Saffron et al...

The friendliest place on the web for anyone that enjoys cooking.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Senior Cook
Feb 4, 2003
The discussion regarding saffrom reminded me of the fact that food preparation these days, if one can judge by cooking shows and other media, "requires" the extensive use of spices, herbs, etc. Anything to presumably improve the flavor of whatever foods are considered.

Personally, I like to rather frequently "get back to basics". Prepare foodstuffs without modification, to enable the enjoyment of each food's natural flavor.

Meat, cooked by any means appropriate, but without the addition of rubs or marinades, etc. Many vegetables don't even require cooking to be delicious, but, if cooked, have their own distict and enjoyable flavors again without the addition of modifiers. I love a White Rose potato boiled with its skin on, eaten with no more than a touch of salt to wake up these old taste buds. Same with a variety of other vegetables.

I'm not condemning the complex, sophisticated recipes, mind you. They are often delicious (and just as often overrated). My point is that the simple foods can be equally enjoyable, and are, I belileve, too often overlooked.
I agree, but whatever food you are talking about needs to be the highest quality to be thoroughly enjoyable. For instance vine ripened tomatoes with just sea salt and extra virgin olive oil is delicious, but if used with regular red tomatoes, it wouldn't be quite as good. Eating a raw or blanched baby carrot next to a regular carrot, there's no comparison. The same thing could be said with grilling beef. I love grilling steaks with just rock salt on them, but again, they would have to be USDA Prime, not Choice, in order to really enjoy a high quality beef flavor. Some things however, just go hand in hand in order to be really enjoyed. Things like Ahi or Hamachi sashimi just goes with soy sauce and wasabi, or shrimp just tastes better with cocktail sauce, or crab and lobster paired with drawn butter and lemon. There are other things, like most chicken and a lot of cuts of pork which just need additional flavorings, be it sauce or a marinade, simply because they just lack a strong natural flavor. Another example, one of the restaurants I used to work at, we used to slow roast Prime Rib with nothing but covered in rock salt, and it was delicious without any horseradish or au jus. But again, it was a Prime Black Angus cut, not an inferior quality of meat. Another thing to consdier is, what method of cooking are you using for the food? Say you want to cook a Pot Roast. You wouldn't braise it in just water and salt to taste the natural flavors, you would braise it with a mire poix, wine, stock, herbs, etc., no matter if the pot roast was black angus or not.

I think what should be taken a look at instead is, what can you minimally add to a type of food to make it taste good without losing losing the natural flavor. An example is for a salad we do. We take Swordfish and just use a simple marinade of extra virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh oregano, then season with salt before we grill it. Really simple, but the flavors compliment the swordfish so well, and really accentuate and bring out the flavors.

A lot of times too, you see dishes with a lot of sauce, or a strong flavored sauce. That's simply because in many occasions, the Chef is really trying to highlight the sauce. You'll go to a lot of places and most times the meat or fish or whatever isn't even seasoned except for maybe salt and pepper, but it's the sauce which is being highlighted and what makes the dish.
I totally agree with both 'coot and ironchef....there are some spices I will NOT allow myself to run out of.. (garlic for one! )
As I said in my reply to the fajita recipe request.....the real secret is properly cooked good quality beef or chicken.
Yesterday we dined at a well known, long established sea food restaurant here in L.A. - ocean view and all. (YOu can open a window an feed the sea gulls from your hand.)

I started with a bowl of clam chowdeer for which the place is "famous". It was laoded with clas, nice, creamy texture - but so damned much black pepper (which I love!) in it one could not hope to tase the clams. The others at the table ooh-and -aah'd over the delicious clam chowder. And it WAS good - but you couldnt tell it was clam from the flavor.

Uncharacteristically, I kept my big mouth shut.

Point: a steamed clam, with no other additions, is delicious - if you like clams. The "pepper" chowder was good, too. The idea is to add variety to one's diet by trying foods both ways: with and without added flavors.

CVarnivore knows what I mean: A nat shot of Straight Bourbon is really good, but so is, for example, boutbon -and-ginger-with-a-twist.
i agree on the point that great food can stand by itself. The best steak I've ever had in my life (and I've eaten a lot of them) was almost completely unseasoned. It was just a great cut of beef that had been very well aged, and it was incredible. However, since oldcoot brings up the point that all we see on cooking shows are VERY seasoned dishes, it's important to realize that if cooking shows relied on the philosophy of "buy the best type of food available and eat it plain", then there would only be one cooking show and it would have about 2 episodes. Personally, I can't afford/have no desire to buy the 'best' of everything. I really enjoy buying a cheap cut of meat (brisket comes to mind) and making it 'sing'.
Like I said, I've had some great dishes that were barely seasoned, but personally, I would not want to eat like that every day. There are just too many flavors out there to enjoy. The mark of a great chef (which I'm not :P ) is one who can season any food only to the point it needs to be seasoned. I believe all food needs its room to "speak" (the seasonings should not overpower the natural taste of the food, except for pork, which has no taste IMHO). While I tend to slightly overseason everything, I have the most fun finding the "perfect combination" of seasoning for any dish.

OK, I'm done with my ramble now. :)
Plus, if food were only very simply seasoned, there would be no such thing as Culinary arts or cuisine for that matter. No Italian, French, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Morrocan, etc. since there would be no differentiation between all the flavors. And that's what makes food so great.

Latest posts

Top Bottom