I just finished reading the book Travels in Blood and Honey – becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo by Elizabeth Gowing.
I have followed her blog, One Hundred Days of Honey, for awhile. On it she shares lots of recipes which include honey or reviews of honey. ( I should snap on this idea and offer to review peoples honey if they would like to send a sample;-) ) Anyway, after reading this book, next time I am reading and commenting on her blog, Elizabeth will be a very real person to me. She shared so very deeply in her book and I have a new found deep respect and admiration for her!
I have wanted to read the book and just recently found it at the bookstore. I was mesmerized right away.Not only is it a wonderful story of a beginning beekeeper, this is special, she starts keeping them in Kosovo, where she takes language lessons to be able to communicate with the locals. And not just one language mind you, but two, Albanian and Serbian! Her husband gave her a hive as a birthday present. The hive was on the land of a beekeeper who lived in the country outside of Pristina, where they lived. Elizabeth paints such magical description of her interactions with the beekeeper Adem and his family. Throughout the book is her stories of meeting both Albanian and Serbian beekeepers, interlaced with many other stories of her daily encounters and volunteerism in this unique land. I would like to meet Elizabeth! I would venture to guess that most people would not strive to understand and immerse themselves so thoroughly in a culture where they knew they were not going to be living for long. She does just the opposite! Besides taking language lessons and learning beekeeping, she strives to really understand and connect with the people she meets and to learn the history and culture of the area. She starts many cultural and community ventures including, but not limited to, setting up venues where locals may come and sell their homemade goods, such as honey and needlework. This lady thoroughly immersed herself in this new temporary homes culture and her stories will make you have a real flavor of the area!
From this book I learned so much about Kosovo and its history and its future. It has a rich, diverse, sometimes tragic, violent history, but also a beautiful, hopeful future. The picture Elizabeth describes is of a generous, hospitable peoples, with a delicious food culture! Intermixed throughout are lots of recipes and cooking techniques that make one long to try and create them at home! This book should appeal to history buffs, foodies, armside travelers, beekeepers, and anyone else who just enjoys a wonderful non-fiction read:) I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it! And Elizabeth herself… I just have so much respect for her courage, honesty, integrity and ingenuity, besides her writing style is quite engaging!
Herbal and Honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx