SAFFRON, NOT JUST A SPICE
Saffron is a precious and complex spice. It contains over 150 volatile compounds and aromas, including a large number of non-volatile active ingredients such as:
They fight free radicals responsible for cellular aging. Antioxidant and anticancer action and against decay of brain cells. Saffron has the highest content of carotenoids (1000 times higher than that of carrot). Contains carotenoids soluble in water, therefore easily assimilated.
Important in metabolism (converts carbohydrate into energy) in the growth process.
Necessary for cell metabolism, strengthens the immune system, helps to assimilate iron. Vitamins B1 and B2 are contained in excellent quantities in saffron. In addition to these there is also a good presence of vitamin C and B6.
Activates the metabolism, eases the production of gastric juices and it’s quickly assimilated. Digestive action. The safranal is the component which is due to the characteristic aroma of saffron
SAFFRON, BETWEEN MYTH AND LEGEND
In Greek mythology it is said that a beautiful young man named Crocus, who lived in the shelter of the Gods, fell in love with the nymph Smilace, who was the favorite of the god Hermes. Revenge was immediate: the boy was turned into a bulb.
Both the Greek and Roman civilizations used saffron to sprinkle the floors of temples or to perfume homes.
Plinio narrated the highly utilized aphrodisiac use of saffron. In fact the capacity to stimulate sexual activity is declared by the same, but above all to increase the lust in women. Perhaps paraphrasing this last quality could be defined as a “filter of love”. The Sidonians and the Stirs painted the veils of their brides.
IN ITALY FROM THE 13TH CENTURY
With the end of the Roman Empire the cultivation of saffron came to an abrupt halt and it was necessary to wait for the Arab colonizations around the year one thousand to see again the cultivation of saffron also in the Mediterranean countries.
The most ancient record which prove the cultivation of saffron in Italy, guarantee its start in the 13th century.
Sure enough, in the medieval era, saffron imposed itself because of its many uses in the kitchen. Cookers made use of this spice, in addition to its typical taste and scent, even because of the colouring it gives to the dish of which it’s spice.
To serve such colourful dishes was a sign of wealth and splendour so valued and put on show by medieval noble lords.
Cardinal Richelieu used a saffron jam as a stimulant.
French surgeon Ambrogio Parè used to take care of impotence suggesting the use of saffron risotto.
During 19th century scholars who faced this matter divided between the ones who believe saffron was a libido stimulant and the others who thought it was a weakening spice.
Which tendency prevailed? It is enough to know that, during 20th century, doctors tried to cure female sterility with this spice.