It’s winter. I don’t have to remind people about it since it is one of the coldest winters we’ve ever witnessed. I love everything about this season, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about winter (besides the bone-drilling cold) is our brass brazier.
I doubt I have any winter memory: an evening we spent, an episode that occurred, even food or drinks.. that happened without our faithful Brazier as a witness.
It always provided our home with warmth. I still don’t know why, but no other means of heating is as efficient! Even our neighbors, whenever they came for their daily visit, used to book their spot near it in advance “hayda ma7alli”, and if by chance they came and we still haven’t placed it, there would be a lot of complaints.
Let me explain to you the science of a good warm brazier: its contents are divided into 3 or 4 layers depending on the need.
If it is for a short period of time, we need three layers: the “Safweh” or ashes, that is used to hold the hot material. It acts as an insulator and also serves to cover the coal to preserve it for a longer period of time. “Temmi l narat” or cover the ashes is a very common phrase we shout to whomever was closest to the brazier.
The second layer is the “De2” . Now THAT is difficult to explain in English! but here’s the best I can do: The Do2 or Dok, is made from the residual waste of olive juicers. It is mainly the solid part inside smashed into small pieces and burnt just a bit. They have a black color and offer a lot of heat when burnt without the odors of the coal. These are very useful when the brazier is used to prepare food: grilling “Kastana” (Chestnut), or a cheese sandwich.. It is even said that the coffee prepared on coal is tastier than anywhere else!To ignite the Dok, you only need a small amount of burning Coal..
Which brings us to the third and most important layer: “el narat” or burning Coals. The coals are carefully selected in order not to get a “3rrada” (a piece of coal that produces a bad smell when burnt), then placed in a special container “Al she3aleh” on the fire to be ignited. Once ready, they are placed on top of the “Do2” to ignite it too.
If the evening is long, and there is a need for a renewal of warmth, the forth layer is a few extra coals buried beneath the ashes. When needed, and just before the brazier loses all its heat, you dig them out, and they re-burn as hot as you need them. An extra amount of Do2 can be added as well…
I know it might be boring, but this is not the point. I think that our old brass brazier is the most important ritual of our winter. All I wanted was to document that. The feelings I can only describe, but trust me nothing can be as warm as sitting in front of it, your legs close to it, with a hot drink warming up your hand.
Care to give it a try?