Berber town Taliouine holds the magic of saffron, world’s most prized spice

Monday, 12.12.2016

Berber town Taliouine holds the magic of saffron, world's most prized spice

Berber town Taliouine holds the magic of saffron, world's most prized spice

Levant tv Exclusive

Omar Bihmidine
Taliouine, a southern Moroccan town, has long been noted for producing and exporting saffron, the most expensive type of spices in the world. Morocco ranks first in Africa and third in the world in producing this natural plant which boasts incredible health benefits. Different festivities are held in the Amazigh town in honor of the spice and the people sowing, watering and harvesting it. Even though surrounded with mountainous areas, Taliouine is one of the richest agricultural areas. It is only that the infrastructure is shaky and that farmers face much difficulty developing, and investing more, in the golden spice. Among the challenges is the absence of sophistication with regard to the farming machinery.

In the region, saffron is part and parcel of locals’ cuisine and eating habits. A Moroccan tea is flavored with the spice, giving it a brownish colour. Salads, Tagine, and other Amazigh delicacies are also served with saffron. Local villages are full of saffron fields and nearly every home offers the spice as part of a daily healthy intake. You only need to pay the region a visit to learn about how the plant is cultivated, nourished and harvested. Not only is the saffron a symbol of good health but it is also part of the Amazigh culture.

The Saffron Festival, which is held in the mountainous town, features Amazigh music and dancing. As has long been known of Amazigh tribes, they are known for tolerance, hospitality and sharing. They share the precious saffron with guests and tourists and draw their attention to the healing powers of the spice. You can also come across many cooperatives dealing in organic saffron.

Saffron is believed to be worth gold in that it takes nearly 140 flowers of produce one gram of saffron. Also, the effort put into saffron production is time-consuming. In olden times, people had patience to cultivate and harvest it. People relished that a lot. But, now things have changed. As demand is outstripping production, more cooperatives embark on marketing and enriching the saffron fields. The Saffron fields turn purple and green in October, giving the bystanders a transfixing view.

According to history books, dealing in saffron was one of the oldest and historic activities in Morocco. Thanks to the remarkable tolerance of Amazigh tribes, Jewish communities, for their part, took part in purchasing the special saffron in large quantities and selling it during weekly markets. Europe imports handsome amounts of the spice, thanks to its incredible medicinal properties. Even though purchased at lower prices locally, it is sold elsewhere like any other products at a higher price. Yet, those who are aware of the richest spice in the world rarely bargain over its value.

Every Monday, the town holds a market where saffron traders sell their products and draw the tourists’ attention to the benefits of the spice. Locals, for their part, prepare their morning Saffron-flavored tea at cafés before heading to the market. Last November, Talouine hosted the 10th International Saffron Festival. During the festival, the board organized workshops led by saffron cooperatives, Amazigh dancing, and entertaining activities for the aim of improving the saffron sector and ushering in the spice to the world.

Once in town, you should pay a visit to the Saffron museum. It is well worth noting that the Jews considerably contributed to developing the Saffron plant in many ways. Tolerant tribes in the region have long welcomed outsiders and traders from different parts of the world. Now the most prized spice is now permeating the town. The world has now begun to embrace and relish the spice more than ever before, thanks to the incredible health benefits it boasts. Here lies the magic of the most expensive spice in the world.

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