The Honey Pot
The eating of honey in one form or another by humans has a long history.
Honey is older than humanity and certainly older than civilization.
The bees that make honey were around long before humans first set foot upon the Earth and are likely to still be here when we are gone.
Our planet would not be such a green and wondrous place without the bees. Apart from producing honey they see to it that many of the plants we depend on for food keep on keeping on.
There is natural sugar in honey, making it suitable as a replacement for white sugar in tea and coffee.
The best honey I have ever tasted comes from Yamba in northern New South Wales, Australia.
It is a beach honey. It is light in color and texture and spreads well on a slice of tank loaf.
There is forest honey which is darker and heavier.
There is also desert honey but I haven't had anything to do with it. I suspect it has much in common with beach honey.
Some years ago there was a shortage of bees in the USA.
This shortage of bees affected everything from the grape industry to the wine industry and almost everything else that is grown and harvested. The price of honey also shot up.
It is hard to say when information about honey first appeared. Hippocrates, the Ancient Greek father of medicine, thought of honey as a natural tonic that can pick you up when you are ill and also can be used to promote good health.
References to honey can also be found in the Old Testament of the Bible. There is the story of Samson posing a riddle via the use of a lion's skull made into a bee hive.
There are grizzly accounts of human heads of enemies being preserved in large jars of honey. Rather an expensive exercise.
The Ancient Egyptians and also the Romans were aware of the benefits of honey.
Napoleon, during the Egypt campaign, got the notion that the bee was symbolic of power to the Ancient Egyptians.
He was so taken with the Egyptian hieroglyph for the bee that he came to wear it and have it worn by his family.
Later it was discovered that the bee was actually the symbol for lower Egypt.Even so, it was no doubt the symbol of lower Egypt because the bee as well as the honey stood for good times in that region of ancient Egypt.
It was the French, thanks to the Egypt campaign of Napoleon, that there was plenty of interest in the late 18th and early to late 19th Centuries for things of an Ancient Egyptian nature. This included the image of the bee.
Of Violet Crumbles and Baklava
Honey as Food
In Australia and I am sure elsewhere the chocolate covered honeycomb is very popular. It is a sweet crunchy snack you can have anytime.
The most famous of such treats, at least throughout Australia, would have to be the Violet Crumble bar with its unique purple wrapping. Legend has it the first Violet Crumble bar was made in 1913 and was an instant hit.
An even older snack with an uncertain history behind it is baklava. In Australia the Turks and the Greeks tend to make it though anyone who has traveled in those parts of the world might have a go at doing so.
We know it was a favorite among the Byzantines. There is the possibility that baklava originated in ancient Mesopotamia.
In Syria baklava in made with sugar syrup but this is not the way I like it.
The baklava I enjoy is made with light pastry, crushed nuts and honey syrup. This treat is literally soaked in honey syrup. If it is not dripping with this syrup when you bite into it then it isn't good baklava.
It is great to have with either Greek or Turkish coffee though other types of coffee are okay in a pinch.
Possibly even older than baklava is the notion of spreading honey on bread. Then there are cakes where honey takes the place of sugar from sugar cane.
Medicine from the Sun
Honey as Medicine
Hippocrates may not have been the first person to discover the medicinal benefits of honey and he certainly hasn't been the last person to see honey as medicine.
He did, however, put honey into the context of something that is good for you and can be used as a pick-me-up in times of illness.
It is possible that honey can improve the skin. With this in mind you see it in soaps and shampoos. In any event, it smells nice.
Royal jelly, a particular kind of honey, is said to retard the aging process. How much truth there is in this I cannot say. It has been used in horror movies, however, to emphasis the notion that too much of a good thing can turn out really bad.
Honey has been used to either combat a cold or to ease a sore throat caused by the flu. It can be found in lozenges and in other cold and flu remedies.
One family recipe calls for a dollop of honey in boiling water with lemon juice and a tea spoon of rum. Orange juice may also be added. The water needs to be on the boil to melt the honey into the other ingredients. This, of course, won't cure a cold or the flu but it will make you feel better. For a child you would leave the rum out.
I sometimes have honey in my tea or coffee as a substitute for sugar and as a way of pepping myself up.
A Drink with Viking Approval
Honey as an Alcoholic Drink
Mead or honey wine has a colorful history that spans many cultures.
It was enjoyed in Ancient Greece. Certainly it was a spring and summer drink.
It is still very popular in places such as Finland and Poland where it continues to be an excellent drink for spring and summer.
It was very popular among the Viking people and also the Saxons. When they came to Britain they brought the art of making mead with them.
Spices can be added to the mead mix to give it added bite. Nevertheless it can be surprisingly powerful. Sometimes the sweetness of it can hide its potency.
It lost ground in Britain some time ago but it is regaining that ground. It has yet to become popular in Australia but, after having sampled it myself, I can see that it will eventually emerge from the obscurity it is presently in.
Good enough to wrap a Doctor Who adventure around.
Honey is a word still often used to address a beloved one in the hope of gaining sweetness in return.
Honey has appeared, in one way or another, in our literature.
There's Winny the Pooh, a fictional bear that began his fascination with the honey pot, thanks to A. A. Milne, way back in 1924.
Bees and bee stings have appeared in the detective fiction of writers such as Agatha Christie.
Not so long ago an outer space bee appeared in Doctor Who and, yes, Agatha Christie was there as a semi-fictional, semi-factual character.
There have been horror movies in which royal jelly has been used to turn ordinary women into monstrous creatures.
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