SUR – German edition Thursday, September 15th 2016 by Marlene Wörner, translated by Alex Vogt

Victoria and Joakim Ahlén launched a non-profit education project in the desert. Parts of their profits benefit Moroccan kids.

FRIGILIANA. ‘Live to love the road’, which in German means “The journey is the reward’ – is the motto of a couple from Sweden, which gave up their jobs within the IT industry and  their hectic life in their Swedish hometown Gothenburg respectively. Their quest for a simpler, yet more rewarding lifestyle led Victoria (41) and Joakim Ahlén (38) along with their daugther Maj (8) and son Lucas (11) to the countryside of Frigiliana. Their new home serves as base station for their new adventures.

“We wanted to teach our kids a more ecologically, sustainable way of life, closer to nature, and that brought us to Andalusia. Shortly thereafter, we took our first trip to Morocco, and that sparked our passion for the country and her people. Our heart lead us this long road“, says the originally Finnish born. Without further ado she created the lifestyle brand Vilostrada and since then buys Moroccan arts and crafts to be sold in Spain, Sweden and online.
At the same time the couple founded the non-profit organisation Vilostrada Foundation and current project Tanmirt. “Ten percent of our profits benefit nomads in the desert. We believe, that all children have a right to education”, Ahlén. Even the children of nomadic people will learn how to read and write, even if they are always moving“, explains Victoria, who personally transfers the money for school books, bags and school lessons to the partner organisation on site. Victoria travels to Morocco once a month to buy new goods. Sometimes she leads groups to the North-African country. In March and October she visits the Nomadic people in the desert. This time she take a group from October 10th to 17th. A few places are still vacant. Victoria pursues her new tasks passionately. And not only her husband, but also her children help out enthusiastically.

Vilostrada can be found at the eco market in the Garden Center El Algarrobo in La Viñuela every Saturday. Whoever buys from Vilostrada supports indirectly their education project in the desert. And whenever her husband and photographer Joakim sells one of his impressive Moroccan pictures, a part of the money also benefits that project. An exhibition of the large-sized pictures was on display last June in Torre del Mar.

Tagine Workshops

TagineWorkshop Vilostrada photo: Joakim Ahlén

Tagine describes a pot made of clay with a cone-shaped lid as well as the dish itself respectively. The traditional Moroccan clay pot is low fired. Therefore, a Tagine can handle abrupt change in temperatures without bursting. The thick walls protect the dish from burning and provides a constant exchange of heat, which makes for gentle cooking. All ingredients are layered within the clay pot. Tagine can be bought as an enamelled version or with a natural finish, whereas the later one is usually used for cooking, while the enamelled one is used for serving the dishes.

Together with Susan Geraldine Lock Dyde, an insider to the Moroccan cuisine, Victoria Ahlén holds two Tagine workshops a month. Those workshops are not only lots of fun but foremost a great sensation for the taste buds. First off, Susan explains all participants what a Tagine is, how to cook with it and which ingredients, herbs and spices are used. Afterwards the meat and vegetables are prepared by the participants according to her instructions. Only organic products are processed. Susan explains how to fill the Tagines, and layers each of the five clay pots with a different combination of herbs and spices. “Participants are supposed to experience different taste combinations“, she explains. Covered with a lid, they are set on clay containers, which are especially made for these Tagine pots. But you can also put them onto a gas stove or put them into an oven. While the dishes simmer slowly, you can refresh in the family Ahlén pool and get served a Moroccan snack as apetizer.

Victoria meanwhile, tells interesting stories about Morocco. After about 90 minutes, it is done. The cone lids are lifted, and a delicious smell of “Thousand and One Nights“ fills the air – mint, star anise, rosemary, cinnemon, cumin and all the other Moroccan herbs; not to forget all of the delicious taste! The savouring silence at the table speaks for itself. For dessert, Victoria serves up a freshly prepared date cake.

Participating in one of these Tagine-workshops costs €30 per person. Courses are held in groups of 8 to 10 people. Needless to say, ten percent of the profits go to the non-profit organisation Vilostrada Foundation. For upcoming workshops, follow link. In the future, Tagine dishes can also be sampled at the eco market in La Viñuela. Arrangements can also be made to book a Tagine workshop at your private house or for events. Inquiries to be made per e-mail to hello@vilostrada.com.

If you want to read the article in original in German, please do so on this link.