How to Grow Saffroncomments (16) July 29th, 2008
Lancaster County cuisine is a humble cuisine. For centuries, our Amish and Mennonite kitchen gardens have produced farmers’ food—basic, unassuming meals that are meant to “stick to your ribs” and nourish your soul. My Mennonite grandmothers were not trend-setting gourmets. They knew nothing of nouvelle brunches, or spa cuisine, or macrobiotic dinners. Our food, here, is not about tarragon sauce and angel-hair pasta. We think in terms of quantity, not subtlety, at our farm tables.
For many visiting food lovers, it comes as a great surprise, then, to discover that our rural Pennsylvania Dutch cooks are connoisseurs of the world’s most expensive and exotic spice—saffron. Elsewhere, this garden spice is often shrouded in an aura of exotic mystery, but Lancaster County gardeners have been growing it alongside the cabbages for centuries.
• Saffron in the Pennsylvania Dutch Tradition
• Stewed Chicken with Saffron and Chervil
• Saffron-Flavored Spelt Salad with Corn
• Saffron Tea Cake
Saffron recipes from FineCooking.com...
Here, saffron is not the extravagant luxury it is thought to be elsewhere. Roman emperors bathed in saffron-scented waters and carpeted their theaters with the purple blossoms. Mennonites never did all that. Saffron, for us, means food—chicken dishes. This crocus provides the deep yellow color and pungent flavor that is critical for the success of some of our most traditional dishes. Actually, any dish using poultry or egg noodles is fair game for saffron in Lancaster County. Our traditional cuisine calls for this yellow seasoning so frequently that we have been referred to as the “Yellow Dutch.”
posted in: flowers, spices