The Saffron Gatherers

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detail of the saffron gatherers from the Tehran fresco

detail of the saffron gatherers from the Tehran fresco

Title and date Saffron gatherers
about XIX century b.C.
Author Unknown
Technique Fresco
Theme The saffron harvest

In the archeological site of Akrotiri, on the today known island of Santorini, inside a three floor building, was found a wall fresco of undenible artistic value.
Even if its author is unknown, this painting provides evidence about the Greek civilization, confirming that the Neopalatial Greek society was gay, free, refined and lived in perfect harmony with nature.
In some rooms of the building were found wall frescos depicting exclusively women and in other ones paintings representing only men; this implies that the building was devided into rooms destined only for women and rooms intended only to men, where they participated separetely in different ritual ceremonies.

In this fresco some women are shown gathering the saffron flowers in a field of crocuses and rocks. The women are richly dressed and are wearing different jewels and hairstyles.
Since antiquity saffron was considered a very important spice; it was used to flavour the food, but also as an analgesic for the menstrual pains and in case of abortion. According to some scholars, these wall paintings celebrated a spring festivity when people used to thank the Goddess for giving them this precious plant. In many documents of the ancient literature, crocus or saffron was mentioned as a dye for dresses and its yellow colour symbolized love, femininity and seduction. It was also related to wedding and funeral ceremonies and used in medicine.
These frescos are lively and fascinating and provide real information about the Minoan society and the important role played in it by the women, here depicted in all their beauty and elegance.
The colours, especially red, brown, ochre and blue, applied on a white plastered wall, create a deep and vivid contrast with it.

Saffron Risotto
Difficulty: low
4 servings

carnaroli Rice g. 400
Butter g. 100
Chopped onion g. 50
glass of white wine n° 1
vegetal Broth lt. 2
Saffron powder sachet n° 2
Saffron pistils To taste
Grated Parmesan g. 100

– Prepare the vegetal broth by boiling celery, carrot, onion, courgette, etc. in little water. Season with salt.
– Dilute the saffron powder in a glass of broth.
– In a casserole melt the butter, brown the onion and add the rice. Toast and baste with white wine.
– Let the wine evaporate and go on cooking with the broth with saffron and broth sieved through a chinois.
– After 15 minutes’ cooking, cream the rice with a lump of butter, the Parmesan and some saffron pistils.
– Adjust with salt and serve after decorating with the remaining pistils.

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