Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

I love smoking everything in moderation

October 22, 2005

Last year in Delhi I reported on why it’s a good idea to keep a positive attitude while experimenting with stimulants. This year I simply throw myself into the task. By the volume of the blueish haze, one wouldn’t suspect that we were entering an outdoor tea house, but the tea house, (and by tea, I mean smoke) of the Balkan Student Union is a vaulted-ceilinged wonder of kilim pillowed couches and abundant eastern aesthetic occupying a maze of very confusing little stone courtyards. There are only four things on the menu here: tobaccos, teas (apple, mint, black) or coffee, and a game resembling backgammon. After a long day’s walk through the Istanbul Biennale locations, it was wonderful to get into a heady relax with a bowl full of nargileh. That’s Turkish for waterpipe tobacco drenched in apple, mint or rose syrup. Smoking a waterpipe is like inhaling jewelry, so delicious. Dip your finger in the tobacco straight out of the tin and you’ll taste that it’s sweet as candy.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

images top to bottom: an employee of the Istanbul University Balkan Student Union Smokehouse fills a waterpipe bowl with apple flavoured tobacco, a tangle of waterpipes in the storage room await new customers, the pipes unplugged

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images l to r: the men’s section of the Balkan Student Untion Smokehouse illustrates why segregating men and women isn’t always a bad thing, one blissed-out blog author photographed by Susannah Mira.

debra at 14:36 | | post to


  1. Before you ask, yes, the staff gives all of the customers a little plastic tip, you can see it in the image of the ‘author’. You’re supposed to change the tip each time someone new smokes, but I never bothered with this. Clean enough is clean enough.

    Comment by Debra — October 26, 2005 @ 16:03

  2. cool smoke out debs, i was in egypt and loved the honey infused tobacco with same delivery device. Also i know this is naughty but just had to send you this link of photos from new supercreative restaurant in Chicago (if you already did not know)

    Comment by james — October 28, 2005 @ 13:22

  3. James, that’s not naughty. I’m checking it out now.

    Comment by Debra — October 29, 2005 @ 18:03

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