Maison du Curcuma Plaine des Gregues Reviews
Maison Mystery Oct 19, 2011
I was almost ready to write Maison du Curcuma off as a total loser. The entire operation isn’t much larger than a shack (though a colorful and pretty shack), and for all intents and purposes merely a retail outlet for locally grown spices. The woman behind the counter was quite friendly but spoke no English, so I was confused over her gestures which seemed to communicate I should hang around.
So I hung out. There were several rows of folding chairs in back, sitting before a small TV monitor where a video soon began. It looked to be decently produced, but meaningless to moi and only lasted about five minutes. I thought “gee” - all you need is a short video to magically transform a gift shop into a museum, when the credits began to roll. At the very end, the video stopped on a frame with two words: Francais and Anglais.
Sure enough, the counter lady returned and fired the video up a second time, now narrated in English and even subtitled during interviews. My attitude quickly reached positive ground and the video was quite informative, though I was befuddled: it was all about saffron. What happened to the perfume plants? I hadn’t seen any saffron laid out for sale, so I enunciated “saffron” to the counter lady and she gladly escorted me to a heap of bags containing red powder and labeled Curcuma. When I stressed the word saffron again, she tapped the bag where it said “Curcuma Deluxe” and seemed to think this proved everything. Well, this didn’t look anything like the saffron I had purchased for my wife in Dubai and was considerably less costly, but I purchased a bag to further my investigation after returning home.
A comedy of errors explains everything. First, shame on Lonely Planet writers for failing to research subject matter. Curcuma is the plant used to produce turmeric (curcuma and turmeric both have the same derivation), which happens to be known as “poor man’s saffron.” As a cooking herb, the guide book was misleading to identify this as a perfume ingredient. But the locals were equally inept, quite insistent that turmeric was the same thing as saffron (remember the video was only about harvesting and transforming curcuma into turmeric, but consistently called it “saffron” throughout, as was the counter lady when I explicitly asked for saffron).
Bottom line is that Maison du Curcuma is an interesting diversion if you are in the neighborhood, but clearly not a destination.
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