Word of the Day / Botz

The drink of Ottoman Sultans is now known in Israel as simply 'black coffee' or, more endearingly, 'mud'.

"Botz," in Hebrew, is mud – the kind that dirties your car and shoes in the rain. Don't be shocked, however, if at the table next to you at a restaurant, someone asks the waiter for mud. Because, in Israel, "mud" is also coffee.

The drink known around the world as "Turkish coffee" bears the attractive moniker of "mud" or "kafe shachor" ("black coffee") in Israel.

The preparation of such coffee is simpler than most: beans are roasted, finely ground, boiled in a simple pot of water and poured into a cup, where the grounds settle to the bottom, forming a "muddy" layer before being drunk, usually without milk, thus "black".

The benefit of this age-old method (first recorded in 15th century Yemen) is that it requires no special tools – perfect for nomadic caravans needing a little pick-me-up while transporting spices across the Negev and Sahara deserts.

Unfortunately, you probably won't find "mud" on the menu at your local gourmet restaurant or trendy cafe. In fact, lots of places turn up their nose at the stuff. So these days, the coffee of Ottoman Sultans tends to be more the territory of blue-collar lunch spots and home kitchens.

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