Saturday, March 04, 2006

Yes, I Had Dinner

No, you don't care about what I ate.
(OK, well, just a teeny bit. Some paella. Made with wild shrimp. Blue Hubbard squash from — horrors! — last November, when Prince Charles was visiting Marin County. An Anaheim pepper that was a bit hotter than expected. A little Spanish chorizo, from the Bay Area's Fabrique Delices. A whole jar of saffron my mom gave us when she and dad moved.)
But I got nothing to say, so I'm going to watch Napoleon Dynamite, and then go to bed.

19 comments:

ilva said...

How big was that jar??? We ususally use like 1 gr of saffron and that's more than enough!

Kalyn said...

You have a whole jar of saffron??? I'm very jealous. Not to mention that you are two whole years younger than me.

(You realize I'm joking about all this age stuff. Actually I'm surprised how fun it is to be officially "old".)

Dagny said...

I too am jealous about that jar of saffron.

I would be salivating but today I am in the middle of making a pot of gumbo.

cookiecrumb said...

This jar -- it must have been from the '70s -- had a little cellophane envelope inside it that contained the precious few saffron filaments. So it was not much more than a good pinch, and probably a "little" out of date.
Gumbo! That's on my to-do list, Dagny.

kudzu said...

Whew, I'm relieved at your explanation of the saffron. I remember sending a dish back at Il Fornaio (I hardly ever do this) because the amount of saffron in a fish dish made it taste really acrid. It's one of those tricky seasonings, isn't it?

A good place to pick up saffron is at Gloria Ferrer Caves in Sonoma, in the tiny retail section of the tasting room. Reasonable prices and always fresh because of their Spanish connection.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu, you can help me. Or maybe if Monkey Gland stops by, he can flame me. :D
I've never detected much flavor in saffron. Maybe I've only had expired saffron.
I get that it's bitter (and I can understand how overuse would result in acrid). But is it intended for much more than just that lovely color?
THANKS for the Gloria Ferrer tip. Heck, that's just a few minutes away. Sorta. but... Yeah!

kudzu said...

Oh yes, yes there is flavor -- but one too indescribable to t-e-l-l you. It's too bad its expense means that the jars are usually quite devilishly sealed and we can't open them for a sniff.

There are lots of faux saffrons on the market -- notably from Latin American countries. Try to get the real thing, from Spain.

You do know, I'm sure, that it is made of the pistils of autumn crocuses and must be harvested filament by filament, hence the cost. Always start with wee little amounts. You can always add more, but can't -- alas -- remove it.

cookiecrumb said...

Well, thanks, Kudzu. I still don't know what to be on the lookout for, tastewise, but we got good news from the CPA today, which means we can probably afford to try some Spanish saffron.
What do you think of the new Spanish Table in Strawberry? I haven't been yet.
Yeah, I knew about the flower pistils. Who the hell discovered that?

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled unto this website and I am glad there are otehrs like me out there (I was starting to doubt it isnce I broke up with my ex bf). Back on the topic, saffron tastes slightly musty to me. Having been the dubious beneficiary of several jars of the stuff imported directly from Spain by my mother, who is a the daughter of spaniards, I am pretty certain I have been exposed to the real thing. The stuff is just hard to define, but a very light musty mushroomy taste and the lovely color is all I get from the aforementioned pistils. It's the kind of stuff you really can't taste but would notice if it was missing, and it is certainly too much if overused.

cookiecrumb said...

Hey, Anonymous: That's helpful. The most important thing you taught me just now is that you'd notice if it was missing. I think I'm gonna try and educate my tongue.

WhiteBird said...

I have a rather large jar with a very small amount of saffron in it that must be from the 70's as well. I found this page doing having googled "saffron+expired" because I just added some to some a risotto which is simmering on the stove. Not only did the risotto not get that lovely color, the strands don't seem to be "disolving." Whatever that "je ne sais quois" of saffron is, it seems to have lost with age. Too bad I can't sell it on ebay as an antique.

Anyway...it seems that the proof is in the risotto. Boo hoo!

cookiecrumb said...

Hi Whitebird: How funny that you found this page. I'm hoping you dumped the whole jar of saffron into your dish. Now, let's go shopping, eh?

WhiteBird said...

Well...the risotto turned out fine. I was reluctant to use too much because I remember once thinking that a recipe that called for such a small amount of rosemary must really need more and I haven't been able to eat rosemary since.

I'm wondering if that acrid taste could have come from wine they used having gone bad rather than the saffron?

Shopping? Did someone say shopping?

dan in sydney said...

Hey people - I was googling "can't taste saffron" and came across your discussion. I have tried saffron dishes at restaurants (specifically where its been the star ingredient) and cooked with it at home, but I cannot taste anything! I don't doubt that it has taste (the rest of the world can't all be trying to trick me!) but I was wondering if anybody knew about physiologic inability to taste the flavour? for comparison - it is well known in medical circles that about 40% of the population will develop smelly urine after eating asparagus (due to a chemical reaction caused by a specific gene/enzyme in those people) and interestingly only about 40% of the population can actually smell the smell! So some people are making smelly urine but don't even know they are doing it because they can't smell it. I wonder if there is a similar problem with tastes, specifically with people like me who claim saffron to be tasteless? has anybody heard anything along those lines?

cookiecrumb said...

Dan: Thanks for your remark. You have actually given me some reason to live.
I don't have facts on saffron-tasters. But I'm wondering if you're not on the right track.
Bravo.

dan in sydney said...

http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/life_sciences/report-40723.html

interesting article here about variation in taste perception. Similar question to "do you see the same green that I do?"...

I like the idea that there could be a biological advantage to being able to taste something - is the autumn crocus toxic to us? is that why we need to taste the bitterness of the pistil, to be warned to not munch any further down the plant?? Will I, without my taste for saffron, accidentally eat a whole crocus one day without knowing it and fall down dead?! ooh, I shouldn't have turned on the computer today.......

dan in sydney said...

http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/life_sciences/report-40723.html

this was the link i meant to include

dan in sydney said...

www.innovations-report.com/html/
reports/life_sciences/
reports-40723.html

third time lucky. the blog box doesn't like a long continuous line....

cookiecrumb said...

Dan: Yay, success. Ha ha.
I can't wait to read this article; thanks!
The subject reminds me of a thought I had when I was young: do people "see" red as the same color I see? Do they hear music the same way I do? And like that...
OK, off to read linky.