Ebre Connect Summer 2016 - Page 7

A taste of honey LOCAL SPOTLIGHT El Perelló has a proud tradition of beekeeping and the town’s honey is sold all over the world – even in Harrods Honey is like wine,’ says Rafael Muria Martí, president of honey company Mel Muria. ‘You need to let it rest in your mouth for a while and savour the flavours on your tongue – the sweet, the sour, the bitter…’ On the table in front of Rafael sits a smart matt black box containing four small jars of softly glowing honey. This is his company’s luxury ‘artMuria’ collection of artisan honeys on sale in a select group of shops across Europe, including London’s famous Harrods. Rafael is the fifth generation of his family to work in the honey business. Other families in the area took up beekeeping too and now El Perelló, a town that sits between the sea and the mountains near the Ebro Delta, is known as ‘lo poble de la mel’ producing, it claims, 60 per cent of the honey in Catalunya. El Perelló’s bees are kept busy. Their year starts in early spring when the blue flowers of the rosemary are among the first blooms on the hills. Then the thyme and lavender need the bees’ attention. As the weather warms, El Perelló’s bigger producers put their hives on lorries and follow the flowers, driving south overnight to Castellón for the orange blossom, or, in the heat of mid-summer, north to the base of the Pyrenees to make the most of the mountain flowers. At the end of the year the bees come back home where the heathers on the hills surrounding the town flower longer into the winter than those in other areas. While El Perelló’s climate and situation are important contributors to its success, the support of the town hall and the large number of honey producers creating a shared The Muria family started making sense of tradition are equally honey in the 19th century significant. The role of the beekeeper is celebrated as an art. Simón Albiol Llaó, a Perellonenc who started his own independent beekeeping business six years ago, says it’s his passion. ‘Bees are magical,’ he says, ‘everything they do during their short life is marvellous. Beekeeping is addictive.’ TOURIST TIP: El Perelló has several honey shops, which also sell a wide range of luxury items, such as cheese and wine. To find out more about bees and honey, visit Mel Muria’s apiarian interpretation centre melmuria.com. Ebre Connect, Summer 2016 7