The argan tree and its delicious oil

THE argan tree Argania spinosa only prospers in the Arganeraie, a region covering about 800,000 hectares in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The Arganeraie is under threat from modern agricultural practices as well as being deforested to make way for building sites. In December 1998 this area was recognised as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. It is also a fine example of what the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity achieves. The berries from this tree provide an oil similar to olive oil but with a delicate almond flavour. The argan has always been a basic part of the cuisine of the Berbers, a nomadic people present in North Africa before Arab settlement. The full story of this achievement is recorded in a book, including 33 recipes using argan oil. A link to this book is included here. Tasting this Presidium product is not to be missed when visiting Slow Food’s biennial Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre.

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