The lovely Kolomenskoye Park, on the south side of Moscow, is currently hosting the annual Honey Fair (until the end of Oct). Inside an enormous yellow tent, next to the children’s funfair, there are row on row of stalls selling honey, honeycomb, wax, honey drink, and all things related. Beekeepers and traders come from all across Russia to sell their honey which is, of course, the best in the world!
The choice is mind-boggling. First you have to decide which of the hundreds of stalls, all looking alike, you should buy from. Perhaps you have a preferred area – the Altai has a good reputation for honey, or maybe Pskov, known as “The Land of flowing honey”. Having selected a stall you need to decide on the flavour. As soon as you stop you will be offered tastes of the different flavours. After about 8 tiny scoops I was beginning to feel a little sick!
Each type of honey has its own, reputed, medical and health benefits. For instance clover honey is good for the heart whilst coriander honey is good for male potency! Linden, chestnut and acacia honeys are amongst the most popular. We eventually decided upon sunflower (‘Подсолнечниковый‘) honey which is good for gastro-intestinal disease and the respiratory system but is especially good for the heart and the circulatory system.
Once you have made your choice your honey will be decanted from enormous containers into 1/2kg or 1kg tubs. I have no idea what the Russians do with all this honey. You can of course cook with it, spread it on bread and toast, or put it in tea (but not boiling tea, the water should only be 40C). Last night some friends said that they have a little bit with cheese or crackers as an hors d’oevre. But then what? We still have a lot of honey left from our 1/2kg!
Russia produces around 65,000 tonnes of honey a year. More on the different types you can buy is here.