Honey : A Taste of Fall
Image courtesy of Paik666 from DeviantArt.com
Autumn. What does that word remind you of? Let me guess. The crunch of yellowed leaves, the nip in the air, the heavy weight of a mug filled to the brim with pumpkin spice coffee, or perhaps the warm scent of cinnamon mingling with the distinctive sweet smell of baked apples. Sweater weather, woodsmoke in your hair: you get the picture.
But for me? Fall is embodied in the crunch of a delicately fragrant Jiro persimmon, and the satisfying umami aftertaste of a rich stew of Kabocha, a Japanese variety of winter melon, and kombu, an edible kelp. And, being Chinese American, autumn for me has always meant mooncakes. Those intricate delicacies with a sweet, dense filling of red bean or lotus seed paste, enveloped by a thin pastry skin imprinted with a Chinese character on top. All of these things presaged autumn, but only one thing meant it had arrived: the first taste of my mother’s honey lemon tea.
My mom, a Baby Boomer but a proud member of the iGeneration, as she likes to say, is nonetheless a devout believer in traditional Chinese medicine. That’s why, on the first day of September, she scours through our local farmers’ market for the highest quality raw honey she can find. Do you have wildflower, sage, or clover honey? Where’s the nectar source? What’s that? That’s not even in the Bay Area!
Eventually, she ends up discovering the best the market has to offer. Then, once we’re home, she adds a generous spoonful of honey to a glass mug of piping hot water, allowing the amber-colored tendrils to dance with the swirl of the stirring spoon. After the honey has dissolved, she squeezes a quarter of a large lemon into the cup. The lemon’s pulp and seeds stipple the honeyed water, and barely drift towards the bottom of the cup when the wedge itself is dropped in.