There seem to be almost no crocus yet this year in New Jersey. Spring is so late here that I begin to think the whole spring floral show will be truncated, which is something that almost never happens. Spring will be less seasonal panoply than a botched Buzby Berkeley number, with the daffodils stumbling into the middle of the crocuses’ act. Normally there is a week in between the chorus lines of yellow, white, and purple, on front lawns and the Can Can petticoat whirling dance of King Alfred and Ice Follies daffodils. Not this year. This year we will have one of those brisk Springs, that zip bulging 80 degree temperatures into weeks designed for 50 degree weather. But this is North America, and sometimes the cues for seasonal show times get mixed up, as though an addled stage manager and not Mother Nature were in charge.
Crocus are one of my favorite flowers. Even if we were just talking about the Fall ones that bloom in such a mysterious way, out of the bare ground, pushing up these ghostly mauve blooms in places where you would swear there was nothing but dry earth the week before. They are one of the certifiable miracles of the garden.
I love the smell, and I love the spice, going nuts on a regular basis for those Indian desserts that feature saffron. Rice pudding makes very little sense to me if scarlet threads of saffron are not there among the grains of rice, turning the whole dish golden yellow and adding their strange tang and original warm taste to every mouthful. I could live on these desserts, as well as the Paellas that include saffron.
As to perfumes, a number of them do feature the spice but, after I smelled Comptoir de Sud’s Saffranier, it took me some time to ever pick another saffron containing fragrance because the first was so strongly saffron. That was the closest anyone has ever come to a saffron soli (spice). After a long interval when Saffranier became hard to find, I looked around for another.
Most of the saffron perfumes were variations on rose ouds and not stand outs. While I agree that the recipe is a good old one, comprising everything from Czech and Speake’s Dark Rose to By Killian’s Rose Oud, they do tend to be sort of repetitive. To showcase saffron in all its gourmand glory, I wanted something else.
For me, that’s Lubin’s Idole done by Olivia Giacobetti. I know. Idole’s supposed to be for men. I don’t care. The combination of wood, saffron and rum is too good to be resisted. And why try? This is the smell of rum on a pirate ship, of Caribbean get togethers where the night falls in two minutes flat, the sunrise is equally terse, and the parrot screeches obscenities at everyone. The wonder is that none of the crew, continually three sheets, no matter what the wind, fall off the boat. This is the smell of fermented sugar cane, polished wood, and piratical enterprise. And what makes this voyage of the blasted so original? Why the inclusion of saffron along with the rum, the black cumin (which does not smell like cumin) and the wood. Crocus where you would never expect to come across it, but that is what powers Idole. Caribbean Crocuses-who knew?