Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All-Russia Honey Expo

One of the reasons we headed to Tsaritsyno last Saturday was so we could stop at the annual All-Russia Honey Exhibition that is being held on the park's grounds. As we finished up our walk through the palatial estate, we followed these signs to the square where almost a thousand vendors from all over the country are selling their artisanal honeys of all varieties.

Russians are SERIOUS about honey, loving it both for its taste and for the wide array of health benefits it provides. The mayor of Moscow himself keeps bees, ensuring the city's support of this annual gathering. You can find knock-offs or pirated versions of almost any product in Moscow: fashion, electronics, music, currency... But you had better not mess with honey.

The purity of the honey at the festival is rigorously tested and anyone attempting to sell honey made from sub-par ingredients or falsely labeled is promptly kicked out.

We've lived here long enough that both girls are "honeyphiles," too. They had to taste as many varieties as they possibly could before choosing their favorites to bring home.

Natalia loves the taste of honey made by bees using pollen from acacia trees. 

Katya prefers honey made by bees using pollen from lavender, clover or linden tree blossoms.

I love honey made from chestnut, blackberry and wild strawberry blossoms. And the honey has to come from the mountains.

In an effort to sell, sell, sell, vendors all display information about all the ailments each type of honey can cure... You name it, they claim honey can help. In all seriousness, honey has been recognized for its homeopathic benefits for centuries! I assumed it would help to calm coughs, but I remember how surprised I was the first time I heard about many of the other ailments being addressed: high blood pressure, circulatory problems, liver problems, back pain, joint pain, kidney disease, poor vision... even male impotence!

All it takes is one look at how serious the crowd is to know that Russians come to this fair firmly believing in honey's power to heal. Almost everyone leaves the fair carrying a large bag filled with a collection of honey, each type purchased to meet a particular need. I saw all kinds of people there, from diplomats to the elderly poor, all with their lists in hand; it didn't matter how expensive the honey was. Like most things in Moscow, honey isn't cheap; but you can barely see through the mob of people shuffling from stall to stall. (This is not an event to attend on your own with small children!)

It's interesting to talk with all the beekeepers; they're eager to tell you about each kind of honey and to make suggestions.

Just look at this huge container full of it! It drips like slow gold!

These types of apartment buildings surround the fair area; how ugly they are in comparison to Tsaritsyno, the palatial estate on the other side of the train tracks!

This huge pole stands at the entrance/exit to the fair. The top is decorated by different people (men, women and children) dancing in celebration of honey.

This is what we brought home. Wonder how long it will last... The kids are loving it on blini; I, on the other hand, have discovered how delicious a honey latte is...


Natalie said...

Gross! I hate honey! We always had the luxuries of it too, there was always a pie pan of honeycomb sitting on the kitchen counter in the summers in California, but I never wanted any. My friends always asked if they could come over and eat some though. What is a knock-off honey? Can you make artificial honey?

Anonymous said...

mmmmmmm...I am going to raise honey bees when my boys are BOTH in school full time...I love honey and the boys eat it on everything.

Great two posts love all the history in the next post...

Annie said...

What a happy post - except it fills me with this amazing longing to be there and see if all myself...especially with my children who love, love, love honey.

I am not particularly a honey fan myself (though this post is almost converting me) except on biscuits.

Anonymous said...

I like honey mostly theoretically - it means I always search for a source of local honey, but seldom eat it. It must be Russian in me, never new that.
We have a good number of beekeepers here in Connecticut, but nothing like what you show in Moscow.
I buy my honey from the old man about 6 miles from our house, I can see where the bees are living when I buy it.

Tina in CT said...

I bet the aroma of all the different honey was wonderful. It must have been interesting to walk around tasting and seeing all the different products.

WRGII said...


My Dad would love that!!

He still has a two hives. I don't know when he gets to them between ice skating and his other activities.