So today’s topic is every one’s favorite sweetener, Honey! There is a lot of information on honey so just a few high lights.
Per Toussaint-Samat, bees (not today’s honey bees but their ancestors) originated in Asia, then traveled through the Middle East to arrive in Europe and Africa giving us honey. Honey was so widely used and so popular , almost every culture that has access to honey has a myth about how honey was handed down by the gods to man. Honey has been found in Egyptian tombs, that still retained scent and color. (http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/yuyat.htm).
Honey is made from from bees, collecting nectar into their honey sacs or honey stomachs, mixing with the enzymes in the saliva and the gastric juices. The quality of the nectar is directly linked to the quality of the honey, not to mention the flavor. The sweeter the nectar the better the honey. The bees then regurgitate the liquid honey into wax combs for storage where the honey solidifies. Due to the low water content, honey, if stored properly will not spoil or ferment readily, thus making honey and excellent food source for bees and consumable sweetener for humans.
There is a Roman recipe where fig leaves are stuffed with wheat flour, lard, eggs and brains, cooked in a chicken or kid broth then after draining, cooked a second time in boiling honey. (Toussant-Samat, pp. 19) I think I am going to leave that recipe for redacting another day though!
Honey was used as a sweetener, either with sugar or instead of sugar but also as a glaze or coating. Honey bakes well, boils well and dribbles well over most foods.
I was once told that honey is one of the few items made in nature that humans have yet to figure out how to reproduce. For some reason I find this comforting to know.