Coming from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world's most expensive spice. A native of the Mediterranean, saffron is now imported primarily from Spain, where Moslems had introduced it in the 8th century from Persia. Iranian saffron from Mashhad is generally considered the best. The name is from the Arabic word zafaran which means yellow. The French culinary term safran means 'coloured using saffron'. Its colouring properties have been as prized as its unique flavour. In India its colour is considered the epitome of beauty and is the official colour of Buddhist robes. Saffron was used to scent the baths and public halls of Imperial Rome. Pliny wrote that saffron was the most frequently falsified commodity, which has been true throughout history.Saffron appears in Persian, Moorish, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Its most common function is to colour rice yellow, as in festive Indian pilaus and risotto Milanese, where its delicate flavour make it the most famous of Italian rice dishes. It combines well with fish and seafood, famous as a key ingredient of Spanish paella as well as bouillabaisse. In England, saffron is probably best known for its use in Cornish saffron buns where it is paired with dried fruit in a yeast cake.