To kick this month off, Adam tested the waters with one of the ultimate aphrodisiacs: oysters. Not the most accessible of foods, right?
Honey is a different matter. It’s simple to procure, safe to consume in any preparation and won’t break the bank. Take into consideration its comely amber jewel tone, its local allure, that pleasurable sweetness, its sensuously lazy and trickling texture and … whew — is it getting hot in here???
Let’s take it slow and start at the beginning.
Honey is produced by bees using nectar from flowers, which is regurgitated (how sexy!), evaporated and stored in wax honeycombs inside hives. The more than 60,000 bees in just one hive can cumulatively travel up to 55,000 miles, visiting over 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey. Those bees are seriously getting busy.
A general rule for honey tasting: the darker the color, the stronger the flavor, as the nectar’s source — clover, orange blossoms or other flowers – determines both. Cliff drawings from early civilizations in Africa, India and Spain indicate honey was collected for food use over 8,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians used honey to embalm their dead and make offerings of the sweet treat, believed to treat sterility and impotence, to their fertility god, Min.
Honey’s status as an aphrodisiac stuck in medieval times, when newlyweds would drink mead — a fermented beverage made with honey — to ensure fertility during the first nights they spent together. Thus, the “honeymoon.”
I’ve tried mead before but wasn’t impressed. I can think of others ways I’d rather enjoy honey. In fact, I’ve found five. Shall we get down to it?
– Here’s a practical use during these icky winter months when couples share their germs and wind up in the sick house: the hot toddy. Brew hot tea, squeeze in a little lemon, pour in a generous shot (or three) of your preferred brown liquor – in our house that’s bourbon — and swirl in a nice stream of honey. Forget Nyquil — this is the medicine you really need. After one or two of these, you might forget your illness and find a better reason to hit the sack.
– Fuel up for your Valentine’s activities with this light snack: the honey cup. Top a serving of yogurt (Greek style is especially good for protein) with chopped apple, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. You’ll feel healthy, happy and ready to rendezvous.
– Ditch overpriced bottled dressings and make your own sweet vinaigrette. Mix oil, vinegar, your choice of herbs, a little lemon juice and a spoonful of honey. If your significant other is anything like mine, frugality is a turn on, so make that salad!
– Two words: honey butter. Do I really need to explain this one? Blend the two and smear it on whatever floats your boat – pancakes, waffles, cornbread, biscuits … your finger. Oh, YES.
– Overexcited in the kitchen and burn your hand? Try the honey burn remedy. The NYT verifies that a smear of honey can help heal a small burn faster. So if you do get hot (and bothered) this month while cooking and baking, whip it out. The honey bottle, that is.
Need to track down local honey in your area? Try the National Honey Board’s locator tool to find a producer near you. And share in the comments section below how you use honey in your kitchen – let us count the ways!