Looking for a sensual experience this Valentine’s Day? Try some honey. Just saying the word makes you start to feel its silky timbre. Slowly swirl a spoonful onto your tongue and, well, you get the gist!
Honey was known as the nectar of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The word ‘honeymoon’ derives from the ancient Persian custom of newly married couples drinking a fermented honey drink, called mead, for a whole month (or moon) to enhance their marital and lovemaking skills. Today, you might call your sweetheart your ‘honey’ as well, showing how pervasive the connotation of the word and its derivation are in our culture.
Bees create honey by flitting from flower to flower, fertilizing blooms as they collect the nectar. Because it is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture, honey is an ingredient in a variety of beauty products including creams, shampoos and conditioners.
Natural health practitioners extoll honey’s antimicrobial properties. Claudia Keel, an herbalist and naturopathic healer in New York City, prescribes raw honey with ginger as a winter remedy for sore throats and makes a honeyed onion juice extract for coughs, a desirable brew with the resurgence of whooping cough. She also points out that it is an ideal preservative. If you make your own jam, adding honey gives it a longer shelf life. A product called Medihoney, made from prized manuka honey from New Zealand, has recently been approved for treatment of severe burns.
“To develop your palate for honey, begin by tasting different ones,” says Scott Forler, creator of the website www.honeytraveler.com. “Honey, like wine, has hundreds or perhaps thousands of varieties.” Notice the way each honey will differ in appearance, color, texture, aroma, taste and even aftertaste, which is determined by whether it’s blossom or nectar honey from flowers and honeydew, or fir or forest honey from the sweet excretions of insects, resulting in a darker, more intense flavor. Honey is also affected by seasonal and weather conditions.
Honey image via Shutterstock