In the arnia (beehive), api (bees) produce miele for the apicoltore (beekeeper).
We always had miele in the house, and we used it for two reasons:
- to treat sore throat (one teaspoonful eaten as is or added to a hot beverages)
- to drip over the version of strufoli (fried Carnival pastries) that is typical of Perugia.
My mother makes very good strufoli and I am planning to get her recipe soon and try to follow it next Carnival (Carnevale). Strufoli are made in other parts of Italy as well, but they are different. Fried pastries of various kinds are a Carnival tradition throughout Italy. In my opinion this is a result of a desire to eat rich dishes before Lent put severe restrictions on the diet. On this page there are some photos.
In Italian we don't use miele as a term of endearment. Honey used in reference to a person would be dolcezza (which literally means sweetness). We also say dolce come il miele (as sweet as honey). If a food is mieloso it means it is sweet-tasting, but the adjective can also be applied metaphorically to mean sugary.
As a little kid, one day I was walking on the beach and stepped onto a dead bee, whose pungiglione (sting) got into my heel. My parents brought me to the emergency room (pronto soccorso). But maybe it was not a bee, maybe it was a vespa (wasp). This word may very well evoke the famous Italian moped. I never had one, but certainly would have liked it. Thanks to advertisements, movies (a relatively recent one that comes to mind is Respiro, starring Valeria Golino) and also reports of visitors, Vespa is a sort of quintessential Italian transportation means. According to the company web site, Vespa is 60 years old.
If you have visited Italy you may have also seen Ape (bee), the 3-wheel vehicle also made by Piaggio (like Vespa), which is widely used for delivery, because, given its small size, can easily maneuver Italian narrow streets.
[This post was inspired by Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita, who would like to get a Vespa.]
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the miele audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]