For all of you foodies out there I’m sure you’ve heard of a little thread-like spice called saffron. I’m also sure you know that its deep red color and pungent aroma can set you back a few dollars. But, for all you true spice lovers, the benefits definitely outweigh the cost.
What it is
Saffron is a deep red spice that comes from the purple Saffron Crocus, or Crocus Sativus, and is found in many Moroccan food recipes, is used as a dye, and is believed to have medicinal benefits. The spice itself comes from the tiny thread stigmas of the flower which are traditionally hand-picked and then sun-dried to bring out the aromatic flavor. It takes 140 flowers to produce just one gram of saffron which accounts for its high market price, in fact, saffron has been said to be worth its weight in gold, literally!
The most famous place for saffron production in Morocco is in the town of Taliouine which is located at the heart of the Sirwa Mountains between Ouarzazate and Agadir. In ancient times the women of the village would harvest the saffron, a painstaking and time consuming job, from the wild flowers that grew on the mountainside. In the 1960’s the Jews of Taliouine helped finance saffron production and today coops dominate the saffron scene in Taliouine.
Taliouine Saffron Coops
While saffron is available for purchase at any one of the souks throughout Morocco visiting a saffron coop in Taliouine is truly a worthwhile experience. Each coop offers a tour of the village, a history of saffron and the farm, and the opportunity to sample one of the most prized spices in the world. The bulbs of the flowers are planted in September and come to bloom by the end of October transforming the chalky landscape into a sea of purple and green, it truly is a sight to see.