Re: Authentic Middle eastern shish or american?
Depends on what you mean by American and authentic Middle Eastern. While everyone will agree that brands like Tonic, SB, Fantasia etc are American style What is authentic Middle Eastern is more complicated. Brands like Tangiers are kind of neither but good in it's own right. To a lot of people AF, Nakhla & Laylana are fake, trendy crap rather then real mu'essel. To a lot of people on the Arabic peninsula and India tombac and jurak are the only real smoke worth talking about and those guys would no more smoke Zaghloul then i'd smoke King Moassel. In a lot of places you'll find that smoking means you use old fashioned black mu'essel or tobamel.
Basically, I prefer complicated flavours and that means unwashed tobacco usually. But I can enjoy some of the fruiter, modern style products like Zona or Fantasia but typically i'd rather have Salloum or AF.
When I can get it i'll use traditional mu'essel like Afzal Pan, Salloum Plain or Hookah Hookah Cavendish. Still, the best to me is the rich, small batch black style stuff you can't even buy in the West.