|Spot the difference. Read on for the answer ...|
The word قهوة | ʔahwa has another use alongside meaning a coffeehouse, and that is the strong, grainy coffee that in English we call Turkish coffee. It is prepared by boiling بن مطحون | bunnə maṭḥūn | finely-ground coffee grains in a تنكة | tanaka or kanaka | small metal pot with a wooden handle, and decanted into a glass or cup at the table.
The coffee comes with three levels of sweetness, as I've experienced it:
The national sweet-tooth has meant that سادة | sāda, which should be unsweetened, seems always to have a little bit of sugar chucked in out of sympathy, as you wouldn't drink plain coffee unless you were mourning. A useful rhyme I've learnt to counter this annoying phenomenon is:
|Unsweetened coffee for gentlemen|
which is used jokingly like the phrase "no sugar, I'm sweet enough" is used by English-speakers who don't like their tea tasting like cat piss. Despite the fuss, relatively little of a Turkish coffee is drinkable, because once it's settled it hides between a frothy, grainy surface and the thick, muddy dregs, either of which, if sipped, will result in something like GloZell's Cinnamon Challenge.
|وش||wišš||frothy head of a coffee|
|تنوة||tanwa||sludgy dregs of a coffee|
|قرأ الفنجان||ʔara_lfingān||to read (the future in the dregs of) a cup|
I noticed an old man in a coffeehouse chewing spoonfuls of dregs having finished a glass of tea, and asked an Egyptian friend why. I was met with a look of confusion, not at the man's actions but at my question, and only later did I learn that tea dregs are referred to with a different word to coffee dregs. This surprising linguistic richness has managed to both propel and stall my discovery of Egyptian culture.
|تفل||tifl||dregs of tea|
|شاى فتلة||šāy fatla||(lit. string tea) tea made with a teabag|
|شاى كسرى||šāy kušari||tea made with tea-dust or tea-leaves|
|بالنعناع||... bi-lnaʕnāʕ||... with mint|
The variety of tea made with tea-dust is thus named because the bits of tea resemble the mess of a bowl of كشرى | kušari, a carb overload of noodles, rice, macaroni, black lentils and chickpeas with a dollop of tangy tomato sauce and fried onions. (The dish probably has its origins in a similar Indian dish called "khichri", which British colonialists then spread to various parts of the world. It managed to evolve into kedgeree back in Britain, so I guess only the Egyptians can be blamed for its disastrous manifestation here.)