Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why "Epazote and Saffron"?

I am Mexican, and am married to an Italian. We live in California. Needless to say, food is important in this family.

Epazote is an herb used in Mexican dishes. The name comes from the Aztec "epazotl" (by the way, the same language "chocolatl" comes from. More on that later.) Many consider epazote an acquired taste: it has a strong smell and distinct flavor. I can't imagine eating black beans or quesadillas without it. Fortunately, it's easy to grow. We have some in our back yard.

Saffron is used in Mediterranean cuisine. Its claim to fame is that it's the world's most expensive spice (rumor has it it's worth more than its weight in gold.) That's because "it takes 225,000 hand picked stigmas to make a pound of saffron" (I found this fact at Saffron is used to color Buddhist robes, Indian clothes and is the ingredient that gives risotto alla milanese its flavor and color.

Both epazote and saffron have medicinal qualities. They are both carminative and both said to be calming. In both cases, large doses can be fatal. There is a lot to be said for moderation. I'll try to remember that.

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