The CC comes across endless references in medieval cookbooks for turmeric as a "substitute" for saffron.
They are nothing alike.
Saffron depends fundamentally on smell. You add it as the last or semi-last step to a recipe with the volatile liquids suspended in warm water or warm milk as it were.
Turmeric has a strongly metallic taste that is sui generis. You wouldn't mistake one for the other in a million years blindfolded in your sleep. It would be like conflating cats and cheese.
It's obvious why one would be substituted for the other. Turmeric is dirt-cheap. Saffron costs more than gold. Even today the CC sees these two being "substituted" and he scoffs.
For the record, saffron is the only spice even today that you need to get from a really reputable source. What you get in the routine markets is garbage. They are hustling you silly.
Saffron is so valuable that there are specialized merchants in Spain, Switzerland, and India — the three prime producers — whose only job is to supply unadulterated saffron. They are banners of quality and you can bet your goddamn economic ass that they charge a premium to do so.
Which is still superior to getting ripped off.
The CC has met plenty of people who think that saffron is not "worth all that" and it's "over-hyped". To which the CC can only respond, you've been ripped off all your life. How would you even know? It's absolutely worth all that from pasta to pastries.
Sad, isn't it?
Even in the age of the internet where everything is everywhere, you need reputation to get the good stuff.
Where is the arbitrage, O Nobel-Prize Winnin' Efficient Markets' Theorists of Univ. of Chicago?