Sunday, April 25, 2010

Most Expensive Spicy Saffron Flower

The most expensive spice in the world is considered exotic, intriguing and seductive - so much so that legend has it Cleopatra used saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasurable.

Meanwhile, Greek mythology says a handsome mortal named Crocos was turned into the beautiful purple crocus flower, from which saffron comes, when his advances to a lovely nymph named Smilax were spurned.

The vivid orange of saffron is considered the epitome of beauty and is the color of Buddhist robes. When it comes to food, this is one incredible ingredient, imparting a wonderful soft orange glow to dishes and tasting of honey hay-like notes and a unique penetrating spiciness. Saffron is the dried red stigma of the crocus, which flowers in April.

The stigma is hand-picked, ideally first thing in the morning before the flower opens. The three hair-like red stigmas are laid on a dehydrating tray to dry, losing about 80 per cent of their weight. It's a back-breaking, labor-intensive, time-consuming task and it can take up to 150,000 flowers to produce a kilo of the spice - hence its ranking as the world's most expensive.