Swiss saffron

Today’s Washington Post travel section has a fascinating article about the saffron crop in Mund, Switzerland.  The saffron crocus (you need 130 crocuses to yield a gram of saffron, by the way) is native to Greece or Anatolia and was grown in the Middle East and Western Asia in ancient times.  The article quotes the mayor of Mund on how it got to Switzerland:

“We read in a medieval treatise that mercenaries on their way back to Switzerland brought saffron from Italy through the Simplon Pass, braving the strict customs laws of the times. They hid crocus bulbs in their long hair, risking death if discovered.”

 Talk about a thrilling tale; I think there should be a movie.  Working on my geographic vegetable garden this year, I’m paying attention to all these trade routes and stories of how foods traveled from one region to another: intriguing and essential history.

Anyone out there ever try growing saffron crocus and actually harvesting the stigmas for use in your own kitchen?

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