This honey comes from the asphodel flower of Sardinia. I thought that asphodels were a kind of narcissus, which seems a humdrum sort of bloom, but it’s a flower we had better get used to – I learned today that according to the ancient Greeks it is asphodel meadows which are the resting place of the souls of people who’ve lived lives of near equal good and evil. Surely that’s most people then – giving in to small temptations, cutting corners, ignoring what we know to be the right advice, basically selfish and lazy, but at the same time being kind to children, helping those in distress (as long as the distress is made very clear to them) and capable of spontaneous heroism.
Well, I’m quite happy to spend eternity among the flowers which produce this distinctive honey (or at least as happy as I am to spend eternity in any one place… do you think the asphodel meadows would have an internet connection?). It’s very rare – I had to order mine online – and has an exotic quality which comes both from its extraordinary crunchy texture and its fine taste.
The scent is, if not a precise balance of good and evil, at least a bizarre metallic chamomile followed by orange blossom. The jammy taste has a creamy subtle sweet finish that the Dizionario Dei Mieli Nomadi describes surprisingly accurately as ‘almond milk’.
I’m not going to sit on the fence (as if the asphodel meadows would have a fence) between equal good and evil: I’m a fan of this honey. If you’re a beekeeper who can find an asphodel meadow while you’re still alive, I’d advise you to take your hives there and look forward to the treat you have in store.
For more honey tasting and honey harvesting adventures, read my Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo, published last year by Signal Books.