Saffron fields

Iranians and Saffron – A perfect love story

Iran is full of saffron. They put it in everything, in coffee, tee and even in ice-cream. This ancient, beautiful spice with a colour between yellow and orange like the robes of Buddhist monks, is an ancient part of Iranian culture and tradition.

After lunch in a little town called Natanz we walked by some small saffron fields. I had never see these delicate little flowers before. When the blooms are picked, the stigmas have to be removed entirely by hand. All the attempts to mechanize this process in the past have failed because they are so delicate. It takes between 70,000 and 100,000 flowers to produce one kilo of this valuable spice. It is so valuable that when, in 1974, 800 pounds of saffron were hijacked close to Basel it led to the 14-month saffron war.

After learning how much work and time it takes to produce the spice I was astonished at the amount of saffron at the bazaar. It’s everywhere. I bought some to take it back home, as presents for my friends and family.

If you ever get the chance to buy some, do try cooking with it. It has very special taste and a wonderful colour.

From Spain to Kashmir a lot of other countries produce Saffron in small quantities but 93% of all Saffron production still comes from the heart of Iran. This spice is believed to have originated in Iran with Alexander the Great using it for almost everything in his life even embroidering the stigmas into clothes. From Cleopatra onwards, it is said that the aroma lingering on the skin after a hot saffron bath is enough to make any lover go mad with desire. Keep that in mind.

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