Morocco – Black, White & Fig

Fun with Fezzes

While it may not be the most stylish headpiece ever adorned, the fez hat is a symbol of Moroccan nationalism, worn to protest French occupation. Hell, even the royal court of Morocco wears the fez, the only Arab nation to do so. Despite all that, today, the fez is seen by some as politically incorrect and viewed with negative connotations. Let’s take a closer look at this polarizing piece of headgear:

Originally called a ‘tarboosh,’ which roughly translated means head cover, this hat dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. It is typically made using red felt with a tassel attached to the top of the cap. When a number of Arab monarchies were overthrown following World War I, the fez was made illegal by the new rulers and those who dared to wear them had their asses tossed in jail.

Fez Cat

The city of Fes, Morocco was actually quite important to the hat’s existence, as it produced the colouring agent, using crimson berries, to turn the hat red. It was the only place that had access to this hue before artificial dyes were later manufactured. Today, the city is known as the ‘Mecca of the West’ and the ‘Athens of Africa’ and not much is mentioned about the hats any longer.

The decline of the fez put it amongst other headdresses that may only be worn for events such as weddings, funerals, or invitations to the royal palace. Many of the male employees at restaurants and hotels in Morocco don the cap to give tourists a little thrill and a trip back through history. You may even get the chance to wear one and snap a few photos, but it will likely set you back a little in the realm of tip money.

If you’d like to have your very own fez, they can be found online. Most sell for under $20 and come in a variety of colour schemes, but ones involving higher quality materials or with some historical value will set you back a little more, in the $100-$150 range. They can also be imported directly from Morocco, adding some legitimacy to the accessory.

Fez Pot

Today, the fez is most commonly recognized as being worn by members of the Shriners men’s fraternity. Despite wearing the fez, the group is not associated with Arabic or Islamic culture and is more in line with Masonry. The group can often be seen participating in parades, while driving around in miniature cars, and also advocating for their Shriners Hospitals for Children, across North America. Members have included presidents and other high-profile politicians, star athletes, musicians, and other notable celebrities.

Others who have worn the hat include: Aladdin and Abu; Moroccan Mole, sidekick to Secret Squirrel in the 1960’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon; Sallah, from the Indiana Jones films; Magician Tommy Cooper; one of the many Doctor Who incarnations; and a number of Disney Theme Parks characters, particularly at the Tokyo and Hong Kong sites. Steely Dan even recorded a song titled Fez for their 1976 The Royal Scam album.

The term FES has also gone on to stand for Foreign Exchange Student, most famously portrayed by the character of that name on That 70’s Show. We never learn Fez’s real name, as the other characters state it’s too hard to pronounce. All we learn is that the first five K’s are silent and his name is made up solely of vowels (which seems to contradict those silent K’s). We also never learn where exactly the character is from and both that mystery and his real name are running gags throughout the series.

Morocco: Black, White & Fig

Black, White & Fig Martini

  • Rim glass with Pepper and Sugar
  • Muddle Apple Slices and Pepper
  • 1 oz Mahia
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Apple and Lime Slice

I personally believe that I would look quite fetching in a fez hat. While it would be similar to a smoking cap, I’d use it solely for getting blitzed and dancing around , preferably with a monkey assistant. I know that sounds like a hundred bad stereotypes, but that’s just how we roll at the Sip Advisor offices!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Mahia is an interesting spirit in that it’s Fig-based. It has a unique taste that I simply can’t place. Mrs. Sip and I both really enjoyed the Pepper & Sugar Rim and it added an different taste to the cocktail that didn’t overpower. For the citrus portion of the martini, you have the option of Lime Juice or Grapefruit Juice. I went with a splash of both because I like my sweet and sour.

Advertisements

Morocco – Night in Casablanca

Lights, Camera, Action

If we’re being honest, for some people, the only exposure they have to Morocco is through the classic film Casablanca. Ironically, not a single scene of the movie was filmed on location in the city for which it’s named. Morocco, however, has become a popular destination for some of the world’s greatest directors and stars. These popular productions share Morocco as a location, despite rarely being set in the African country:

Game of Thrones

The immensely popular HBO TV series has filmed scenes around the world and that includes Morocco (Ait Benhaddou and Essaouira), which has provided the setting for the cities of Yunkai, Astapor, and Essos. This is where Daenerys Targaryen travels in season three to build her army. Morocco was also used in the pilot episode of the series and can perhaps take a little credit in the massive success of the show… but probably not the copious amount of sex, nudity, murder, and other misdeeds.

game-of-thrones-naked

Lawrence of Arabia

This cinematic gem was originally pegged to be filmed entirely in Jordan, but added other locales during production. Ouarzazate, Morocco doubled for the Syrian town of Tafas (site of the Tafas massacre), with Moroccan armed forces subbing in for the Turkish army. Apparently filming was problematic because of the unaccommodating soldiers. In the end, all Arab countries (except for Egypt) banned the movie due to its portrayal of Arabian culture.

The Mummy & The Mummy Returns

While four days was about all the Sip Advisor needed in Marrakesh, the first Mummy production stayed for 17 weeks. Kidnapping insurance was taken out on each of the movie’s stars, who weren’t told of this until shooting had wrapped. The sequel only used the Erg Chebbi Dunes as its “Egyptian” desert. For some reason, Morocco wasn’t used for The Scorpion King prequel to the franchise, nor the third film in the trilogy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, although that story was based out of China.

Inception

The Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio thriller featured a couple scenes filmed in Morocco, most notably the exciting chase scene set in the narrow alleys of the Tangier, Morocco medina. It also served as the place where Dominick Cobb adds con artist Eames and chemist Yusef to his team, prior to the dash. Finally, it is the setting for the riot images, as Cobb infiltrates Japanese businessman Saito’s mind at the start of the film.

inception-explained

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Another Alfred Hitchcock-Jimmy Stewart collaboration which sees an innocent family become embroiled in an international assassination plot, with their son even being kidnapped. The opening scenes of the film, including the murder of a French intelligence operative, are all filmed in Marrakesh, where Stewart and family are vacationing. This movie (murder, kidnapping, and assassination plots, oh my) provided the basis of what I expected from Morocco!

Gladiator

While this Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe epic is set in the Roman Empire, a large chunk of the movie was actually filmed in Ouarzazate, Morocco (which Mrs. Sip and I visited). This Berber city provided the location for Maximus’ gladiator training, early slave life, and scenes traversing the desert. A mud brick stadium for the battle sequences was built using local techniques. I guess that’s all fair enough, given the Roman Empire did extend into Africa.

gladiator-like-life

Othello

One of the first foreign productions to capitalize on Morocco as a filming destination, this Orson Welles adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy ran into a number of logistical issues, resulting in using some unique filming techniques. This included a battle sequence was first filmed in Morocco, but finished while on location in Rome a few months later. When the film won the Palme d’or at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival, it was recognized as a Moroccan creation.

Prince of Persia

While perhaps not on the same level as the other films listed in this article, I have to mention this one, because Mrs. Sip and I were inside one of the Berber homes used during a battle scene of the movie. In fact, the production spent eight weeks in Morocco, which isn’t a huge surprise given the movie largely takes place in the desert. Hell, the movie’s subtitle is The Sands of Time… Morocco was an obvious choice for filming.

Morocco: Night in Casablanca

Night in Casablanca Cocktail

  • 2 oz Mahia
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Bourbon
  • Dash of Peychauds Bitters
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wheel

Of course, not every movie made in Morocco is a classic… after all, Sex and the City 2 filmed there. Given it was hard for our crew to find cocktails around the country, I wonder how easily the girls were able to locate their favoured Cosmopolitans!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was pretty strong, but the ingredients come together well. The Sugar Cube really helps even out the drink. Mahia is an interesting spirit and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. I’ll have to give it another shot and see how it works out with different bed fellows…