Grasping for Words




How easy is to describe the various tastes and aromas of honey? Over the last few months I’ve handed out thousands of samples of honey to people who’ve attended trade fairs, or who’ve stopped by during a honey promotion day at a store. There’s tasting, maybe a facial reaction to the taste, hopefully a ”mmmm!”, more tasting, and then perhaps a little chat about the tasting experience. The talking bit is where words become important. How can we talk about it words that properly descibe the different tastes ? What if we want to say more than ”that tastes nice”, ” sweet” or ”interesting”? How can we talk about so it get’s a bit closer to the truth of how the honey really is? We need to find words that somehow capture the fleeting taste experience given to us by our senses. A description can’t come close to the experience of actually tasting something, but the right words can really help; they let us communicate our experiences with each other. That’s what makes them so important.
I always struggled for the right words. ”Try this, it’s really different than that one”, or ”this one’s really unusual”, or ”this one’s sooo nice!”. It’s all true on a basic level, but doesn’t do any more than scratch the surface. Thankfully someone came to my rescue. At the recent Copenhagen Food Fair I met Elizabeth Rasmussen, who knows all about this stuff. She stood at the Helt stand, tasted some honey, and began using wonderful words like ”malt” and ”oak” and ”molasses”. These are words that I’d never linked with honey, but when I heard them they immediately made sense to me. They made an instant connection with my memory of the honies; I could almost taste them.
It turned out Elizabeth had studied gastronomy and is an expert in describing taste and aroma. She kindly offered to make taste and aroma profiles for all the Helts. These are now to be found on this website.
So thank you, Elizabeth, for translating the myriad flavours of Helt into words. We’re well on our way to becoming honey-buffs.

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