Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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palillo Escobedia scabrifolia, a herb of the family Scrophulariaceae which is found in various countries of Latin America, sometimes also called raiz de color (colouring root) or (misleadingly, since it only resembles saffron in its colouring effect) azafrán. Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz (1984) writes:

Palillo is a Peruvian herb [of which the root is] used dried and ground to give a yellow colour to food. Since so many Peruvian foods are yellow or white, I’m sure it is a reflection of pre-Conquest Inca sun (and moon) worship. … I have found that using half the amount of turmeric gives much the same result.