag I wondered around for about half an hour and came upon a little wooden & clay café that had a picture of a stylized sea serpent drawn a billboard which I assumed was someone’s rendition of the celebrated and occasionally video taped creature of mystery. Naturally I went in hopes of finding monster memorabilia but instead discovered a bunch of people enjoying narghiles and drinking Bergamot oil flavored tea which appealed to me as a great way of getting the nasty taste of the soda out of my mouth.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my translator with me and my attempts at reading from my phrase book elicited puzzled looks and some snickering rather then my purchasing anythingthing. Luckily, a statuesque woman buying tea noted my predicament and was able to translate for me.
It turned out that the owner of the café makes his own moassel and was fairly incredulous that a large, old blonde guy knew what a narghile was let alone wanted to smoke one and buy some of his products. Naturally he suggested I buy cigarettes and that his moassel was “full of strength and only locals it” but he eventually relented and rented me a nice, well worn brass rig with a large leather hose featuring a wooden tip and watched with great interest as I set it up.
As is often the case with family made products the owner charges by the bowl and simply scoops the moassel out of an old milk churn with his hand, dumps some in a bowl which he flattens with his finger before dumping the contents onto wax paper which is secured with some string.
I passed a couple of hours smoking, drinking tea and eating candied fruit while watching the lake hoping to see the legendary creature. While the monster never bothered to show up I did enjoy the moassels highly. The first blend was tasted like a mix of Super Kass & Balkan pipe tobacco with an after taste of Bergamot oil while the second blend had a definite mix of clove, molasses and Turkish pipe tobacco flavours. In both cases the moaasels had very sticky, thick consistency and had a very relaxing, mellow character.
A cool tidbit I found out is that the owner built his café where he did because he claims to have twice seen the monster at that spot.