In a word – no!

Sarajevo's weapon of choice
Sarajevo’s weapon of choice

I was having a chat at a good friend’s place the other day when he offered me a cup of coffee. I declined, having already driven caffeine into my system with a powerful long black in one of my city haunts earlier that morning. “No,” he said, wagging his finger and shaking his head in a persuasive Latin manner. And that’s all he had to say.

I stopped talking. That beautifully expressed word, no, had been emphasised with a curling of the lips, and a severe drawing together of the eyebrows. One little word accompanied by a deliciously inherent body language instantly delivered passion and confidence. And it was so utterly persuasive that I’d made up my mind, or should I say my mind was made up for me, that I’d have his cup of coffee no matter what.

That what turned out to be a new experience. My friend proceeded to perform a well practised ritual with a small, long handled, heavy copper pan. Filling it with water and bringing it to the boil, he heaped spoonful after spoonful of richly aromatic, freshly ground coffee into the pan as my taste buds quivered in anticipation. The water turned into an almost black sludge which, after being allowed to settle momentarily, was poured into cups.

He won't know what hit him
He won’t know what hit him

I peered into the thick, murky gunk. It smelt incredibly strong. Waiting for it to cool, I gestured at the unusual pan.

“It comes from Sarajevo,” my friend said. “Every house would have one, for making coffee and beating the husband over the head when he came home late and drunk.”

I quickly glanced at him. His face, half buried in his cup, displayed no irony and not the slightest trace of humour. Knowing him reasonably well, I continued to stare until he looked up and I could see the mirth in his eyes. I thought of making a comment, punning on his dead-pan delivery, but the moment passed.

The coffee? It was probably one of the strongest coffees I’d ever experienced, and I resolved, wide-eyed and still very awake at 3am the following morning, not to make it my second brew of the day ever again. And the pan? I felt its weight and substance and can confirm that it would make a formidable domestic weapon, and that the men of Sarajevo would be well advised to be home in time for dinner, and reasonably sober to boot. At such times actions speak louder than words.

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