I like to cook intuitively with what happens to be on hand, which means having a certain familiarity with my ingredients. Recipes are just guidelines in my world and not to be taken at face value, ever. I’ve never had enough Saffron around to become familiar with it to the point that I can use it with any confidence. When my mom brought me a small box of quality saffron from Spain, I had a chance to become a little more familiar. With Saffron now on my radar, I of course decided I should grow the stuff instead of buying it. I mean if we can grow the stuff here, why import it at 80.00 an ounce? Saffron seems to be capable of growing in a fairly wide variety of climates from England to Afghanistan. Then I could sell the bulbs and promote the idea of growing it and start a local industry and.....
A laptop surfing safari turned up a few small scale growers focused on high quality Saffron for local consumption, but none of them in California. Aside from these geeky boutique producers who have been bitten by the Saffron bug, saffron production seems to be left to areas where it has long been cultivated.
Saffron’s peculiarly unique flavor is subtle and pervasive at the same time. A few threads too many and it goes from enhancing your dish to ruining it. Fortunately, it’s intensity means that only a few threads are required and if it wasn’t so intense, no one would likely be able to afford to use it at all, nor probably bother to. The part used is the intensely red stigma of a pretty little purple/blue flower named Crocus sativus, the stigma being the female part that receives the pollen. The Latin name is probably pronounced like kroak-us sa-tee’-vus, or sat’-i-vus but no one really knows for sure because Latin is a dead language. So just say it however you want to and if anyone flicks you shit for pronouncing it wrong, just follow Jepson’s advice of The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California:
"... practice what sounds good to your ear; conviction is important." "When someone presumes to correct your pronunciation, a knowing smile is an appropriate response."
That's always worked for me :D