Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

Israel – Bloodbath

Pilgrimage & Play

Israel has the greatest number of museums per capita in the world. Therefore, it should be no surprise, especially given the country’s religious and historical significance, that many travelers are willing to risk their own security to visit the nation. Let’s take a look at some of those important religious tourism sites:

Western Wall

Also known as the ‘Wailing Wall,’ this location is recognized as one of the most sacred sites to Jewish people and is a favourite pilgrimage spot. It is commonly believed to have been built by Herod the Great, although the project was not finished during his lifetime. Visitors have been known to stuff papers, containing their prayers, into cracks the have developed in the structure. Conflicts between Muslims and Jews occurred frequently at the Western Wall, with both groups laying claim to the fortification. The wall was also the site of a major zombie attack in the film World War Z.

Western Wall

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is located next to the Western Wall, and no, it’s not a temple dedicated to wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson. It is one of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture and has a reputation of being one of the most recognizable sites in Jerusalem and Israel. The shrine’s centerpiece, the Foundation Stone, holds great significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Also known as the Well of Souls, Jews believe it to be the link between Heaven and Earth and typically face it while praying.

Masada

Translated into English, Masada means “fortress” and it was the site of numerous clashes throughout history. It is thought to be the first site that Herod the Great fortified. Masada has become one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions, seen by the citizens of Israel as a symbol of resistance and holding religious significance, as a result. Masada became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and today, visitors can hike up one of two trails (the Snake Trail and the Roman Ramp) or simply ride a cable car to the peak. There’s also an audio-visual lightshow presented each night.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Located within the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, this is the spot where Jesus was said to have been crucified, as well as where he was thought to have been buried. Therefore, it is also where Jesus’ resurrection would have occurred. All of these assumptions make the Church of the Holy Sepulchre a popular pilgrimage site for Christians. Among the church’s treasures are the Stone of Anointing, the Rock of Cavalry, the Aedicule, the Cross of Golgotha, the Prison of Christ, and the Altar of the Crucifiction.

jesus_resurrection

Sea of Galilee

Israel’s largest freshwater lake is said to be the sight of many of Jesus’ miracles, including walking on water, calming the storm, the boatload of fish, and feeding 5,000 people. The Sea of Galilee is also where Jesus recruited at least four of his disciples (Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, John the Apostle, and Saint James the Great) and conducted his Sermon on the Mount. Tourism along the shores today is largely made up of Christian pilgrims, who can walk along the 40-mile ‘Jesus Trail,’ which was opened by the Israeli government in 2011.

The Dead Sea

One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, the Dead Sea gets its name because animals and other life forms can’t thrive in the area. The Dead Sea Scrolls, made up of 981 religious texts were discovered here in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Israelites were said to have lived in caves near the Dead Sea during biblical times and King David used the Dead Sea for sanctuary. Herod the Great turned the Dead Sea into one of the world’s first health resorts and to this day, the sea’s water is used for a number of different therapies, including psoriasis (skin disorder), rhinosinusitis (nasal condition), and osteoarthritis (knee ailment).

Israel: Bloodbath

Bloodbath Wine Cocktail

Other popular attractions include Yad Vashem (Israel’s official memorial for Holocaust victims), The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, along with all those museums located around the country. I’ve never really been too hot on the prospect of travelling to Israel and while writing this article didn’t convert me, it does give me pause to think about the possibility.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail looked like a neat one to try and I suppose the name also goes well with the subject matter of this article given all the blood that has been spilled in the name of religion in and around Israel. This drink was really good… I’m talking great even. That Cranberry-Lemonade mix I’ve been using the last few months is a real gem. Most interesting about the wines from Israel is that many of them are kept kosher and can only be handled by observant Jews, while not including certain ingredients.

November 22 – Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Reunification

Earlier this year, the online world became abuzz, when a poster was released, teasing a Friends reunion for this Thanksgiving. It turned out to all be a hoax, but that got me thinking of shows where I’d love to see a reunion episode or some other gathering of the cast/characters, injecting new life into the stories many of us grew up on. Here is the cream of the crop of those I’d love to see one more time!

#5: Recess

Perhaps in a similar vein to All Grown Up, the Rugrats re-launch, it would be great to find out whatever happened to the Recess kids – T.J. Detweiler, Vince LaSalle, Ashley Spinelli, Gretchen Grundler, Mikey Blumberg, and Gus Griswald – and where they lives led after their fourth grade adventures at Third Street Elementary School. Did any of the kids ever hook-up (my bet’s on Mikey and Gus!)? The new story could be set in any time period, whether it be high school, college, adulthood, old age, etc. If a more adult network took the reins of the show, instead of Disney, we might get some very interesting and scandalous (thank you The Ashley’s) stories!

Recess Grown Up

#4: That 70’s Show

When we last left Point Place, Wisconsin, the 1970’s rolled over into a new decade. Therefore, the most pressing question to be answered, is how did the gang find life in the 80’s? Hell, for that matter, how did their 90’s and 2000’s go? I guess you can’t go too far ahead or you might lose the participation of the parents, Red, Kitty, and Bob, which would be too bad. I’d love to find out if Eric and Donna finally managed to stay together. What about Hyde, Kelso, Fez, and Jackie? What became of Kelso’s child? Was he as dumb as dear ol’ dad!? These are the kinds of questions that keep the Sip Advisor up at night… it’s tough being me!

#3: Full House

The Tanner clan was sent off into the television abyss with the show’s typical nice, neat wrap up. Since then, a lot has changed for the cast and would make for some crazy storylines, should there ever be a reunion episode. Would they incorporate Jodie Sweeten’s real-life meth addiction into the storyline ala the classic “On a very special episode…” trope. How would they handle Bob Saget’s departure from the squeaky clean image that made him neat freak single father Danny Tanner, as well as host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. And you just know there’s some juicy yarns out there, should the Olsen twins elect to participate.

Full House Reunion

#2: Cheers

There was the odd mini-reunion on the Cheers spinoff, Frasier (which would also be a decent series for a reunion), but I’d love to see everyone all together again at the classic bar set, enjoying a mug of fine brew and reconnecting. With Cheers being such an ensemble cast, many of which have gone on to thriving careers, it may be hard to get them all back onto the same page, but at least you know Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin would be present, as their butts have been stapled to those bar stools since the series finale in 1993. You’d have to imagine that at least one of the bar regulars would now be suffering from cirrhosis, but it should make for good viewing!

#1: Saved by the Bell

As a child of the 80’s and early 90’s, you could never say that you didn’t have at least some fondness for this show. While we got a decent finale with the wedding in Vegas movie, a whole generation thirsts for more. Did Zack and Kelly survive to rigors of getting married young? How about the kids that surely came along (I mean, who wouldn’t want to tap the former Miss Kapowski!?). If they did relaunch this series, they could do something similar to what Boy Meets World did, where they brought back Cory and Topanga as parents to a teenage girl. Jimmy Fallon (among others) tried to get the whole crew back together, but all efforts have failed thus far.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Shot

  • 0.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Sadly, the TV reunion just isn’t done as much anymore, compared to the past where shows like Gilligan’s Island, The Andy Griffith Show, and even Growing Pains all got together again to update viewers on the status of their favourite characters. And that’s all too bad, as there are so many series I’d love to see a follow-up from. Honourable mentions go to basically any TGIF show and let’s throw Beavis and Butt-head in there, as well, just to irritate Mrs. Sip!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I chose this shot to go with this article because it (the cake) seemed like the kind of thing that might be served at an actual family reunion. As you can see by the measurements, there’s very little booze in this shooter, so you’re basically just getting Pineapple Juice and Grenadine. My suggestion is to up the alcohol and have some real fun!

Hungary – My Cherry Baby

Cube Compulsion

The Sip Advisor gets easily frustrated by toys like the Rubik’s Cube. I suppose there are some things my massive intellect just can’t solve… and I’m at peace with that fact. Let’s take a closer look at this popular toy, invented by Hungarian Erno Rubik:

The Rubik’s Cube (originally called the Magic Cube, before it was released worldwide in 1980) was created in 1974, as a way for Rubik to help explain three-dimensional geometry. At the time, Rubik was only 29 years old, but was already a sculptor and architecture professor. When Rubik’s had created his cube, it took him a month to solve for the first time. Later, Rubik could solve his own puzzle in under a minute, which he showed off at trade shows.

Rubiks Cube Solved

More than 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold around the world and thanks to these sales, it is the best-selling toy of all-time. After its international release, it won Toy of the Year honours in 1980 and again in 1981. The popularity of the toy bred the first annual International Rubik’s Championships in 1982, which was won by Minh Thai of the U.S. with a time of 22.95 seconds. A World Cube Association was created in 2004 to govern international competitions and chart world records.

The Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less, regardless of how it’s mixed up. This has created an entire sub-genre of speed cubers. These folks can solve the Rubik’s puzzle in under six seconds. All this, despite the fact that the toy has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 (into the quintillions) possible patterns. A guide to solving the Rubik’s Cube was created by a 12-year-old, Patrick Bossert of England, in 1981 and went on to become a best-seller, with 1.5 million copies sold.

The world record for fastest completion to the Rubik’s Cube is held by Mats Valk of the Netherlands. He solved the puzzle in 5.55 seconds, beating the previous best time of 5.66 seconds. A smartphone-powered Lego robot, known by the name CubeStormer 3, solved a Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds, blowing away all the competition. These are the robots who will one day take over the world, pissed that they were made to endlessly solve puzzles.

Rubiks Cube Hard

Within the world of speed cubing, there are those not happy to simply solve the puzzle quickly. Some competitors take things to whole new levels of insanity, like one guy who did one-handed push-ups, while only taking 25 seconds to complete the challenge. Another fella solved the Rubik’s Cube in 23.80 seconds… while blindfolded! Perhaps most intimidating is the three-year-old Chinese toddler who was done with the toy in under two minutes.

You just knew a toy like this would have entries in the smallest, largest, and most expensive categories. The smallest is 1omm wide and was designed by Evgeniy Grigoriev of Russia. The largest can be found in Knoxville, Tennessee and measures three metres tall, weighing in at over 500kg. As for most expensive, it was created by Diamond Cutters International in 1995. Dubbed the ‘Masterpiece Cube,’ it features amethyst, rubies, and emeralds, all set in gold and valued at $1.5 million.

If you simply can’t put the device down, you may be a Cubaholic (and that doesn’t mean you like taking frequent trips to Cuba or chain-smoking fine cigars). A documentary, titled Cubers, was released in 2008 and followed the lives of some of those afflicted with the compulsion as well as those competing for the title of World Rubik’s Cube Champion.

Rubiks Cube Bra

The Rubik’s Cube has been featured in numerous areas of popular culture, including: movies, TV shows, comics, music videos, songs, art, and museum exhibits. Seeking to take advantage of the toy’s popularity, a Saturday morning cartoon debuted in 1983, called ‘Rubik, The Amazing Cube’ and featured a sentient Rubik’s Cube, who could come to the aid of a Hispanic family. It only lasted one season and 18 episodes and starred Ron Palillo (aka Arnold Horshack) as the titular toy.

On the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, earlier this year, the toy was featured as part of the daily Google Doodle, as a playable interactive puzzle. It’s only fitting to end this piece with some words from the inventor himself: “If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.”

Hungary: My Cherry Baby

My Cherry Baby Cocktail

  • Muddle Cherries
  • 0.75 oz Palinka (Cherry)
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Top with Champagne
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Thanks to working on this article, I’m adding “Solve a Rubik’s Cube” to my lifetime bucket list and it may eventually be what does me in (despite the current odds favourite in Vegas being alcohol-induced bungee accident), but I will achieve this feat!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was just too sweet… and not in the New World Order wrestling way. The flavours were nice, but some changes need to be made to the recipe to make it a little more likable and evened out.

Hungary – Breakfast at the Bar

Scourge of God

While Attila the Hun’s empire stretched across much of what is now Europe, he is greatly associated with the people of Hungary, thanks to the Hungarian Royal Court laying claim to him as their own ancestor. Let’s take a look at this brutal legend and sort the fact from the fiction:

Attila wasn’t a big dude (perhaps for his time he was), despite how he’s depicted in modern media as a hulking brute. His tale of the tape stated that Attila was only 5’6” and 145 lbs. When Rugila (king of the Huns) died, he left the Hunnic Empire to his nephews, Attila and Breda. Eventually, Attila tired of sharing the kingdom with his brother and had him killed. Attila ruled from 434 AD to 453 AD and was a terror to both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

Attila Inspired

Nobody knows exactly what Attila the Hun looked like, although he’s often depicted in his leather armor and with rough facial features and disheveled hair. Scholars debate over whether Attila would have had European features (like a Viking) or Asian characteristics (like a Mongolian). Although viewed and depicted as a cruel and ruthless leader, Attila was said to also possess great diplomatic skills.

Attila picked up a number of not-so-kind nicknames and credits during his lifetime and centuries later, as historians examined his reign of terror. He was known as the ‘Scourge of God,’ but that’s a title he actually gave himself. The History Channels ‘Ancients Behaving Badly’ named Attila ‘history’s first great terrorist’ and ranked him as history’s greatest psychopath. Count Dracula (in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) went so far to claim to be a descendant of the warrior, perhaps explaining his own bloodlust.

Despite his status as a legendary conqueror and barbarian, Attila died of a common nosebleed, choking on the blood. Researchers have thought that other factors contributed to his demise, such as alcoholism, which caused a rupture in his esophagus and death from internal bleeding. Attila’s death occurred on the same day as his marriage to the princess, Ildico, and therefore, poisoning has often been speculated as a cause of death.

Attila Death

Attila’s burial was shrouded in secrecy, with all those who witnessed the interment being executed. He may have been buried under part of the Tisza River (with the waters temporarily diverted) in a tomb of gold, silver, and iron. Although Attila was succeeded by his son, Ellac, his other children began fighting over Hun territory and the empire was divided, causing the Hun legacy to dissipate.

There have been TV mini-series and movies based off Attila and he has made appearances or been referenced in many other projects. In the Night at the Museum movies, he is portrayed as being simply misunderstood and in need of help. In an episode of Married with Children, he lines up on the devil’s football team to battle Al Bundy, with Bundy’s chance to return to earth up for grabs.

Attila has been used in many other forms of media, including as an occasional adversary to Hagar the Horrible in comics; as part of a planned, but never completed opera by Beethoven; as a hero and villain in various video games; and as a political euphemism, to describe an extreme conservative. McFarlane Toys even released an action figure of the iconic thug, as part of the series, ‘McFarlane’s Monsters III: 6 Faces of Madness.’

Attila Personal Trainer

On Spike TV’s ‘Deadliest Warrior,’ a show which takes historical figures and armies and matches them against each other to see who would win based on weaponry and battle tactics, Attila was matched up against Alexander the Great and defeated the legendary ruler. Attila’s weapons consisted of the Sword of Mars, the Lasso, the Hunnic Bow, and the Scythian Axe and his combat skills while riding horseback are thought to have largely secured the victory.

The oddest tribute came from Calypso musician Raymond Quevedo, who for whatever reason, chose to adopt the Attila the Hun moniker for his recording career. Instead of massacring tribes across Europe, Quevedo turned his artistry into entering the political realm in his home of Trinidad and Tobago. The real Attila the Hun and his exploits were even turned into a pinball machine, released in 1984… I love me some mass-murderer gaming action.

Hungary: Breakfast at the Bar

Breakfast at the Bar Martini

  • Muddle Marmalade
  • 1.25 oz Palinka (Apricot)
  • 0.75 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice and Orange Wedge

The Sip Advisor has yet to travel to Hungary, but in Budapest alone, there are 10 different streets named after Attila. This proves that all you need to do is be a total dick during your life and you’ll be remembered and honoured forever!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a very good cocktail, offering my first chance to use Marmalade in a drink. It added a unique tangy orange flavour that was very much welcomed. I used a Lemon Slice, as well as an Orange Wedge to add some extra flavour, as well as presentation to the recipe.

November 15 – Neon Ghost

What Not to Wear

The Sip Advisor would never call himself a fashionista, but I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in my time and have even worn some of them, myself. Here are some of the best and worst attire and accessory fads that the Sip Advisor can hang his head in shame for having adorned at one time or another… okay, it was just yesterday, but who’s counting!?

#5: No Fear T-Shirts

I don’t feel so bad about these inspirational shirts, which were especially big among anyone who played youth sports. Mrs. Sip likes to tell the tale of wearing baggy No Fear tops in grade school, long before she became an internationally adored mama cita! No Fear even released an energy drink at one point, but sadly, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2011. For playing an important role in the lives of many of the Sip Advisor’s peers, we tip our hat and recite the many positive apparel mottos.

No Fear shirts

#4: Starter Jackets

Sure, you could wear a normal jacket, perhaps even supporting your favourite local sports team, but if it wasn’t made by Starter, you just weren’t rocking the coolest athletic fashion of the time. There was even a ton of robberies of the jackets as their status symbol prominence rose. These jackets were puffy, thanks to the pouch at the front and made wearers look overly bulky. They would be perfect for smuggling flasks and other booze nowadays, so perhaps the company was on to something!

#3: Tear-Away Pants

The problem with Tear-Away pants (which buttoned up on the sides of the legs) is that people kept trying to rip them off each other, necessitating wearing shorts underneath, which kind of defeated the whole purpose. Girls stopped wearing them entirely, for fear of being exposed by some testosterone raging teen. You can still see tear-away pants, usually being rocked by male strippers, who have very little time to get their junk out in the open before lonely women can ravage them.

tear away pants

#2: Belly Bags/Fanny Packs

These pouches allowed users to tuck away (seriously, why were we so obsessed with attire that allowed having places to put our possessions in, during the 90’s?) an array of items, including wallets, sunglasses, medications, etc. They were like unisex purses and really came in handy while travelling. Problem was, they gave you an artificial gut, which didn’t look so attractive. Hilariously, the packs were called Bum Bags in the U.K., because the term fanny opens up a whole new can of worms.

#1: Neon Clothing

Oh man, there are some classic photos of the Sip Advisor and Broski Sip wearing bright neon wares… I’m sure everyone who lived through the early 90’s has at least one picture where they’re decked out in the most hideous of colours. Why were we so into such a horrible palate of hues? Anyone from that time who has vision problems today should be blaming neon clothes and not the popularity of computers. Neon colours should be strictly confined to cocktail and shot recipes… speaking of which!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Neon Ghost

Neon Ghost Shot

I’d like to think of my style as ‘lazy classy,’ but Mrs. Sip might not agree. Which clothing fads do you regret sporting? The Sip Advisor is always open for some reminiscing, so drop me a line anytime!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Thanks to using Stoli Salted Karamel Vodka, this turned into a banana flambe flavoured drink, with notes of caramel at the end of the banana shooter. All those neon colours had me feeling nostalgic and the whole experience was very enjoyable.

Belgium – Moon Drops

Comic Creations

While Get Fuzzy is the Sip Advisor’s favourite comic and he doesn’t stray too far from that strip (although he loves him the occasional Garfield story), Belgium is known for a few animated legends that have recently been turned into feature film franchises. Let’s take a closer look at these works:

The Adventures of Tintin

First published in 1929, Tintin was created by the artist simply known as Hergé (real name Georges Remi) as part of a newspaper supplement. Tintin books have gone on to become big business, selling more than 350 million copies in over 80 different languages. The character is often described as a native son of Belgium, which is pretty good praise for someone whose best friends are a dog and an oft-drunk sea captain.

Have you ever wondered where the name Tintin came from? The character’s first name is actually Martin and Tintin is a common nickname for people named Martin in French-speaking countries. His dog Snowy is actually called Milou in the French comics, while the detective duo of Thompson and Thomson are named Dupont and Dupond.

Tintin Age

Tintin, a teenage journalist and detective, has travelled the world and even beyond it. He’s had adventures in the Congo, the Soviet Union, China, and even on the moon. If you wish to keep up with his globetrotting, you may be out of luck. Some of the regions he’s visited are completely made up, such as Khemed, Borduria, Syldavia, and Nuevo Rico.

The 2011 film release, involving movie moguls Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, sees Hergé actually appear in the opening scene as the street artist. A Tintin theatrical release had been in the works since the 1980’s, when Spielberg first crafted a script for the Belgian icon. There has also been a Tintin TV cartoon (the Sip Advisor’s first introduction to Tintin adventures), BBC radio show, two French live-action films, stage shows, and publicity stunts.

Belgium Balls

The Smurfs

Created in 1958 by artist Peyo (what’s with all these Belgian comic creators going by a singular name), also known as Pierre Culliford, the Smurfs are branded as Les Schtroumpfs, in French. Peyo came up with the word ‘schtroumpfs’ when he forgot the word for salt at a dinner party and made something up on the spot. Smurf is simply the Dutch translation of the word.

The Smurfs, thanks to their North American TV cartoon, become a pop culture hit in the 1980’s (Smurfmania had already hit the U.K. in the 70’s), spawning their own cereal (including a commercial starring a 13-year-old Jack Black), video games, songs, dance craze, theme park attractions, Ice Capades show, and, of course, lines of toys and other merchandise that kids just had to have.

bring-me-a-smurf

In the beginning, there was only 99 Smurf characters, but that number has risen over the years. Despite the growth in population, there are only three female Smurfs: Smurfette, Sassette, and Nanny Smurf… talk about a sausage party! Some Smurfs from the original comics never made the crossover to TV and film. These characters include Alchemist Smurf, Timid Smurf, Enamored Smurf, Finance Smurf, Lumberjack Smurf, and Navigator Smurf.

The Smurfs helped create modern zombies, thanks to a 1959 comic called ‘The Black Smurfs’ (‘The Purple Smurfs’ in North America). The story was about a Smurf being bitten by an insect, before going around and biting other Smurfs, turning them into aggressive, living-dead beings. This comic was released years before George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and featured the birth of Grouchy Smurf, the patient zero who never regained his full Smurf senses following the outbreak.

Belgium: Moon Drops

Moon Drops Cocktail

Belgium has been dubbed ‘Home of the Comic Strip’ and these panels are considered to be an important part of Belgian life. Next time the Sip Advisor is visiting, he will certainly sit down with a Tintin or Smurfs anthology and give it a read. Some Belgian beer will help with the language barrier!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was simple, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The drops of Sherry floated on top of the drink, gave the brew a unique taste and made it look neat with that hazy red colour. Stella is a clean, crisp and easy to drink beer.