Travels in Blood and Honey
Becoming a Beekeeper in Kosovo
published 2011 • 5 ½” x 8 ½” • 256 pages
ISBN 9781904955900 • paperback • $16.00 •
“Enthralling... a hugely affectionate picture of the everyday lives of ordinary Kosovans and a wonderful evocation of a place that most of us know so little about. Food, above all honey, is the key that unlocks the doors between cultures. And I have every intention of trying some of the recipes.”
“A wonderful writer about Pristina… Interesting and different.”
“What a fantastic read! Elizabeth is full of wonderful stories and experiences, with delicious recipes inter-woven.”
A transplanted Englishwoman’s life in post-war Kosovo
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 Çeku. 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.
Elizabeth Gowing’s translation of the biography of Yugoslavia’s longest-held political prisoner, Adem Demaçi, was recently published by Rrokullia Press. She is a regular columnist for Prishtina Insight newspaper and is currently working on Edith and I, a biography of the Edwardian anthropologist and Balkan traveller, Edith Durham. Her website is www.elizabethgowing.com.
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