Americans have a funny relationship with honey. To many of us, it’s that sweet syrup in the jar with the feather-topped woman, or the gloopy stuff stuck inside the crevasses of a plastic bear.
In France, honey is a Big Deal and there’s boutiques like Maison du Miel, and vendors at the outdoor markets, which sell nothing but honey and honey-related products. (And believe me, you’d be surprised how many there are.)
Various types of honeys are said to have healing properties, although I don’t eat them for my health: I’ve learned to enjoy the many different varieties available in France, and I switch them around and use a particular kind, depending on what I’m baking or simply for eating.
In Paris, there’s a few ruchiers (beehives) in the city, the most well-known being in the Jardin du Luxembourg, whose honey is available sporadically. But few folks know that in our National Veterinary Museum, there are hives as well. And the good news is it’s almost in the middle of Paris.
The UNAF Boutique sits quietly on the edge of the Marais, which I pass all the time, and I’ve hardly even seen anyone in this treasure of a spot. Not a store, per se, but jars of the delicious nectar from the hives in veterinary school are sold here, amongst the piles of paperwork that seem to proliferate in France, apparently even for something as innocuous as an apiary.
Madame Yvon, who runs the boutique, happily spooned me a sample from a jar, and the aftertaste of the honey had a balmy, minty quality to it. Made from tilleul (linden) and érable (maple), this honey is slightly thick, perfect for spreading on buttered toast, or mixing into an ice cream custard, which would give the ice cream a supple texture and a haunting, natural sweetness. This honey also would make a gift for anyone who’d really appreciate something unusual from Paris. I bought three jars myself, and plan to go back for more.
Related Links and Posts:
The Opera Apiary in Paris (Christian Science Monitor)
Honey Mania (101cookbooks)
The Buzz on French Honey: My visit to a French apiary
Moist Honey Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
Alice Medrich’s Honey Ice Cream (Orangette)
Saffron Honey at Gouymanyat
Honey from the Jardin du Luxenbourg (Polly Vous Française)