Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Because each flower's stigmas must be collected by hand and there are only a few threads per flower, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
Saffron also has a long, colorful history, with cultivation documented as far back as ancient Persians in the 10th century B.C. Inhabitants in Derbena, Isfahan, and Khorasan wove saffron threads into textiles, included them in dyes and perfumes, and even steeped them into teas to fight depression. Legend has it that Cleopatra used saffron in her baths to enhance sensations during sex. Alexander the Great used saffron in his infusions, rice, and baths - not as an aphrodisiac but - as a curative for battle wounds. Alexander's troops, imitating the practice from the Persians, brought saffron-bathing to Greece.
While I won't be dropping those expensive little threads into my bathwater anytime soon, I will cook with them. Here are some saffron recipes to inspire you...click on the titles to go to the recipe post.
Enjoy! And if you have any great saffron recipes to share, let me know. You can email me at constantmotioncamilla [at] gmail [dot] com.