Famous Expatriates in Morocco

The city of Tangier in northern Morocco is just a stone’s throw from Europe.  The ferry from Tangier to Spain takes only 30 minutes.  This easy access has made Tangier a veritable expatriate melting pot.  Between 1923-1956, Tangier was an international zone, governed separately from the rest of Morocco by a loose coalition of foreign governments.  The cosmopolitan environment and laissez faire attitude attracted many libertine creatives from Europe and America.

Several prolific American writers have famously called Tangier home, including Paul Bowles and William S. Burroughs.  French painters Eugene Delacroix and Henry Matisse also spent significant time there.  Bowles, in fact, spent the last 52 years of his life in Tangier, and wrote three novels set in Morocco.

delacroix Delacroix’s Fanatics at TangiermatisseMatisse’s Window at Tangier

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Yves Saint Laurent bought the beautiful Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech in 1966, and split the remainder of his life between the adjoining estate and another home in France.  John Paul Getty Jr. and his wife, Talitha hired design visionary, Bill Willis, to revive their run-down Marrakech palace .  Many famous friends came to visit, including the Rolling Stones, to record part of their album, Steel Wheels.

592038_525_380_w British journalist, Jonathan Dawson

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Talitha Getty in Marrakech
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The Getty’s home in MarrakechOB-UR197_mag101_J_20120920214953 Yves Sant Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens

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The Rolling Stones in Morocco in 1964

Morocco’s rich culture of craft and long history of acceptance has fostered a diverse expatriate community.  Countless artists, musicians, designers, and travelers have explored this special land, and many have decided to call it home.

Want to read more about interesting expats in Morocco?

Wall Street Journal – The Magician from Memphis

New York Times – The Last Casbah

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Abdu Hafid

My friend, Phil Murphy, filmed this video of Abdu Hafid, the man who made svinj (Moroccan donuts) just outside of Phil’s house in the Fez Medina. Abdu Hafid explains that he recites verses from the Quran while making his svinj because he hopes to bestow blessings upon anyone who eats them.

Phil is getting his PhD in Ethnomusicology from UCSB, and spent a year in Fez on a Fulbright scholarship, learning Moroccan Arabic as well as traditional Moroccan music. He has a great blog as well, full of beautiful photography and music. Check it out: http://philinfez.tumblr.com/

Mint Lemonade and Mint Tea

Mint, an herb long cultivated across the Middle East and North Africa, is renowned for its cooling and healing properties.  Its modern name came from an ancient Greek myth.  Persephone, the jealous wife of Pluto, transformed the object of her husband’s lust, the lovely young nymph, Minthe into a plant so all could trample her.  Unable to reverse the spell, Pluto instead gave Minthe a pleasant scent that intensified when she was tread on.  The name Minthe eventually evolved into Mint.  The versatile plant was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans in aromatic baths, as a salve for sports injuries, and as an appetite stimulant.  In Rome, Pliny the Elder advised his students to wear wreaths of mint to sharpen their minds, and senators wore mint sprigs in the hope of enhancing their oratory skills and suppressing their tempers.  It has long been known to serve as a digestive aid, as an antiemetic, and as a cough suppressant.  It is refreshing when served cold and soothing when served warm.

Historically, mint is a symbol of hospitality.  The Greeks and Romans would rub mint on banquet tables to greet their guests,  and today, Moroccans are quick to offer a glass of mint tea as a gesture of friendship.

Both mint lemonade and mint tea are widely drunk throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  They are both easy to make, healthy (as long as you are much more conservative with the sugar than they are in the Middle East), and de-licious!

Moroccan Mint Tea:

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Mint Lemonade:

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