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Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food meet in the middle and produce some tasty dishes, as well as overlaps in culture.  You'll find many Greek/Lebanese/Turkish/Macedonian/Exotic restaurants in most major cities.  This episode is devoted to Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurants that are dear to our hearts - from the feta to falafels, grape leaves to gyros!

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  • Mer

    Hey there, I just found your show and I’ve been enjoying listening to back episodes, but I really need to read you the riot act about hookahs.

    A hookah (shisha, nargile, and the improbable hubbly bubbly) is used to smoke shisha. Shisha (hookah tobacco, molasses, moasel, flavor) is a shredded or ground sticky tobacco mixture. Shisha is 50% to 80% tobacco, and the rest is a flavorful syrup. Shisha can be made with real fruits and stuff, but it’s usually not.

    There are three major differences between smoking hookah and smoking cigarette tobacco. First, shisha tobacco isn’t fermented. Fermentation is what makes a lot of the really nasty chemicals in cigarette smoke and dip or chew. Secondly, shisha isn’t burned, it’s vaporized. A cigarette burns at something crazy like 800 degrees, whereas shisha cruises along right around 200, thanks to the relatively low-temp coal and a layer of foil and air between it and the tobacco. This means the shisha itself doesn’t burn, but the syrup it’s saturated in vaporizes, and that’s what comes out as “smoke” when you suck on the hose. That’s why it tastes like candy and not burning nastiness, and you’ll notice that hookah smoke doesn’t linger like a cigarette or a cigar. Third, shisha has much less nicotine than cigarettes, usually. Most shishas are “washed”, and that’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. the unfermented tobacco leaves are rinsed and wrung out several times, and a lot of the nicotine goes with it. In my experience, an average hookah of about 45 minutes with one person smoking will grant about 4 cigarettes worth of nicotine, and most of that nicotine will happen in the last ten minutes.

    So, yeah. Hookahs are awesome.

    Sep 14, 2009 at 7:55 pm
  • zweifatchicks

    Mea culpa, Mer, and thanks for the great info!! I (this is Tracy, BTW) was totally wrong about there not being much tobacco in it. *insert embarrassed blushing here*

    That totally explains why you can puff on a hookah like a madman and not get “tongue bite”, which is really easy to get off of a regular pipe or sometimes a cigar.

    This comment totally has ironic timing because we were both talking about getting a hookah again the other day. :)

    Sep 14, 2009 at 8:05 pm
  • Mer

    In a gesture of Gay Pennsylvanian Fat Girl Foodie Nerd Podcaster Solidarity WOO YUENGLING, if I can help, lemme know.

    Sep 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm
  • Hookah Flavors

    I recently came across a study regarding new cases of hookah smoking. What are your thoughts?

    Mar 23, 2010 at 12:08 am
  • zweifatchicks

    If you’re referring to the 2008 study from Harvard (Mental Health something, I think?), I think we still pretty much think the same as before on hookahs. The catch with that study is they assumed that the hookah smoker actually inhales. Since neither one of us really inhale much, if at all, and use them in extreme moderation (though we haven’t gotten to smoke one in a while - insert frowny face here), we kind of pooh-pooh the study. I’ve taken a look at this (this is Tracy, BTW), and I’m not overly sure I really trust it. So many tobacco studies for burned tobacco products other than cigarettes make the assumption that inhalation occurs, so they get different results.

    Tobacco, like so many things in life, is a thing for moderation. Having a hookah a day may not be the greatest thing for you, but one a week or so, and you’ll probably going to be just fine. It’s just like butter - too much of it, all the time, and you’re cruising for a heart attack. A little bit in moderation, and you’re good to go.

    I hope that answers your question. If you’re referring to another study, please toss out a link. I’d love to take a look if there’s some new data out there. And I dream of the day when medical researchers accept the fact that not everyone inhales things like hookahs, cigars, and pipes and they gear their research to such things.

    Mar 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm

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Our theme music is "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0". This podcast is also protected under Creative Commons Attribution 3 - copy it, share it, but please give credit!








ZFC's bookshelf: read

Cheers! A History Of Beer In Canada101 Things to Do with Ramen NoodlesPlenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating LocallyLast Chance to Eat: the Fate of Taste in a Fast Food WorldThe Little Black Book of Tea: The Essential Guide to All Things TeaTea: The Drink That Changed the World

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