The tradition of drinking coffee in Turkey is very different from the way we drink coffee in the U.S. You will never see someone grab a paper cup of Turkish coffee and drink it on the way to work. İnstead, Turkish coffee is a ritual comparable to a Japanese tea ceremony.
First of all, the coffee must be prepared in a specific way. The finely ground coffee is heated in a copper pot (cezve) until boiling. The foam (köpük) is then poured into the cup and the coffee is brought to a second boil before the rest of it is poured and the grounds are allowed to settle. This is harder than it sounds. I have yet to acieve the desired köpüklü effect. It’s a good thing I’m not looking for a Turkish husband; mothers judge jarshly a prospective daughter-in-law’s inability to make a proper coffee.
Secondly, Turkish coffee is ideally enjoyed in a quiet atmosphere conducive to conversation. It is traditionally served with lokum ( the confection known as Turkish Delight) and a glass of water. I’d always assumed the water was the clear your mouth of coffee breath and remaining grounds, but my friend Muka told me the water was originally used as a signal: If a visitor drank the water before the coffee, that meant they were hungry, and food should be offerred. If they drank the coffee first, they were full.
I recently went to Muka’s home for Turkish Coffee and tasseography. Muka and her husband live just down the road from me in a new apartment complex partially hidden by the woods. Their aparment is beautifully furnished with Indian antiques they bought while living in Karachi, Pakistan.
After showing me how to make the coffee (on her admittedly non-traditional sleek, modern electric stove) we sat down for a relaxing chat. Delicious fresh lokum for the local kuruyaci (purveyor of dried things- nuts, coffee, spices and lokum). This bears no resemblance to the sugary Turkish Delight sold in boxes at tourist destinations, but rather has a subtle, delicate flavor.
There was also a display of tempting pastries, which confused me because there were no plates on which to eat them. This mystery was later solved when tea was served in teacups on saucers with indentations for the cups on one side and room for pastries on the other. Muka then served the pastries. I’d forgotten that in Turkey it’s tea and cookies or cake, not coffee (unless you’re drinking the dreaded Nescafe, which I’m not).
It makes sense, since coffee is served in small, espresso-like cups and is quickly finished (or should be- Muka laughed at how I was savoring mine. “Turkish coffee must be drunk hot”, she explained). Tea, on the other hand, while also served in relatively small (from an American perspective) cups, is constantly refillable, so you always have enough to wash down your cookies.
After tea and pastries (during which time our coffee grounds had been allwed to settle) Muka showed me how to read my cup. When you finish drinking your coffee, you put the saucer on top of it and turn cup and saucer upside down. The grounds form patterns as they drip down the cup. The method is predominantly Rorschach test- whatever you think you see is what you see. Interpreting what yo see is part free-association and part application of symbols.
According to my cup, I can expect love and money in my future. A couple of years ago my friend Nazli read my cup and said I was going to get married. Funny how nobody ever says “I see you dying alone in poverty.” But hey, it’s good to keep positive thoughts, right?
(This post was delayed first because I left my camera at Muka’s, and then because I’ve been trying to get my computer to work. I failed, and thus cannot upload any photos at the moment. Damn Apple and their refusal to add a USB port on the ipad. I decided to post anyway, and will add photos when possible.)Google+