Driving through the desert from Marrakesh to Essaouira, we crossed through a barren landscape. As we got closer to the coast, the landscape became spotted with trees. The land was still barren enough that a young boy standing on the side road didn’t have to move to capture our attention. His hair was bleached from the sun and his skin a deep brown. He looked about six or seven years old. He stood patiently and made no gestures. A large smile took hold of his face when he saw us pull over. He ran up to our car, holding a reused plastic water bottle filled with amber oil with both his hands. A bit of plastic bag was tied around the bottle opening to keep the contents from spillilng. For 25 dirhams we bought a full bottle of pure argan oil. The boy tramped off, excited and relieved, to wherever home was hiding.
Moroccan’s swear by the medicinal properties of argan oil, which is indigenous to Morocco’s Atlas Mountain Region. The oil is loaded with poly-unsaturated fatty acids, such as Tocopherols (Vitamin E), and Omega-6 and Omega- 9 fatty acids, which are known for having restorative and protective properties. It is used in a wide range of skin care products, including soap and hair and skin oil. I bought an argan oil-based product in Morocco on my last visit and it works wonders on my daughter’s curly hair.
Argan oil can also be used for cooking and has a nutty taste and smell. I didn’t perpare food dishes with my bottle of argan oil, but I did taste it. The taste reminded me of a cross between light olive oil and deeply roasted peanuts, which is to say complicated and hard to describe. Zamouri Spices has culinary argan oil for sale as well as body-care products.
For those of you who prefer department stores to online shopping, argan oil skin care products are now available to consumers in the States. I’m sure Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil smells better than the pure stuff we bought on the side of the road. Keihls uses oil cultivated by the women’s Targanine Cooperative in Morocco’s Atlas mountain region. As a fair-trade product, hopefully it will keep young boys and girls in school instead of peddling bottles on the roadside. If that’s not reason enough to give it a try, the packaging is from recycled plastic.
Have you tried argan oil? Leave a comment and share your testimonial, recipie, or treatment with others.