Blog Post # 1
This is Tia Linda, one of several “food friends” who will be collaborating on this blog, and the lucky soul who gets to welcome you to Savor the Southwest, a blog Savoring the wild plants, herbs, and animals that grow here in the Southwest. The focus for my part of the blog is to converse with you about the animals and insects that we live among. You might already be raising animals, or may flirting with the idea. Some of my posts may be “notes from the hive”. Some will come from the corrals; some from the coops. And all will have an offering of some relevant food or recipe.
This week we greet Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and less well known, from the Celts Countries, Samhain. Samhain means the “End of Summer” and is considered the years third and final harvest. It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st. Originally a “Feast of the Dead” it was celebrated by leaving food offerings on altars and lighting candles. Extra chairs were set out as an invite to the spirits of loved ones to come home while the veil between worlds thinned. Symbols at Samhain included apples, Jack-o-lanterns, and gourds, among others.
“Apis Mellifera Becomes Apis Calavera” (a quilt by me). On display at Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery here in Tucson; proceeds will be split equally between Raices (to support one of our best local art venues) and Xerces Society (for quality bee research and protection)
Dia de los Muertos, whose roots are traced back to an Aztec Festival, is celebrated throughout modern Mexico as well as the Southwest. Favorite foods and beverages of departed loved ones are placed at private alters or gravesides. In the spirit of both Dia de los Muertos and Samhain (and Asian and Afirican cultures have similar rituals) my offering this year extends beyond the human family to the insect world. Because of my love of bees, and because they are so crucial to our food supply, I am Remembering the vast number of honeybees colonies that have died in the past few years of Colony Collapse Disorder. By setting out honeycomb at my beehive alter, I am both welcoming them home and acknowledging their place – very significant place – in the interconnectedness of all things.
So the first food offering to you from this blog is: Honeycomb. I offer it both as a food of interest, as well as to the departed bees that may visit my alter. If you have never eaten honey straight from the honeycomb, you have a real treat in store. It is the purest form of honey that we can eat. It is not processed by human hands at all. In fact, the last “hands” to touch it were those of the worker bees, as they placed the wax capping over hexagonal cells holding the honey.
What do you do with the wax? You can swallow it;it will pass right through your system. Or just spit it out. Some people like to chew it like gum. Find a local beekeeper and taste honey from the plants/trees that live in your environment. Mainstream markets will be unlikely to have comb honey, so visit your farmers markets and local health food stores. And consider getting to know the local beekeepers around you. More than that, consider becoming a beekeeper yourself! It will transform you from being “just” a food consumer, into being a food producer – even if you keep just one hive. Small scale beekeepers play a powerful role these days … but that is for a future post!
Bye for now.