Lo saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, comes from the East and gives color and flavor to dishes based on rice, pasta and fish.
I cannot fail to mention the Milanese risotto, dear to the kitchen of my home and primary drive in search of saffron during my travels.
Due to the low yield and the very long processing times, saffron reaches some very high marketing costs, enough to make it one of the spices kept under lock and key in many Italian supermarkets!
Trying to maximize the yield of travel with low cost flights, those - to be clear - that lead us to visit the most disparate destinations in Europe and the Mediterranean basin, I recommend combining the supply of products that abroad could cost less than in spain, or native food unavailable in our country with the same quality available in the country of origin.
And here comes saffron back into play: what are the low cost destinations where you can find the expensive spice at a really affordable price?
In Egypt saffron is sold to very low prices, this is because it is very little used in local cuisine, but it grows in quantity and the labor, for the extraction of the stigmas from the flowers, still has a low cost. And again, its use in the past as a dye for fabrics has been outclassed by chemical dyeing methods, leaving much of the production destined for local markets unused. So visit the spice markets, ask for saffron and bargain! You will do some real bargains!
In Turkey, and in particular al Mizir Carsisi of Istanbul, that is the large covered market (bazaar) which was supplied with spices from neighboring Egypt, there are several varieties of saffron, distinguished by intensity of color, aroma and consequently flavor. There is something for everyone, at prices that are not too low but certainly affordable. A suggestion: the pistils are cheaper, have a greater concentration of properties and it is sufficient to dissolve them in water before use to also have an excellent yield.
In Greece there are no spice markets as in the Middle East, but areas of markets, shops and minimarkets dedicated to the sale of common European flavors already packaged in gift bags or glass jars, well don't snub them! Available in powder or stigmas, the quality is excellent, tested in the kitchen they will not make you regret the one purchased in our supermarkets.
Personally I found it both in Crete, where it was already grown 3500 years ago, and in Kefalonia where the PDO saffron from the Greek region of Macedonia was sold, which is directly accessible by low cost flights to Volos, to give you a more precise location. .
Herbs, spices, seasonings are surprisingly affordable too Cyprus, an island quite expensive for tourism and popular with Anglo-Saxons. It would therefore be a shame not to stock up on saffron and other local products! Here too you will find everything, comfortably, in a Western-inspired minimarket.