Now, I love honey. I like it on toast, I make a wonderful bread with it, many desserts use it. It has been around for more than eight thousand years, that we know of. It was used to coat wounds on the battlefield! (Not recently, that I know of) Jars of it have been found in Pharaohs’ tombs and it was still viable! Yep, Honey is popular stuff. But did you know . . .
Many years ago, I was invited to a Chinese New Year dinner. It was in Chinatown and very few people there spoke English. I was lucky enough to be seated beside a woman who did speak English. And it was a fascinating trip through each course. She warned me early on that there would be many courses. And while each offering was delectable, I did pace myself. This kind woman answered all my questions about the food I was eating. I was curious. As one of the few Occidentals at the table I’m sure many of my questions were amusing. And then came the soup course.
It was delicious. Since the waiter had given me this soup using Chinese to identify it, I didn’t have a clue what it was. So, I turned to my dinner companion. She asked if I was enjoying it, to which I replied emphatically: yes! It was at this point that she got an odd look on her face, smiled and said “I’ll tell you later”. Now my nature is one that does not backdown from curiosity. I wanted to know. She explained that if she told me, I would stop eating it. I put my spoon down, thought about it for a moment, took another sip and said no, I want to know. That’s how I found out it was called Bird’s Nest Soup. What does that actually mean you ask? Oh, let me explain…
My companion told me that actual bird’s nests are boiled to extract the saliva that holds the nest together. The effluents, feathers and other detritus are, hopefully, boiled off. What you’re left with is the stock for the soup. I thought about it for a moment. Smiled. Took another mouthful and said: Bird Spit Soup, I like it! I have since watched documentaries on how this particular soup is made and it does look disgusting. I would eat it again in a second!
I don’t know why I starting wondering about honey. But I did read up on it. Honey is basically churned up in the stomach of one bee, vomited into the mouth of another and then deposited on the honeycombs. That is what we collect and put on our toast in the morning. Yum!
But hey, none of that matters. Isn’t it all about taste? And what about that famous coffee from Asia that gains its exotic flavour after having passed through the intestines of a civet cat? And you wonder why I drink tea?