Originally Posted by Hajo Flettner
[...] Personally I am huge fan of Sheikh El Balad although Ambre is decent I prefer El Kif, Arous El Nile and El Gondoul to it.
As to terms, well I confess to be confused by the way Tunisians use the terms tombac and jurak. I haven’t spent much time in Tunis but I have noted that in the more rural parts of the country people actually use the correct terms. I also have had far less luck finding old fashioned Tunisian jurak, tombac and black moassel then I would like. The few I have had are very strong and remind me more of Persian products which is odd since I know that they have no connections. I suppose it is because they often use something that reminds of Bergamot oil
Well Hajo, according to the great expert on Narghiles KAMAL CHAOUACHI, who works in Paris but happens to be Tunisian, as You know, although shisha smoking developed tremendously in the seventies in Tunisia, to the point of having the Administration adopt legislation to try to limit its expansion or abuse by Tunisian males (very few women smoked shisha in Tunisia), this form of consuming tobacco is relatively modern in that country
. Now, as in Lebanon, Tunisians really smoke like mad with waterpipes. An uncle of my girlfriend, a lawyer by profession, would smoke almost continuously, at work, on his car, on the beach...
Surprisingly, even if Tunisia was ruled by the Ottomans for quite a long time, Western travellers do not record waterpipes until quite recently. Chibouks where much more common. "rguila" or "gargaras" small waterpipes (similar to some Egyptians and to Indian "Goorgoory" or narghiles with a long straigh tube instead of a hose where common in the nineteenth century, but the country only became a massive consumer of moassel in the last decades of the XXth Century. This would explain why Tunisian women do not often smoke shisha. Shisha was mostly smoked in cafés, and women did not go to cafés... Very few would smoke at home, as opposed to Egyptian, Lebanese or Persian women.
Tombak or Tombeki, does not appear to have been widely smoked or even smoked at all in Tunisia. It is smoked in Libya, but, according to CHAOUACHI it did not travel further west, in Africa, or it did not remain long in use there. Waterpipe smoking reached Tunisia and Algeria, under he Turks, but Tombak does not seem to have remained in use by Tunisians, nor by Algerians. In any case, waterpipe use by the population in general did not reach Morocco just foreigners (wether European, Turkish or Arabs) would bring a few narghiles for their own use, in the late nineteenth Century.
Waterpipe in Tunisia is rather smoked in the towns than in the countryside. Now, I also observed that the more You travel South, the more the terms used are Arabic instead of Tunisian Dialectal, or french or even italian. In Tunis most people would salute by saying "aslema" and "Bislema" as they leave, instead of "Assallamou aleikum". The same happened with many other words and expressions, and might welll have happened with the misuse of the terms "tombak" and "Jurak".
When visiting Tunisia I almost always smoked either SHEIKH EL BALAD or NAKHLA Dubble Apple. In my last trips I tried some other middle eastern brands and flavours (Rose, or grape) which where starting to become popular.