Welcome to Taliouine
Taliouine is the African centre of l’or rouge (red gold) – saffron, the world’s most expensive spice. Numerous shops and boutiques sell it here for about Dh35 to Dh40 per gram. The purple crocus sativus flower, from which the spice comes, grows only above 1200m. It flowers between mid-October and mid-November, when you can see locals picking the flowers around villages 12km east of Taliouine. A saffron festival takes place – around the first weekend of November – which usually incorporates nightly concerts from some of Berber music's biggest names, and massed ahouach (celebratory) dancing to the beat of bendirs (traditional hand drums).
Beware ‘counterfeit saffron’; the genuine article should stain your fingers yellow (rather than red), taste bitter (rather than sweet) and carry a spicy price tag.