The story of Slow Food Presidia in Morocco began in 2001 when Zoubida Charrouf, a chemistry professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat, drew Slow Food's attention to argan oil, at the time a little-known product.
Similar to the olive, argan trees grow along the southern coast of Morocco. For centuries, the local women have been passing down the technique for pressing a golden, hazelnut-flavored oil from the argan seeds. The oil is essential in Berber cooking, added to couscous, tajines and crudités, or drizzled over slices of bread. Along with almonds and honey, it is one of the ingredients in amlou beldi, the traditional spread served with bread and mint tea and offered to guests as a sign of welcome.
The Slow Food Foundation began working with the argan cooperatives thanks to the collaboration of Italian experts. The producers were invited to international events, a production protocol was drawn up and training sessions were organized.
From there, Slow Food began to gradually discover the immense heritage of biodiversity in the country known as Al Maghreb, literally "what lies to the west". The second Presidium, for Taliouine saffron, was founded in 2007, followed by one for Alnif cumin in 2009, supported by young members of Slow Food Valdarno in Tuscany.
In 2010, thanks to support from Slow Food Valencia, the Slow Food Foundation launched the Zerradoun Salt Presidium, which involves 30 salt gatherers in northern Morocco (Rif) and draws on the technical advice of Univers Sel, an association of French salt workers.
The next Presidium candidate is the grape syrup known as samet, an essential ingredient in many traditional Moroccan recipes, but there have been many more proposals. This is just the start of a long, fascinating journey.
Discover the Slow Food Presidia in Morocco!
Alnif is located in southeastern Morocco in a bare arid valley at the foot of the eastern Anti-Atlas Mountains. Cumin, along with henna, is one of the most interesting products of the area. The cumin fruit is cut manually from the plant with a sickle (when not completely ripe), gathered into small bunches and left to dry in the shade. The seedlings are then beaten with a stick and stone ground. Cumin is used as an ingredient in tajine, couscous, and soup, and has curative properties for coughs, colds, sinusitis and colic.
Production area: Alnif, eastern Anti-Atlas, southeastern Morocco
tel. +212 666221593
tel. +212 671318238
The argan tree, which resembles that of the olive, grows exclusively on Morocco's southern coast. In Berber culture, women have always been responsible for the production of argan oil, an intense, golden liquid with a hazelnut flavor and a light toasted aroma from the seeds. In the Berber kitchen, a few drops of the oil is added to couscous, tajines and crudités or is eaten alone on a simple piece of bread. Mixed with almonds and honey, argan oil is also used to make amlou beldi, a traditional creamy spread that is offered to visitors a sign of welcome, together with bread and mint tea.
Production area: Agadir, Taroudant, Ait Baha, Essaouira, Chtouka and Tiznit provinces
tel. +212 537775380 - 661372142
In the heart of a barren plateau at the edge of the Argan Forest, Taliouine (in southwest Morocco) is famous for its excellent saffron. Cultivated at an altitude between 1300 and 1500 meters in a very dry zone, Taliouine saffron has a high concentration of safranal (the constituent primarily responsible for saffron's fragrance) and an intense aroma with characteristic floral notes. Entire families work to gather the flowers that grow in small fields dug out of the rocky land, and then continue the processing work in the courtyards of their houses, sipping saffron-flavored tea.
Production area: Taliouine, Taroudant province
Mhamed Id Taleb
tel. +212 672613304
The village of Zerradoun is located in the Rif Mountains in northeastern Morocco. Here the Al Wifak cooperative, comprised of twenty women, extracts various types of salt from a natural source located between two valleys, surrounded by mountains and fields of wheat and barley. The salt pans are at least 200 years old and have dry stone retaining walls. After the salt is collected the women take it by mule to the cooperative's workshop where it is ground or packed in granulated form. The cooperative produces table salt (white or flavored with cumin) and bath salts scented with orange blossom.
Production area: Douar Zerradoun, Brikcha municipality, Ouezzane province, Tangier -Tétuan region
tel. +212 668568235