If you’ve never noticed the poetic color of a saffron infusion or inhaled the intoxicating fragrance that wafts off of it, than Elatia Harris’s disarmingly thorough ode to the world’s most expensive spice will make you rush right out to Penzeys to get your hands on some.

The piece, on 3 Quarks Daily, encompasses everything from the taste of saffron to the history of saffron adulteration to cooking with saffron. Along the way, we find out that the two most evocative types of saffron are Persian saffron from Iran (make sure you get the kind that is graded sargol) and the deeper, more complex (and pricier) Kashmiri saffron. There’s a buying guide, too. Try not to be too shocked at the prices.

The 7,500-word piece (part three of a series! The first two deal with saffron in art and mythology) also ponies up some amazing-sounding recipes that go beyond—but also include—saffron rice (CHOW has a recipe for this as well, from cookbook author Najmieh Batmanglij). The most intriguing is a dessert mousse made with avocados and a big pinch of saffron.

Coincidentally, saffron came up in the Digest just the other week …

See more articles