Saffron, a member of the lily family, is the delicate part of the flower that catches pollen, also known as the stigma. Just imagine: there are only a few stigmas per flower and they need to be carefully collected by hand. For the production of a single kilogram of saffron, more than 100.000 flowers and 400 hours of labour are needed! No wonder the most expensive spice in the world is also known as ‘red gold’.
So why go through all that trouble? Since ancient times, saffron has been used as an aphrodisiac, a dye, a medicine and a taste-maker. Alexander the Great and his forces mixed saffron in their teas and dined on saffron rice (scroll down for a great recipe!), and Cleopatra used a quarter-cup of saffron in her warm baths, -did that woman ever leave her bathtub?- as she supposedly loved its colouring, cosmetic and aphrodisiac effects. During the Italian renaissance women would coat their hair with a mixture of saffron and lemon and stay out in the sun to get that famous Venetian blond hair colour we now call strawberry blond. The original Brigitte Bardots..
What does it actually do? Well, saffron is among the richest plant sources of vitamin B2 and A. It’s a natural anti-oxidant and sedative and thanks to the pigments it also improves digestion.
You can buy powdered saffron, but I like to get the threads. Two grams are good for about 75 cups of tea, and I love opening the small jar and smelling that unique scent that reminds me of sun-warmed hay and honey. If you like the taste of green tea, you’ll love saffron tea. It has a similar earthy yet fresh flavor, but without the caffeine. Just don’t drink too much of it; 5 grams or more per day can have harmful effects. Also in that sense, I saffron reminds me a lot of Louboutins; too much of a good thing…
Tea with benefits:
Add a pinch (5-10 threads) of saffron to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for 5 minutes. For the best results, first let the threads soak in some tepid water, then add the boiling water.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
2 cups boiling water, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked long-grain white or brown
1 teaspoon salt
Steep the saffron in 1/2 cup boiling water.
In a skillet that can be tightly covered, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice begins to absorb the butter and becomes opaque, but do not brown the rice. Quickly pour in the remaining 1 1/2 cups boiling water along with the saffron water. Cover immediately, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes, 40 minutes if using brown rice, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. For best results, do not remove the lid while the rice is cooking.
Tip: serve with a light sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted pine nuts.
REFLECTIONS FROM YOUR MIRROR
FOR THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD
Between king and QUEEN
Who is Tasya van Ree? The mysterious girl in the big black hat has been fascinating art connoisseurs and fashion lovers alike since she burst onto the scene with her stunning black-and-white photographs of celebrities like Michelle Rodriguez and (one-time lover) Amber Heard. I asked the Hawaiian-born visual artist of Dutch-Japanese ancestry (41) about her art and soul. “Between both King and Queen is where I exist.”
Sara Mearns (31) is New York City Ballet’s boldest ballerina. A passionate, intense dancer, she started dancing at 3 and starred in Swan Lake when she was only 19. But instead of resting on her laurels, Sara has kept challenging herself with daring projects, from a collaboration with hip-hop dancers to a leading role in a Broadway show. I talked with the fierce Swan Queen about sacrifices, body confidence, and how to turn pain into gain. “I’m not the typical skinny, tall, long-neck kind of ballerina.”
The art of love!
Get your creative juices flowing
This Valentine’s, don’t wait around for that love-note or those fancy chocolates to feel loved and desired. Express yourself to fall in love with yourself, now!