Monday, 27 June 2011
We left Borovoe on Monday because my friend had to work. The guest house had promised Internet, which they had, wi-fi via a mobile phone, but the connection was incredibly slow and rather spotty. Her work is through the Internet, and so we returned Monday morning so she could get back to work.
On the sides of the freeway on the way to Astana from Borovoe are small stands where people sell homemade jams, honey, canned mushrooms, etc. I had heard that the jam and honey are good, so we stopped at one place in order to buy.
My friend helped translate the different kinds of honey—honey from acacia, different herbs, sunflowers. Honey comes in many different textures and colors, but this is not due to the plant it comes from, but rather it's due to the process it's been through. More natural honey is thicker; more processed honey is clearer and thinner, much like the honey we see on shelves in America. I quite like the thick, creamy honey sold here. Although the thickest honey is too much for me--it can not be spread on bread, but instead is simply eaten with a spoon, straight out of the jar.
A liter of honey was 1500 Tenge, about $10; I bought some sunflower honey for myself and a half-liter of sea buckthorn honey for my dad.
Yes, sea buckthorn honey! I'd never heard of sea buckthorn until this trip; at the bazaar they were selling oil and juice concentrate from this berry, and I had to use google translate to figure it out in English. It's a small orange berry that is very common around here; according to wikipedia, it's also common in Europe. It's supposedly very healthy, and the oil and juice were tooted as being able to cure a multitude of woes, including sinus problems by snorting the oil! The little berries grow near water sources, and are surrounded by thorns much bigger than the berries. I can imagine it's a pain to pick these berries and to gather enough to turn them into a juice or oil. The juice concentrate was over $10 for a liter. And sold in re-used plastic bottles, very non-commercial.
I'm not sure if the sea buckthorn honey came from the plant, or if it was just some other kind of honey mixed with the berries. There were berries in the honey jar. It looked interesting and unique, a perfect present from Kazakhstan! (And I'm so curious to try some, I hope my dad shares!)
And when I return to Astana in Kazakhstan I'll have a full liter of sunflower honey to enjoy. On bread with my expensive American peanut butter.
(Side note: On my trip home from Kazakhstan via a stopover in Germany, I noticed that sea buckthorn is common here. Sea buckthorn tea was offered at a restaurant; at my hotel, I used sea buckthorn jelly every morning on my bread.)