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Secrets of Saffron: The Vagabond Life of the World's Most Seductive Spice

by Pat Willard

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1092251,223 (3.57)1
Pat Willard's enticing exploration of the exotic spice saffron describes its journey from the ancient Sumerian kingdoms, Persia, and the island of Crete to the Pennsylvania Dutch in America. Through a beautiful blend of personal stories, myths, history, quotations, ancient remedies, and modern recipes, Willard takes us from Cleopatra's bath to the medieval court of France and beyond. A practical guide to buying, using, and even growing saffron as well as a cookbook containing recipes ranging from Paella Valenica to Saffron Consomme, this magical account is perfect for anyone who has ever been teased by this seductive spice.… (more)
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I enjoyed reading this book, as long as I didn't think too much about it (which is exactly what happens when I write a book review). I thought I'd be reading a microhistory, but it's also a memoir, and it felt to me as if the author couldn't decide which she'd rather be writing. Some chapters were all history, some were all memoir, some were a combination, and there was no real pattern as to which was which. Luckily, saffron's history is fascinating enough by itself to keep me reading along.

By the way, there are recipes scattered through the book. I will say that almost all of them looked tempting, although most of them also looked too large and complicated for me to deal with. But if you were looking for ways to use saffron, the author does her best to help you. ( )
  Silvernfire | Sep 12, 2013 |
First notice that this is a non-fiction book, not fiction. Books with facts in them usually get a lot of leeway even if they’re deathly dull. But this is one of the rare instances in which the author’s voice intrudes to the point that I wanted to tear out the pages in long, agonizing rips before throwing the damn thing out the window. The only thing preventing me from doing this is that I had no wish to damage library property. Talking about the history and culture of saffron is all well and good (the addition of recipes don’t hurt either), but I don’t want to hear about the author’s failed love relationships or other episodes in her personal life that have minimal, if any, relevance to the topic on hand.
  syaffolee | Feb 22, 2007 |
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Pat Willard's enticing exploration of the exotic spice saffron describes its journey from the ancient Sumerian kingdoms, Persia, and the island of Crete to the Pennsylvania Dutch in America. Through a beautiful blend of personal stories, myths, history, quotations, ancient remedies, and modern recipes, Willard takes us from Cleopatra's bath to the medieval court of France and beyond. A practical guide to buying, using, and even growing saffron as well as a cookbook containing recipes ranging from Paella Valenica to Saffron Consomme, this magical account is perfect for anyone who has ever been teased by this seductive spice.

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