… THE SWEET HISTORY OF HONEY

Scroll

INTRODUCTION

Food for the Gods, honey has a high symbolic value. In the Western Wold it has been the sweetener most used for centuries, until sugar overshadowed its glory and put it back in its quasi-divine role of aromatic ingredient.

The oldest representation of the fact that honey was hunted by mankind is found on the walls of a grotto near Valencia, Spain: a woman, surrounded by bees, is collecting wild honey, 7 000 years ago. Nearer to us and around 5 000 years ago, Egyptian bas-reliefs and Sumerian record tablets tell us that it was used in pharmacopoeia. Its intrinsic qualities, such as being rot-proof and extremely pure, make it immediately edible, without shedding blood and honey has therefore become a universal panacea, with very high symbolic value. In the Promised Land, that is to say in Paradise, milk and honey flow freely and are the source of utmost bliss… For honey is a nectar, the nectar of flowers, carried by bees to be stored in the honeycombs of the hive after having levied a small tax… for food.

Over long periods of time and around the Mediterranean basin, honey remains the sole sweetener. Sugar is introduced in the Western World by the Arabs, who get their supply from Persia, and it remains a high luxury product. The attempts to grow sugar cane in Sicilia are not very convincing and, in the Canary Islands, production was insufficient. Only the fifteenth century will provide an answer… in the Caribbean. The price of sugar then decreases and the status of honey changes to that of an aromatic ingredient.

As for the pleasures of the palate, it is only during the Renaissance that interest became high for the many varieties of honey flavours, which then becomes less of a utility. But let’s not forget that it was considered the basic ingredient for the nourishment of the Gods for a long period of time. The nectar of flowers being the carrier of their scent, the nature of honey itself allows us to bring to our table the subtle fragrances of their varieties, from eucalyptus to mountain spring flowers or from a summer linden to the arbutus of the guarrigue. And this is true throughout the year as the virtues of honey abolish all seasons. It is the same virtues that chefs and pastry chefs are interested in today, taking into consideration not only the type of plant it originates from, but also the terroir.

from Benedict Beaugé

OTHER ARTICLES

SELECTION OF DESSERTS WITH SEASONAL FRUITS

Let’s discover the innovative and comforting creations of our pastry chefs who turn seasonal fruits into edible works of art. Each creation is a celebration of flavours and textures that winter offers. Join us on this delicious adventure where the creativity and passion of our pastry chefs give life to desserts that are as beautiful as they are tasty, just the perfect antidote to the winter gloom.

SELECTION EASTER 2024

Discover the exquisite creations made by the Relais Desserts pastry chefs and chocolate makers to celebrate Easter. Their culinary works take you into a world of flavour and creativity, embodying the artisanal excellence and passion for sweet treats. Immerse yourself in an unforgettable taste experience, where each bite evokes the magic of this gourmet tradition.

FEMMES RURALES DU LITTORAL (RURAL COASTAL WOMEN COOPERATIVE)

Relais Desserts and the Association of Engaged Chocolatiers united in support of the Rural Coastal Women project in Cameroon.