Revered for both its monetary value and its therapeutic properties, the luminous and delicate strands of saffron are so precious that they are known to be counterfeited with horse hair, corn silk, and even shredded paper. Pure saffron strands have been assigned the power to not only cure physical ailments, but to increase pleasure and lift melancholy.

Believed to have primary origins in Iran, the country still accounts for nearly all of the world’s saffron production and is a feature ingredient in various Iranian khoresh dishes, but also notably in Spanish paella and French bouillabaisse.