When I was little I used to really love it when my mum made something called ‘savoury rice’. Savoury rice was, essentially, rice that was yellow. But hey – yellow rice! For a five year old kid, things don’t exactly get much more exciting. (Or at least they didn’t for me.)
My twenty-seven-year-old self is somewhat less excited by the prospect of yellow rice. Sure, I’ve got nothing actively against it, but the mere fact of its yellowness is no longer enough to leave me satisfied. Those days have long since passed. I would, at the very least, require my yellow rice to have some kind of flavour that is different to ordinary rice.
Now it must be admitted that my mum’s original intention was probably not to simply add a little colour to the rice. Her intention was to add a bit of flavour too. She failed, in a way that was far too profound for a mere child to comprehend, but in such a way that she can’t be expected to carry the bulk of the blame. The fault lies with the ‘spice’ at whose hands the rice gained it yellow hue. The fact that saffron is “one of the world’s costliest spices” (Wikipedia, 2014) has beguiled far greater people than my mum into believing that it actually does something of any note to food. And the truth is, aside from turning it yellow, it really does sod all. Saffron is just a posh, expensive food colouring. It has no flavour. The kind of people who put saffron in their food are probably the kind of people who cut out Marks and Spencer’s labels from the insides of their clothes, and replace them with Harrod’s labels (which, family legend has it, my paternal grandmother used to do. My family doesn’t speak to her anymore. And the great irony: she lives in a place called SAFFRON Walden! I’m not even joking! You couldn’t make it up!*)
To further test the Saffron Tastes Of Nothing Theory (STONT), I have just tasted a bit of saffron off of my mum’s spice rack. And it’s even worse than initially thought: saffron tastes of bloody pot pourri, with a lingering, faintly bitter aftertaste. Not only is this taste faintly unpleasant, it doesn’t even have the balls to transfer itself to food upon being added to it. Were it able to do this it would at least be worthy of a kind of grudging admiration, a bit like coriander.
Next time someone serves me some ‘saffron rice’ I’m going to give them a Chinese burn.
*you probably could.