After my friends left me in Athens – the Fellowship disbanded – my thoughts turned towards nearby Istanbul. I had just spent 3 weeks traveling around Greece with them, two older guys and one younger guy.
The younger guy, of Chinese ancestry, traveled all the way from Singapore and one would think that culturally he was the farthest from home. But as it was, we spoke a common language, one rooted in the culinary appreciation of tobacco.
What! Did I lose you, pilgrim? The Chinese guy, in Athens? (Is that scary?) Or was it the idea that tobacco could be culinary, aka food?
Listen up if you want to learn; listen on.
Tobacco – the non cigarette thing – is not about nicotine, it’s all about flavor. Good tobacco, aged tobacco, summons up all the flavors that a good wine (or whiskey) has. Chocolate, fresh baked bread, cardamon, sweet pastries, you name it.
That’s the attraction.
Aged tobacco has everything in common with other luxury items: like old whiskeys, vintage wines, and aged cheeses. Spoilage, rot, and fermentation provides some of the most awesome flavors (to the most discriminating palates) in the world.
Tobacco, while a new world product, was quickly exported then cultivated around the world to create extraordinary strains and types some 500 years on. And to see them get blended back together into modern tobacco mixes is well, breathtaking.
And to smoke them is to participate in the divine.