Think of movies and most know Morocco for the famous Hollywood film Casablanca, even though in that case production never left the Los Angeles studios! But since then there have been 100s of movies made locally and Intrepid’s Summer Davis explains how Intrepid travellers get to dine with a Moroccan film ‘star’…
“In a small mud brick house on the wadi bank opposite Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, lights and laughter warm the cool interior. Joking his way through a cooking demonstration, Hussein Boulkil enlivens the onlookers intently learning to cook couscous and tagine. A self-proclaimed actor, Hussein has been an extra in 14 movies filmed in Ait Benhaddou and ‘met’ such prestigious actors as Harrison Ford, Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt.
Hussein’s credits include Gladiator, The Mummy and Babel (although you can’t see him here). He prefers to go by his screen name, ‘Action CC’.
Seven vegetables, six spices then two hours and forty-five minutes for couscous, Action explains in broken English, methodically naming and displaying the ingredients while his sister cuts, stirs and displays in time with his monologue. Speaking no English, she repeats “welcome” at least three times with a big smile.
With the promise of an autograph at the end of the evening, Action usurps his Intrepid guests’ cameras and snaps away. Them pouring tea, them serving couscous, them eating couscous, and his favourite, the stretched-out-one-armed self portrait of his turbaned face smiling in the foreground, the group perfectly placed in the background.
The call to dinner is a welcome relief from the flurry of photos, kids scurrying about and general mayhem of a house with fifteen inhabitants. On the rooftop terrace under a night full of stars, Action serves homemade harira (Moroccan soup), couscous and Berber bread, completing the scene.
Serene and happy, our group contemplate another magical evening in Morocco over a cup of mint tea. Before rolling off to bed, Action appears for the last laugh, and…..CUT!”
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* photo of Action CC by Cliff Williams – Intrepid Photography Competition