Though we think of the essence of honey as sweetness, the English word arises from its colour. Honey comes from an Indo-European root meaning yellow. —Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004)

The star ingredient of this dish is the Parisian honey Miel béton (Concrete Honey). To visualise the colourful neighbourhoods, flowers and cultures of Saint Denis, where the honey is harvested, we paired the honey with a lively selection from the salad bar: carrot salad with candied violets, banana and parsley with banana raita, a tangy fennel salad and a small side serve of hard cheese and chamomile powder. All ingredients can be served on one plate, visualising the (bio)diversity of urban environments.

  • 500 g carrots (suitable for eating raw)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (Miel béton)
  • Fleur de sel to taste
  • Pinch of coriander powder
  • 50 candied violets
  • 25 fresh violets

Shred the carrots using a mandoline (or a grater). Place in an airtight container and reserve in the fridge until needed. Combine fleur de sel with honey and coriander. Mix into the carrots. Leave to soak for about half an hour. Plate. Garnish with candied and fresh violets.

carot salad notes

  • 500 g Parmiggiano-Reggiano (or similar hard-cooked cheese)
  • 100 g dried chamomile flowers
  • Small jar of Miel béton (or any other urban honey)
  • Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper

Blend dried chamomile flowers in a blender and reserve until needed. Break the cheese in irregular chunks. Drizzle with Miel béton and pepper. Dust with chamomile powder.

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 1 cucumber
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of Miel béton
  • 1 teaspoon of mild olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Make a vinaigrette by juicing and zesting a lemon, adding the honey, oil, salt and pepper. Reserve in the fridge. Cut fennel and cucumber in small cubes. Cut grapefruit in half (star-shape) and “dig out” the triangle-slices. Separate pomegranate seeds, making sure that none of the bitter skin remains. Mix all ingredients.

For the bananas:

  • 4 bananas (not too ripe)
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 g margarine

Chop the parsley very fine. Mix with a bit of salt and flour. Slice bananas in thick rings. Cover the bananas in the parsley mixture and fry in margarine until soft.

For the raita:

  • 250 ml thick (Greek style) yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3 bananas, cut 1 cm thick
  • 1 small green chilli pepper cut in thin rings
  • ½ teaspoon Miel béton (or any other urban honey)
  • Water and salt to taste

Mix the yoghurt with a bit of water in the blender until it gets a smooth and semi-liquid consistency. Roast mustard seeds in a dry frying pan until they start bursting (cover the pan while roasting). Mix all ingredients with the yogurt. Salt as needed.

  • 2 bunches of flat leaf parsley
  • Microwave

Line the plate with cling film and place parsley in the microwave for 5 minutes (the length of time is approximate – it depends on the strength of the microwave, juiciness of the leaves, etc.). Making this requires quite a bit of experimentation! The result is a thin, dry, but still very green and tasty parsley crisp. We used it to garnish the plates.

Adapted from The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

We got most of our fruits, vegetables and spices from local North African, Pakistani and Turkish grocery stores in Brussels. We bought yogurt from our favourite Greek wholesalers Cannette (http://www.canette.be). We bought flowers in pots from several markets and garden shops and cultivated them in the kitchen. Candied violets were from AM Sweet (Kartuizersstraat 4, 1000 Brussels). We got cheese and olive oil from a local Italian deli (Vlaamse Steenweg, 1000 Brussels). Miel béton was provided by Allison Zinder, straight from the producer.

(an sidebar recipe)