Summer vacation, a new city, and an exciting hookah smoking experience.
In June my kids and I got on a plane and took a sixteen hour flight to Doha, Qatar. My husband works and lives here and so did I until the beginning of this year. So it’s hot, and everything is closed during the day because of Ramadan. There isn’t that much to do, so to keep the kids and I from going crazy, I would visit the Mövenpick hotel where my husband is the Executive Chef and pretty much spend the whole day there.
One day, I was visiting the tent they had set up for Iftar (breaking of fast) and noticed one of the guys setting up hookahs with actual fruit on top. Real fruit substituted for the bowl. I remember Ali mentioning fruit hookahs to me when we were brainstorming blog topics but honestly didn’t think they were a big enough thing to write about. My attention captured, I excitedly went to the guy setting them up to ask some questions only to realize he couldn’t understand a single word I was saying. He only spoke Arabic, and apparently my Arabic accent is only understood by my mom and husband! So once I had my husband to translate, I got a chance to find out about this exciting and apparently very popular way to smoke the hookah from a person who sets hookahs up for a living.
A fruit hookah is one that uses a real piece of fruit as the bowl that holds the tobacco. At this hotel the hookah preparer is one of the most popular employees. To make a fruit hookah he would take a fruit like a pineapple, cut it in half, force a cork type instrument through the middle of the cut half to make a hole for the fruit to slide on to the hookah top. He then cut a thin layer of fruit out of the inside, and added a thick, compact layer of tobacco on the fruit. Once that’s done, he used a pretty big piece of aluminum foil to cover the top and almost the whole fruit. To give more emphasis to its presentation, he stapled the foil on to the fruit and then took the outside edges and lifted them up to make a makeshift bowl for the coal.
Once the fruit is ready, he would put a rounded tray onto the hookah, fill it with ice (to cool the smoke) and then slide the fruit on top. All that’s left is the coal and hose. It was awesome to watch and I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately the hotel doesn’t carry Social Smoke tobacco, so he used Al Fakher Grape blend, which he claimed to be one of the most popular blends here.
The Fruit Hookah Experience
Honestly, it was kind of sad how excited I was to try it. I was practically jumping up and down. Once he had it ready I eagerly took that first draw. And just as quickly found out that I don’t like this grape blend. It had the strangest artificial aftertaste that I really wanted to just walk away. But I swallowed my disappointment, literally, and kept smoking. After a few draws, I realized that couldn’t taste the pineapple at all. When I asked about that, I was informed that the pineapple was there for more of a ‘wow’ effect and played no real part in changing the actual flavor. I was getting some pretty thick clouds which I think is more a compliment towards the preparer and blend rather than the use of the fruit.
The fruit hookah was a fail for me. I love pineapple was thinking that it by using one, it would compliment the tobacco with its flavor. But I don’t think it’s worth spending forty or more dollars ( when out) for a regular smoking experience that I can achieve for way less. It looked awesome, and watching it being prepared made me fall in love with the diversity of the hookah even more. But flavor wise…it totally missed the mark. One perk it does have, if you choose a pineapple or watermelon vs an apple or orange is that the fruit holds more tobacco so the smoking session can be twice as long.
A quick note about using an orange as the fruit to hold the tobacco. It’s cheaper than asking for a bigger fruit to be prepared, it holds more tobacco than the standerd clay bowl, and the orange holds the heat well for a better smoking experience.
Other then that, I say, make it at home! It’s surprisingly easy. Check out the slideshow below for a quick how- to on the Fruit hookah. And as always please take the time to let me know what you think!