I’ve never been a big honey consumer. Sure, I usually have a messy plastic jar of the stuff somewhere in my kitchen, gathering dust, but it usually only comes out when I have a sore throat and want a cup of tea. But shortly after we arrived in Samos, a verdant, breathtakingly gorgeous Greek island in the eastern Aegean, I heard that the island was famous for its excellent honey.
The first time we drove on the dizzying road leading west from Pythagorion out to Kampos, in the island’s west, we passed a slew of small shops and stands selling honey. My interest was piqued but I didn’t bother to stop. Honey is honey, and since I’m used to the gloppy, factory produced cheap stuff that has the consistency of glue, I was doubtful that it could be any better than what I’m used to.But the next morning, I changed my mind after trying some loukoumades (right), a delicious Greek treat that resembles a small fried donut, but comes drenched in delicious Samos honey. I realized that I needed to get a jar of the stuff post haste.
“I saw some in the supermarket,” my wife said. “Just go get some.”
But I didn’t want supermarket honey, even if it was the same kind of locally produced stuff sold on the side of the road. I wanted the whole roadside honey experience. So we set off the next day back on the same carsickness-inducing route, which traverses a nice chunk of Samos’s pretty, mountainous green interior, and I stopped at every honey stand I could find.
At the first shop, we were given only a small taste on toothpicks, which was a bit of a tease, but it was enough to make us want more. It was lighter, sweeter and far tastier than any honey I’d ever had before.
At the second shop we visited, just west of the village of Pirgos, the honey tasted even better, and the owner let us take samples by the spoonful from a big jar of the stuff. While my wife distracted him with questions, I kept dipping into the stuff like an addict, as my children looked at a collection of trapped bees in the shop.
When I couldn’t reasonably sample any more without feeling like a thief, I grabbed a big jar of it and pulled out my wallet before my wife objected.
“We’re only here for a week,” she said. “How much honey can you eat?”
As it turns out, an awful lot. I loved the stuff so much, that I started planning all my meals and snacks around things that I could pour honey on. And I burned through the four honey-drenched sesame bars I bought in less than 48 hours. One afternoon, I asked my wife how some honey might taste on my ham and cheese sandwich, and she tried to set me straight once more.
“Dave,” she said. “You can’t put honey on everything.”
Maybe not, but when in Samos, you can certainly try.
(All photos and videos by Dave Seminara)