If any aroma were especially associated with
the East it would be that of coffee. In coffeea
journey westwards over the centuries it has
taken many different forms and acquired a unique
symbolic role in the etiquette of hospitality.
Coffee culture has thus become an inextricable
part of social life.
Bitter coffee known as mirra, a word deriving
from the Arabic mur meaning bitter, is a speciality
of the southeastern region of Turkey, above
all of Urfa. Here mirra is an important part
of daily life, and at every step you come across
street vendors carrying samovars of coffee.
If you think of coffee as an ordinary beverage
to be quietly sipped in a corner, then you must
rethink your ideas when it comes to mirra. This
coffee is a ceremonial drink served at formal
social gatherings, at weddings, circumcision
celebrations, on religious feast days, and in
the homes of the bereaved when offering condolences.
Wealthy households in the past employed a coffee
maker whose sole job was to roast, grind and
make coffee for the family and their guests.