They say that it’s hard to leave Greece because your feet get stuck in its honey. I do love Greece, and I do love its honey. I also love living somewhere that’s close enough to let you drive to Greece for the weekend, on a whim.
I like getting out of the car once we’re over the border, and stopping at a little minimarket where I always buy ‘Greek’ yoghurt (except here they just call it ‘yoghurt’), a pot of the Papadopoulos chocolate wafer sticks my grandmother used to buy me, and some salt and vinegar crisps. A British friend of mine from Kosovo tells me she always stops there and buys fresh milk. It’s funny, the things you miss when they’re gone.
But apart from these petty luxuries, the other pleasure in getting out of the car is the smell. The air almost squeaks with pine resin. I take deep breaths.
And when I get my chance to eat the honey made by bees foraging on these same trees, I take deep gulps of that too. Pine tree honey tastes exactly as you’d expect – the sweetness overlaid with a medicinal zing, and a licorice tang that makes it really interesting for combining with other foods. Best of all, in my opinion, is the Greek pine tree honey drizzled over the cool cutting whiteness of Greek yoghurt.
Greek yoghurt doesn’t usually survive the warm car journey back to Kosovo, but the pine tree honey does. That makes it easier to leave Greece, because I take a little bit of the terroir with me. Then I can sit in Pristina on a grey Tuesday afternoon and with one lick of the tip of the spoon I’m back in a pine forest, with a weekend stretching ahead of me.
My book, Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo, is now available on Amazon