Sunday, November 13, 2011


I went on a bit of a binge for breakfast today. I usually don't each too much bread and avoid butter altogether. Today I had home-made buns with butter and honey, accompanied by my favourite Mattekelle tea. It is a combination that I used to enjoy regularly as a child but have not tried in many years.

Good honey is the key and for best results should be accompanied by freshly baked bread (I ate some rolls that my mother made yesterday afternoon, so it was not a perfect combination, but it was good enough).

There is now a fairly good supply of local honey available. When we were children we had to rely mostly on imported Australian honey. The Australian honey is not bad, it is well packaged in nice jars (usually with a pretty picture of a bee) and has a rich golden colour, almost like golden syrup. Unfortunately (to my palette at least) it does not taste as good as the local honey.

I had been spoiled in my childhood by my grandfather, who used to return from his shooting trips to the jungles with a bottle of wild honey. This was honey that was collected by the Veddah's and was usually filled into an old arrack bottle, stopped with a cork or bit of wood cut into the shape of the mouth of the bottle. (I have heard stories that the Veddah's collect the honey in old kerosene oil tins and then empty it into the arrack bottles). Because the stopper was never perfect, there was some paper and string tied around the mouth. It was very messy, with some honey oozing down the side, soaking the grubby bits of paper and string.

The packaging was terrible, but the product was delicious, even if it had bits of honeycomb inside it. The honeycomb is perfectly edible (I think) and the beeswax has a nice consistency to it. We did not bother with the impurities, we just ate the stuff.

The Australian honey, for all its nice packaging, was never as sweet. After my grandfather died supplies of honey stopped and for years the only thing available was the Australian honey. I tried buying some honey from villages when on holiday but it was not good. Although the bottles looked the same it was heavily adulterated with treacle and sugar. After a few days the sugar and treacle starts to crystallise and it needs to be thrown away.

A few years back I discovered a small plastic bottle of honey in the supermarket. I was delighted because the dark, slightly messy contents looked very familiar. When I tasted it, it was exactly as I remembered it and we have been buying it ever since.

When I looked at the bottle this morning it claimed to be 'wild honey', I could not quite believe this, so I did a bit of research on it, it does seemed to be farmed, but in small remote villages, so its probably pretty close to wild honey.

I found that the company that is producing the honey is even trying to export it, in slightly smarter packaging.

I was amused to see an expiry date on the bottles, probably necessitated by law or possibly, requirements of sale. I don't think pure honey can expire, the Veddah's even used it as a preservative. It will not last for ever, but it lasts pretty long and will surely get eaten before anything can possibly go wrong, so who cares about expiry dates?

PS. For reference on how Veddah's preserve meat, Google books has an extract from Samuel Bakers Rifle & Hound in Ceylon(incidentally a book that I remember seeing in my grandfather's library) here.


Delilah said...

yum. big honey fan myself. my favorite is waffles smeared with butter and drowned in honey :)

cadence said...

It's virtually impossible to find good pure Kithul jaggery and treacle now a days. After many dissapointing attempts, I finally managed to find some good stuff at Cargills. Simple packaging but delish stuff, it's a brand called Ranmale. I'll be buying them now on! Nothing like a few spoonfuls of jaggery shavings over a piece of piping hot kiribath on a Sunday morning! :D

santhoshi said...

U should have put photos of your breakfast binge!

Jack Point said...

Welcome back Delilah, where have you been hiding?

It looks like it took some honey to bring you back to the blogosphere :)

Cadence: Shall check that out. There was a Matara Kade at the corner of W.A Silva Mw Pamankade that used to have some decent stuff, but that was a few years ago.

Santhoshini - maybe next time I will!.

Delilah said...

lol yeah. i can be tempted and lured out with honey any day ;)
but yeah been too busy to write. or perhaps 'uninspired' is the word. if someone gives me a topic i could probably write about it but when i try to think of something to blog about my mind is blank.

Jack Point said...


I think I understand that feeling.

To write one needs to think and to think one needs time and the seeds of a few ideas, which usually originate in what one reads, sees, experiences or through conversation.

In the rat race none of this is possible.

PP said...

there's a brand at arpico (i forget the name :( ) that has cardamom infused honey, which is awesome! comes in a tiny bottle though.