Saffron has a gorgeous color, a subtle flavor and a long history.... Seriously long - how's 50,000 years sound? If you know anything about what makes me tick, you know I am geeked up about the cultural ties that connect us to our ancestors in prehistory. 50,000 years ago, artists in present-day Iran used saffron-based pigments to make paintings in caves. If that doesn't stop you mid-paragraph, nothing will. Now, they were using saffron that long ago, but once our forebears figured out the basics of selection, they stopped settling for collecting saffron and began cultivating it. Our ancestors began cultivating saffron about three thousand years ago.