Follow It needs pairing with very bland base flavours to stand out, indeed.

Now, I'm assuming European cuisine or derivative.
Unlike most proper , saffron grows in (southern) Europe. I suspect this made it comparatively cheaper than, say, pepper in the distant past. Then colonial exploitation lowered the cost of imported spices and the tastes of, say, English people developed toward spicier. Now you are in northern Europe cooking w/saffron imported from… where?

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