As early as the gods had names, honey was their food. And for mere mortals, the golden drizzle flowing sinuously into a teacup or slowly enveloping a cinnamon-dusted pastry is almost impossible to resist. Meltingly light on the tongue, then earthy and evocative, honey entices. The lure of honey leads back to times when food was hard-gotten. It was our first dessert the sweet theft on which we gorged without regret.
Cave paintings show hive plunderers. The Egyptians practiced apiculture, though the pillage of wild hives continued. In Greek and Roman mythology, honey was the first food, a gift of the gods; in Hebrew, honey was synonymous with the Divine Word, the Truth, because it seemed to be miraculously made, surely dropped from heaven.
Today, you can still buy honey filtered, raw, spun, crystallized, with or without comb, and usually in several varieties off the shelf of any store. You can order specialty varieties from overseas, including heather honey from Scotland or lavender honey from Provence.
If you want to buy domestic, try non-crystallizing tupelo honey, made from honeybees that feast exclusively on tupelo gum trees, which grow only on certain cliffs in a certain region of northwest Florida and south Georgia.
Honeybees are creatures of myth and mystery. Their busyness is a hackneyed cliché, but if you do the math, their frenzied buzz rings with new meaning: 55,000 flight miles and visits to two million flowers to produce one pound of honey to feed each American a pound of the sweet stuff.
Check out the May/June 2000 issue of
for more about honey, including:
• How do they do that?
• Honey Facts
• Honey Recipes