The garden’s tomatoes are slow to start this year, but the zuccini and lettuces are booming and so we’ve been trying to come up with interesting ways to stuff zuccini into everyone at least once a day, usually twice. Chinese veggie lettuce wraps with peanut sauce, stuffed zuccini with pesto potato and mushrooms, pasta with zuccini, couscous with zuccini…you get the idea.
On Monday Stephanie gave Brett and I some euros to go shopping at the market in the nearby town of Mirepoix. The fairly large market sits under the town’s stone cathedral, and we wound our way past tempting stalls of summer dresses and paperbacks, filling our baskets with organic peaches, tomatoes, carrots, hazelnuts, rounds of chevre, muesli, garlic, marinated olives, and lemon.
This week we harvested a batch of pollen from the hives that rest under the blooming chesnuts. The lady foragers could not be happier to zoom through the fireworks of blossoms that ring the grassy field. Thousands of bees dash around in the sunlight, collecting the heady saffron pollen in pouches on their hind legs.
photo by Brett
To collect the pollen, apiculturists place a special door on the underside of each hive. The bees must squeeze through the opening and in so doing the pollen is scraped off their back legs, falling into the metal collection trough a few inches below. After we returned home, I sat on the lawn all morning with Manon, their ten year old daughter, and we sifted through the whole bucket of pollen armed with tweezers, picking out impurities like dead ants or shafts of wheat that had fallen in. The pollen is beautiful, and each flower’s pollen has its own unique color and taste. The yellow is from the chesnut, theblack is from the red-orange poppies, the grey beige from the wild blackberry. Marvelous.
The pollen is sold frozen or dried, but when eaten fresh one can benefit the most from its healthfulness. From WebMD: “Bee pollen contains vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids, and protein. It comes from the pollen that collects on the bodies of bees. Bee pollen may also include bee saliva… You may find bee pollen in other natural dietary supplements as well as in skin softening products used for baby’s diaper rash or eczema. You may also hear recommendations for using bee pollen for alcoholism, asthma, allergies, health maintenance, or stomach problems…Bee pollen is also recommended by some herbalists to enhance athletic performance, reduce side effects of chemotherapy, and improve allergies and asthma.”
Emptying the pollen troughs
The nuggets of powdery pollen taste creamy and sweet. A piece of toast with peanut butter and a sprinkle of bee pollen makes for a delicious and healthful breakfast, just don’t forget the cup of mint tea with a sweet spoon of miel de la foret. Or try Brett’s fave rave, on coconut sorbet. La vie est courte mais certainement douce.
Photo by Brett