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Travels in Blood and Honey: Becoming a Beekeeper in Kosovo

by Elizabeth Gowing
£12.99   paperback  Signal Books Ltd (2011)

Travels in Blood and Honey: Becoming a Beekeeper in Kosovo by Elizabeth Gowing Kosovo: the name conjures up blood: ethnic cleansing and war. This book reveals another side to the newest country in the world - a land of generous families, strong tastes and lush landscapes: a land of honey.
 
Elizabeth Gowing is rushed to Kosovo, on a 'blind date with the place', when her partner is suddenly offered the position of adviser to Prime Minister Agim Ceku. Knowing nothing of the language or politics, she is thrown into a world of unpronounceable nouns, unfamiliar foods and bewilderingly hospitable people.
 
On her first birthday in Kosovo she is given a beehive as a gift, and starts on a beekeeping apprenticeship with an unknown family; through their friendship and history she begins to understand her new home. Her apprenticeship leads her to other beekeepers too: retired guerrilla fighters, victims of human trafficking, political activists, a women's beekeeping group who teach her how to dance, and the Prime Minister himself.
 
She dons a beekeeper's veil, sees the bees safely through winter, manages to use a smoker, learns about wicker skeps, gets stung, harvests her honey and drizzles it over everything. In between, she starts working at Pristina's forgotten Ethnological Museum, runs a project in a restored stone house below the Accursed Mountains and falls in love with a country she had known only as a war.
 
Travels in Blood and Honey charts the author's journeys through Kosovo's countryside and its urban sprawl, its Serbs and Albanians, its history and heartache, its etymology and entomology, its sweet and its unsavoury. Describing new ways of living, and many new ways of cooking, the book contains traditional recipes, and the flavours of Turkish coffee, chestnut honey, and the iconic food called fli. It is a celebration of travel, adventure and the new tastes you can acquire far from home.

ISBN 13: 9781904955900 | ISBN 10: 1904955908