Mad Honey: the hallucinogenic honey that can sell for over $60 a pound on the black market

When bees feed on the pollen of rhododendron flowers, the resulting honey can become a hallucinogenic punch. It’s called “mad honey”, and it has a slightly bitter taste and a reddish color. More notably, a few types of rhododendrons, among them Rhododendron luteum and Rhododendron ponticum, contain grayanotoxin, which can cause serious physiological reactions in humans and animals. Depending on how much a person consumes, reactions can range from hallucinations and a slower heartbeat to temporary paralysis, but also unconsciousness, dizziness, hypotension and atrial-ventricular block. However, rhododendrons flourish at high…

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18# Melomakarona: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies with curious origins

Sweet orange-zest cookies soaked in honey and topped with walnut? Yes, please! This treat is a holiday treat that regularly appears on tables in Greece. Known as melomakarona, if you visit Greece in Christmas time, you’ll eat far too many of these delicious Christmas honey cookies. Imagine a cross between baklava and an gooey pecan pie and you’ve got these: typical Greek Christmas honey cookies, and probably you won’t be able to eat just one. Every self-respecting Greek household has a huge pile of these on their Christmas treat table.…

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10# Struffoli: Neapolitan Christmas Tradition

Of the many pastries and dishes that Italy has gifted to the world, the Neapolitan delicacy known as struffoli are the quintessential festive dessert on Neapolitan tables and for Italian-American families alike. They originated in Napoli, the capital of the region of Campania, and dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks who once ruled the port city. And then the Romans have adapted the recipe into their own version, stuffing the dough balls with candied fruits and chopped almonds. It seems the name struffoli comes from the Greek…

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