You may remember I planted some saffron crocuses in a couple of pots in August. They started to flower this week. They’re a delicate shade of purple, each with three bright orangey-red stamens – the part of the plant that is used as a spice. They also have quite a strong heady scent if you get up close and personal with them.
Harvesting of the stamens, according to the instructions, must take place either at dawn or when the flower opens to get maximum flavour. Then you have to dry them out thoroughly, after which you can store them in an airtight jar for several years. I should end up with 90 stamens, which may sound a lot, but actually isn’t. No wonder saffron is so expensive!
An aside: I just looked up stamen (the current word of the moment) in the dictionary. It says that they are the male reproductive organs of a flower. Castrated croci!
I went to London with Colin on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend to see some friends who have moved there from Cambridge. We were finally introduced to the chimichanga. This is a deep-fried burrito (literally ‘little donkey’), and was served with refried beans and rice.
At Christmas, when singing the carol Little Donkey, Spanish speakers (singers) will appear to be singing for their supper:
Burrito, burrito, en el polvoriento camino….
As a further note, in Spanish, as in English, the re- suffix may be applied to a verb to indicate repetition of the verbal action: abrir ‘to open’, reabrir ‘to reopen’.
In Spanish, however, it may also be applied to words to indicate intensity. Hence, frijoles refritos ‘refried beans’ are not cooked again, but are well-cooked.
- The study of alcohol. Alcohology encompasses wine tasting, measuring concentration of ethanol in liquid mixtures etc.. Etymology: a corruption of archaeology, possibly a freudian slip. Coined by an archaeology student at Durham University (if I remember rightly. I was in the pub when I learned this word).
An alcohologist is not necessarily an alcoholic.