Just a few more posts before the end of 2015—this one is composed of a little visit to an argan co-operative outside of Essaouira, where women chatted cheerfully over the pounding of argan nuts on stones. The Argania spinosa tree is indigenous to Morocco, and the oil that is produced from its nuts is believed to have all sorts of marvellous properties, from being a wrinkle-fighter to lowering hypertension and inflammation.
The process of extracting this fine oil is particularly interesting: argan fruit is first nibbled by nimble goats who climb the branches of the spiny trees (it's true, they get way up there!), and after the hard nuts are excreted, they are gathered up and cracked between stones (as seen above) to get at the seed. The seeds are roasted and ground into a paste from which the oil is squeezed.
After sampling the oil in the co-op's shop, I was hooked. Maybe it had at some point passed through a goat (although nowadays this process is sometimes skipped), but I didn't mind— the intense, smooth nutty flavour made me swoon. Now I don't know if it will soothe my joints or give me the skin of a twenty-year-old again, but I bought a few bottles to sprinkle on salads and veggies.
If you happen to spot a bottle of argan oil around, give it a try— the culinary oil is yummy, and the cosmetic oil is super moisturizing (I've also been trying a rose-scented argan oil face cream)!