When Steve returns from a stint away working he always brings me a few special things. This time it was some fancy hand cream, a couple chocolate bars from duty-free (chocolate is expensive in this part of the world), a can of ready-to-eat hummus, a small bottle of perfume and a bottle of hazelnut butter. An eclectic mix, but he knows me oh too well.
Also tucked into his one small piece of checked luggage was a present to me from a friend, fellow sailor and chef; a box of Spanish saffron. Small, useful, exotic and a little too extravagant to buy for myself, it was a lovely surprise and very thoughtful boat gift. Even before I unwrapped the plastic I could smell the unique perfume wafting through the boat.
Saffron is actually the stigma of crocus flower, crocus sativus. This particular crocus will not produce seeds needed to reproduce naturally and is particularly fussy about the conditions it grows in, so the whole process of producing saffron requires time consuming human intervention. Not to mention that the harvesting of the tiny, fragrant stigma is still done by hand. Continue reading