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Old, very old, School Nakhla

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  #1  
Old November 18th, 2009, 07:08 PM
Hajo Flettner
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Default Old, very old, School Nakhla

During my present and seemingly (to me at least) epic series of journeys I got spend some time with a food chemist and tobacco enthusiast named Hilmi Murad in Tunis who holds a passion for recreating tobacco recipes of times gone by. Professor Murad owns a collection of antique narghiles as impressive as anything I’ve ever laid eyes on but even such a artworks paled in comparison to treasure trove of tobaccos he owns and his skill in crafting delightful products from them.

The good professor grows his own tobacco crops and makes moassel from scratch and I got to sample the fruits of his labour which included the original Muassel El-Zaghloul recipe. Professor Murad bought a note book at an auction a couple of years back written by Saleh Mohamed El-Ibiary of Nahkla fame which contained a recipe dated 1912 for a very nice black moassel which my friend managed to recreate.

Apparently the original Muassel El-Zaghloul recipe called for leaf that has been far too expensive to be used in an inexpensive, mass produced product like the Zaghloul known and loved by so many of us. As a result, my friend decided to obtain the needed leaf by getting the right seeds and growing his own tobacco on a small patch of land he developed himself. The Turkish leaf types used in this concoction are as follows:

1) Bitlis which is very aromatic leaf with a sugar content of about 25% from the Şemdinli region
2) Basma which comes from the Gümüşhacıköy region of Turkey which is a celebrated and expensive aromatic leaf highly prized by pipe smokers in the West.
3) The spicy/peppery Yayladağ variety
4) A mystery leaf that he wouldn’t disclose

The vast expense of importing high quality top soil, fertilizing, watering the crop and the amount of effort involved in maintaining such a diverse range of leaf by one man in his spare time demonstrated a level of commitment that deeply impressed me.

The leaves are all flute cured using the American method, destemmed and packed in cedar to age and meld for a full year in a climatically stable cellar. Next, the pieces are cut into finger wide strips about 1cm in length, mixed with an extremely light molasses he made himself and baked at a temperature he wouldn’t reveal although I think I could make an educated guess as to what it was. I would guess that molasses constituted about 30% of the weight of the final product.

I got to try it and I was simply surprised how differently this moassel was compared to anything I tried before. The first thing that struck me was the naturally sweet taste one finds in a few of the more exotic pipe tobaccos with the molasses element off in the background. Other aspects of the taste lent an earthy and slightly spicy note yet in the end everything seemed to meld rather nicely without any thing dominating. A very pleasant smoke that I found to be surprisingly mild and subtle compared to most black moassels.

Enjoying such a tobacco with an all brass narghile from the 1880s and a lovely handmade leather hose made for a delightful respite from normal life. The jazz that played the good professor’s vintage Quad electrostatic speakers managed to heighten the senses even more and the fine range of tea and fruits rounded out a fantastic experience.
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  #2  
Old November 18th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Sounds like an amazing experience, Hajo. Thanks for sharing!
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  #3  
Old November 18th, 2009, 08:33 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Sounds amazing, wish i could do something like that.
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  #4  
Old November 18th, 2009, 11:32 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

I always love story time with Hajo.
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  #5  
Old November 18th, 2009, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Impressive as always.... you are a storyteller for all of us....
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  #6  
Old November 18th, 2009, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Quote:
Originally Posted by hookahman1988 View Post
I always love story time with Hajo.

Who doesn't love story time with Hajo?


Yeah bro. I would kill important people to smoke some of that.
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  #7  
Old November 19th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

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Originally Posted by hookahman1988 View Post
I always love story time with Hajo.
+1 waiting for next time
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  #8  
Old November 19th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

awesome information. Sounds like a lifetime experience for the fellow hookah enthusiast. Thanks Hajo!
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  #9  
Old November 19th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

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Originally Posted by hookahman1988 View Post
I always love story time with Hajo.

Quoted for truth!

That is so epic Hajo! Makes me want to just leave the US and get lost with the perpetual amazment of the middle east
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  #10  
Old November 19th, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

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Originally Posted by hookahman1988 View Post
I always love story time with Hajo.
It's my favorite time. Hajo you sure do have some amazing experiences and the contribution you make to this community is unmeasurable
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  #11  
Old November 19th, 2009, 11:40 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

As always my friend, I am stricken with jealousy.
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  #12  
Old November 19th, 2009, 11:58 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

That's awesome! I didn't even know Nakhla was so intricate in their recipe creations, as a matter of fact i wasn't aware any tobacco company was like that.
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  #13  
Old November 19th, 2009, 12:02 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

you should make a book of your adventures
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  #14  
Old November 19th, 2009, 02:38 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

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Originally Posted by blazingking View Post
you should make a book of your adventures
Hell, they should give him his own show on the Travel Channel. I'd watch.
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  #15  
Old November 19th, 2009, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

very interesting Hajo, amazing story and as always thank you for sharing it with us!!
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  #16  
Old November 19th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Man Vs. Shisha
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  #17  
Old November 19th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

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Man Vs. Shisha
I'd watch for sure.
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  #18  
Old November 20th, 2009, 12:46 AM
Hajo Flettner
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

I'm glad you guys liked the story. It was a pretty good time and it's really great to learn stuff from people far smarter then I. If wasn't so crappy at languages then I could read the recipe and maybe figure out a way to replicate it.

I think that as time goes on stuff gets simpler and more homogenized to appeal to more people. I recall hearing from old timers that before prohibition beir in America varied a great deal and it was much more flavourful. I guess everything used to be that way.
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  #19  
Old November 20th, 2009, 12:55 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

+1 Hajo needs his own show, or at least a blog or youtube channel with a videotape of his adventures....shoot, I'll buy you a camera lol.
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  #20  
Old November 20th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Man I am so jealous. This is my first time hearing a story of yours, since I'm quite new here, but this was incredible. I would love to have this kind of experience with anything in life.. but with hookah.. it would be my dream come true.
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  #21  
Old November 20th, 2009, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

A TV show about narghile stuff would be great but i'm not exactly photogenic as a result of not having about half a face. Still, I'd love to check out a TV where someone goes around seeing the tobacco sites of the Middle East. It's easier to get to the sort of things I do in part because Arabs, Persians Turks and the people of Goa are very friendly to foreigners and I always have a professional translator with me which is sorta a must.

I should tell you guys that about 90% of the time I spend traveling is pretty boring. Basically just sitting around talking about production schedules, plant engineering and mundane political crap.

Last edited by Hajo Flettner; November 20th, 2009 at 02:25 PM.
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  #22  
Old November 20th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hajo Flettner View Post
A TV show about narghile stuff would be great but i'm not exactly photogenic as a result of not having about half a face. Still, I'd love to check out a TV where someone goes around seeing the tobacco sites of the Middle East. It's easier to get to the sort of things I do in part because Arabs, Persians Turks and the people of Goa are very friendly to foreigners and I always have a professional translator with me which is sorta a must.

I should tell you guys that about 90% of the time I spend traveling is pretty boring. Basically just sitting around talking about production schedules, plant engineering and mundane political crap.

A few thoughts.

Traveling is exciting to me regardless of the purpose. Exploration is amazing and I am sad to think that there are places that I will never visit. From grand cities to arid deserts, I want to see it all.

One of my deepest wishes is the ability to speak any language. Language is sadly a very strong barrier. Happily there will always be people who are happy to work together and make a connection.

Scars are the punctuation on the stories of our lives. But I understand. Trust me, I do.
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  #23  
Old November 23rd, 2009, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hajo Flettner View Post
During my present and seemingly (to me at least) epic series of journeys
Is this really only the present or have you always found yourself wandering into awesome adventures like this? I started lurking HP a while ago and it seems like every topic you create falls somewhere between impressive and awe-inspiring.

Very neat story though. I would love to try "proper" middle eastern tobacco, but I am not really confident enough in my abilities yet. Any recommendations on what to try first? The most authentic thing I've smoked is Double Apple, haha. My friend and I are interested in zaghloul and the like though.
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  #24  
Old November 23rd, 2009, 11:31 PM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

wow you are lucky to experience that
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  #25  
Old November 24th, 2009, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: Old, very old, School Nakhla

Quote:
Originally Posted by kalutika View Post
A few thoughts.

Traveling is exciting to me regardless of the purpose. Exploration is amazing and I am sad to think that there are places that I will never visit. From grand cities to arid deserts, I want to see it all.

One of my deepest wishes is the ability to speak any language. Language is sadly a very strong barrier. Happily there will always be people who are happy to work together and make a connection.

Scars are the punctuation on the stories of our lives. But I understand. Trust me, I do.
Kalutika my friend thanks for the input. It's good to hear from people that are bit more perceptive then I. My skills at languages didn't always suck since at a time I knew Lithuanian and several tongues indigenous to Southern Africa but I lost that over the years. It would be super cool to be smart enough know a good 8 or so tongues fluently but at my age learning is sorta hard.

I never really thought about my travels as anything more then a situation i'm thrust into and often I feel detached from where ever I am. I suppose I view my self wondering around in an empty field that contains the people I deal with and I see my surroundings as sensations rather then anything I feel is meaningful outside of what ever experiences come along. I don't think that is how things are just what happens.

As to scars, well, most of my stories are ones I wish I never heard told and I wonder why I am around to tell them when I shouldn't be.
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