Honey

Honey was as widely used in ancient cuisine as sugar is in modern cookery. A rock drawing in Spain dating to 15,000 BCE depicts two men climbing up cords to reach a nest of bees. The oldest alcoholic drink known to man may have been discovered when honey, dripping from bee hives would collect in pools of rain water. Wild yeast would then consume the sugar, creating a beverage with a nice little buzz.

Beekeeping was practiced along the banks of the Nile as early as 3000 BCE. Since spring arrives earlier to Upper than to Lower Egypt, beekeepers would place their hives on boats and descend the Nile in stages as the flowers and other plants bloomed.

Greek lyric poets mixed honey and wine to entice the muses, and Roman sybarites left us various testimonials to the many exquisite culinary preparations in which honey was a main ingredient. The consistency, aroma and flavor of honey are amazingly variable and depend largely on the vegetation in the area where the bees are foraging.

 Honey can be collected in both spring and fall, but the spring honey-harvest is preferable. The sweetest honeys are those made from the nectar of: rosemary, orange, acacia blossom, and lavender. Pumpkin honey has a particularly rich and earthy quality. Colors in honey can range from transparent yellow to extremely dark brown. Acacia honey, for instance, is a straw-like yellow, Chestnut honey is brown, and orange-flower honey is amber-hued with warm red tones.

 

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