Ashes aren’t always the sign of a definitive end. When a wooded area has been rendered lifeless by flames, one of the first plants to signal the return of life is fireweed. The plant bears magenta-hued flowers and attracts bees with a delicate, jasmine-like scent. In Alaska, Canada and the Pacific Northwest, honeybees return to apiaries and create a delightful, fruity honey from the perennial herb.
Food lore contains many chapters that cover aphrodisiacs, but foods that are the by-product of transformation and change are truly magical. Fireweed is an ecumenical host, a tonic for times when living takes more than it gives back, when the myth of the phoenix rising from the flames feels like a cruel joke.
The next time you find yourself caught up in struggle, think of fireweed. Add it to your tea and turn destruction into favor. Fireweed honey is available at Zingerman’s.