Dispatches

Operation: Vita Dulcis Est

VITA DULCIS EST

Translates as “The Sweet Life“ in Latin, and has been made possible for humans for millennia by the little yet mighty honey bee (Apis mellifera). Our story begins with the bee and the honey this small creature makes.

Many scientists believe that honey bees have their center of origin in South and Southeast Asia. The first fossil record of Apis bees actually appears 34 mya at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary in European deposits. The ancient Egyptians are usually considered the first beekeepers in history and later the Minoans, Greeks, and Romans held the honey bee as a sacred part of their culture and mythology. Honey was considered “food of the gods“ by many cultures in the ancient world.

The peoples of that time were well aware of the benefits of the honey bee, its products, and the important roles they played not only in agriculture, but also nutritionally and medicinally. Honey was used in food and cooking as a healthy sweetener and as salves for healing cuts and scrapes by virtue of its antiseptic healing properties. Beeswax was used in the process of creating bronze statues, in making candles, storing food, balms, tablets, and more. Legend has it, that the first concoction of “ice cream“ was snow, cream, and honey.

Today there are 7 recognized honey bee species and 44 subspecies. The honey bee we know and love are often of the Italian variety and were actually not introduced to the “New World“ until 1622. The honey bee finally reached California in 1853.

As the author of this story, my personal interest and familiarity with honey is a long running one. Growing up in rural areas of the Eastern US, many friends‘ families were beekeepers and “home grown“ honey in glass jars were pretty much on everyone‘s kitchen tables. Home remedies for cuts and scrapes were often simply someone‘s parent getting a small spoonful of honey and dabbing it on. Summertime meant sun brewed iced tea sweetened with honey, and my first camping trips introduced me to hot tea with honey around the evening camping fires.

As an adult, the many backpacking and camping trips over the years carried on the tradition of bringing honey along for sweetening drinks and oatmeal. I often thought of better and more efficient methods of packing along honey on outdoor trips, and it was finally in 2015 when the inspiration to design and produce an “ideal“ reusable and compact honey container became a reality.

Under our brand Prometheus Design Werx, the modern “honey bear bottle“ was born. Sized to be just about perfect for 3 day -2 night weekends away in the wilderness or an adventure out of town, the Versa Bear is a reusable, BPA-free, non-toxic, food grade silicone squeeze bottle in the shape of (what else of course) a bear. This handy travel sized container is not only great for honey but many other condiments for your camp kitchen, and even for body care products like liquid soap and lotions.

We believe in reducing waste and not carrying excess when adventuring outdoors. Not only does it reduce your packed weight but encourages thoughtful, smart planning and DIY.

One of the founding principles of PDW is the act of giving back and supporting causes we believe in. In the instance of the Versa Bear, a portion of the sales proceeds goes towards supporting various honey bee conservancies.

Awhile back, our friend Russell Jackson, an award winning Chef, picked up a few of the Versa Bears to use in his kitchen and found them quite useful in his style of pop-up dining events. One day during brunch in Brooklyn we discussed honey bee conservation, and the motivations behind the bear-shaped squeeze bottle. We thought that more people should know about the alarming decline in the honey bee population across the globe. Awareness is critical for any cause and what better way than to pool our collective resources and skills than to put on a dining event to get folks to support the efforts in saving our honey bees.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a phenomenon, which has caused mass die offs of honey bees in recent years. Any well informed and responsible human being shouldn‘t take anything in our food chain for granted. Simply put a small and unassuming creature such as the honey bee pollinates 1/3rd of what we eat, 80% of the world‘s crops depends on them to survive, and this is a topic all people should be concerned about.

Part of the preparation for this unique dining event held on Sunday September 27, 2015, included Chef Jackson‘s chili infused, spicy honey. Everyone who attended was treated to their own Versa Bear pre-filled with this spicy honey.

The menu included custom crafted dishes, each featuring locally sourced honey (from Rodriguez Family Farm and Marshall Honey) as an ingredient. This also extended to the cocktails that greeted each diner as they were seated. A uniquely crafted white wine provided by Pearson Brothers Winery was present to connect the dishes between each serving, and those who partook also received a commemorative embroidered badge to mark this evening.

As “Underground“ dining events go, venues are usually pop-up and this time was no different. A special thanks goes to Merigan Sub Shop on 636 Second St. San Francisco, CA 94107 for use of their kitchen and seating.

Chef Russell Jackson‘s charm, creativity, personality, experience and skill were present in every dish he prepared and were flawlessly presented by his well trained crew. His David Bowie playlist added to the overall casual, lively atmosphere, and the mix of attendees all paired well with this evening.

It is the people at a gathering, get together, event or meal that makes it what it is. The human element is what breathes the life and soul into these moments and makes them truly memorable. As the evening wrapped up, Chef Jackson personally chatted to all of the diners, thanked them for attending and taking the time to learn about the honey bee.

Proceeds from this special dining event went to support the efforts of the nonprofit organization, TheHoneybeeConservancy.org We encourage you to learn more about the honey bee and what you can do to help in the fight for their survival and well being. In doing our part to help the honey bee, we are certainly fighting for our own health, well being and survival at the same time.

Life is sweet. Let us do what we can to keep it that way. I raise a glass and propose a toast to our mighty little friend, the honey bee.

Organizers: • Russell Jackson of SubCultureDining.com • PrometheusDesignWerx.com

Sponsors: • MeriganSubShop.com • PearsonBrothersWinery.wordpress.com • Facebook.com/RodriguezFamilyFarmHoneyBeeCo • MarshallsHoney.com • Facebook.com/GulicktheEmu • Nomiku.com • GipsonsGolden.com • Splashthat.com

Photos by: Marc Fiorito (Gammanine.com) George Chen (DangerRangerBear.com) Patrick Ma (PrometheusDesignWerx.com)

Story by: Patrick Ma (PrometheusDesignWerx.com)

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