In 2002 I traded in being a lawyer to become a chef. This was largely because I found law a destructive discipline that usually makes people sad; cooking on the other hand is creative and tends to make people happy.
For me, food is able to please people in the way that a hug or kiss can lift the spirits. Of all the complex forms of food honey is a raw, essential, elemental food that epitomises good eating; it is all the obvious things – nutritious, sweet, perfumed and healthy but it subtly hints at the fact that all is well with the world. After all, if there is good honey there must be plenty of quality wild pollen for the bees to rummage through and therefore a thriving eco system.
Conversely the more orderly the natural world becomes, the more we plant crops and do away with wild flowers, the harder it is for the bees to make honey. So it was for me, I’d become stifled by sterile city slicking and, before taking up cooking I fled to Spain and spent a year living out of a Land Rover with my wife, writing a book about mountain biking (The Trailrider Guide, Spain).
During this period we discovered a remarkable town in southern Spain sandwiched between a vast natural wilderness and a huge olive growing region that stretched for hundreds of miles.
We camped on the steep lower slopes of a mountain on thin terraces that overlooked the farmland that stretched to the horizon whilst behind us bees thronged through the aromatic mountain herbs. We drank wine overlooking this domain by a log fire as the sun set and all around us there were bees.
The campsite owner kept bees and he had select honeys like fine wines. There were distinct mountain flowers and herbs in the area and each flowered at different times so, if he collected his honey in unison with each blossom, he could capture honey purely from certain types of flower. There were various distinct flavours but the most memorable was rosemary honey; a dark, rich caramel flavour easily identifiable as rosemary. He sold it in empty glass orange juice bottles. I made sticky ribs with dates and honey cooked over an open fire and devoured them after long mountain bike rides in the mountains. For the recipe visit my web site www.personalchefcornwall.com.
We offered to publicise this man’s campsite but he said “Why would you want to spoil it?” so I have refrained from giving the name of this quaint Spanish town.