There are many symptoms of beekeeper madness, but the compulsive collection of honey is primary. Philosophical types might choose to debate this, as honey – for some – might actually be the cause, rather than the symptom.
So which comes first, the honey or the bee?
The container in front started life as a Salvadoran soda bottle, but it is more precious now by far, because our cleaning lady, Ana, gave it to us. Her family keeps bees in El Salvador, and this is some of theirs. Her relative, the beekeeper, says his bees eat lots of coffee and sugar cane nectar. It is darker than anything else we have right now, but it is smooth and mild. Many beekeepers in other parts of the world use existing containers to package their honey, so this is truly the real thing. Wednesday is the beekeeper club meeting, and I am proudly bringing this one along (last month a member brought honey from Serbia).
This collection does not even begin to capture the range of honeys we have bought and et over the past few months. This grouping includes honey from here, from the Illinois prairie, from an island off Australia, and from two different places in Greece (as well as El Salvador), but we have had some cool "forest honey" from Germany that came from pine forests (Pine! Who knew?) My husband gets mad when I say it tasted German, but it really does. Addle-brained as it may be, it gives me a sense of how cooking sensibilities might have started in the environment.
We had lots of little jars with about a half inch of the gold stuff left as we went into Memorial Day weekend (May 30th, etc.), so we figured we would send off all the little gourmet bits by baking them into a Honey and Milk Custard (yes, MaryEllen's recipe). The recipe is linked at the right if you want it. It was divine, served to a gathering of people at a friend's house. The cup of honey it used is equivalent to the life's foragings of 96 bees (bees gather nectar equivalent to about half a teaspoon during that period of their life: the first half is spent nursing other bees, making honeycomb, and so on).
Finally, there are profound luggage implications for the honey fetish: my husband is on a business trip to Colorado and Southern California, so when he asked if there was anything he could get me... Anyway, he got two jars near Colorado Springs and we consulted at some length, via telephone, whether the laptop bag or (stuffed into socks) the main suitcase was the place. We have speculated on whether the California honey will taste of oranges. Will keep you informed.