香料之后——藏红花

香料藏红花粉

香料藏红花粉

有种香料将埃及法老、印度咖哩以及佛教僧侣联系在一起。这种香料得采收一个足球场面积大的原料才能制作出一点点的份量。而且比起其他香料,它从生产、收成到采购更是所费不赀。这种香料就是红中带黄的藏红花。

藏红花是摘自藏红花柱头烘干后的成品。要制作这种香料,必须用手工摘取每朵花上的 3 根小柱头,而每根柱头只有 2 公分长。一磅的干藏红花柱头得用掉多达 7 万 5 千朵鲜花。另外,要种植藏红花,花农们必须小心挖出成熟的球茎,将新球茎从母株取下并移植。因为这种劳力密集的过程,使得每磅藏红花要价从 500 美金至 5,000 美金不等。因为藏红花这么有经济价值,所以几乎每个气候合适的欧亚国家长久都有栽种藏红花的传统,而现在它更是遍植世界各地。

那么藏红花到底有何特别之处,值得人们这么费事又舍得花钱?首先,藏红花有非常独特的气味。即使非常少量,也会让食物散发出些许金属的味道,在一些像是西班牙海鲜饭和印度咖哩等有名的料理中就会用到藏红花。而这两道料理也带出藏红花如此受欢迎的第二个原因:那就是它亮澄澄的金黄色。藏红花可用来作为染料,通常被用来制作佛教僧侣所穿的特殊黄长袍。历年来,藏红花也一直被视为是对抗瘟疫的珍贵疗方、抗抑郁剂和催情剂。据说传奇性女王埃及艳后就会在沐浴时用藏红花泡澡。

总之,藏红花独一无二的特性使它在所触及的每个文化中都占有一席之地。藏红花的气味、颜色以及制造时的困难过程都透露出在未来的日子里,它仍会是最弥足珍贵的一种香料。

藏红花被视为与黑松露、鹅肝、鱼子酱世界 3 大美食并列的顶级食材,有『香料女王』之称,是全世界最昂贵的香料,因此和黑松露、鱼子酱、鹅肝在美食殿堂上并称三王一后。

有一则神话说,牧草的精灵向花神弗劳拉祈愿:『请在深秋寂寥的牧场为小羊儿们开些花吧。』弗劳拉听到祈祷后就绽放出藏红花。秋天开花的藏红花盛产于希腊、印度、伊朗、西班牙、土耳其和摩洛哥,而以西班牙的质量最佳,最具商业价值。

市面上贩卖的瓶罐装藏红花呈粉末状或丝线状,放到饭菜或汤里调理,除了化成香气和耀眼夺目的金黄色,根本吃不到藏红花,她是美食的化妆师,能化腐朽为神奇,但完全溶在食物里,啥也看不到,这虚无飘渺的食材,有太多国家为她疯狂着迷。像是西班牙的小镇 Consuegra,每年 10 月底就会举行两天的藏红花节活动,庆祝这种香料的采收。

 

英文原文:

 

Lord of the Spices

There is a spice that links an Egyptian Pharaoh, Indian curries, and Buddhist monks. It takes an entire football field to make only a small amount. And this spice is more costly to produce, harvest, and buy than any other. It is the reddish-yellow spice called saffron.

Saffron is the dried stigma of crocus flowers. To make the spice, each flower must be stripped of its three tiny stigmas—each is only two centimeters long—by hand. It takes up to 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron. What’s more, to grow crocus flowers, farmers must carefully dig up the flower bulbs, break them up, and replant them. Because of this labor-intensive process, saffron costs from US$500 to US$5,000 a pound. It is so valuable that virtually every Eurasian country with the right climate has a long saffron-growing tradition, and it is now grown worldwide.

So what is so special about saffron that makes it worth the extraordinary effort and expense? First, it has a very unique flavor. Even a tiny pinch gives food a slightly metallic taste, and saffron is used in famous dishes such as Spanish paella and Indian curries. These dishes also show the second reason for saffron’s popularity: its luminous yellow color. As a dye, saffron is traditionally used to make the distinctive yellow robes worn by Buddhist monks. Over the years, it has also been valued as a cure for plague, an anti-depressant, and an aphrodisiac; legendary ruler Cleopatra is said to have used it in her baths.

In short, saffron’s one-of-a-kind properties have made it an important part of all the cultures it has touched. Its taste, color, and the difficult production process mean that saffron is likely to remain the most valued spice for a long time to come.


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标签:藏红花 香料

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