"There was a lot of giggling; then they produced an enormous jar of frothy semi-crystallised honey, poured me a pint and gave me a strict warning not to eat too much."
You look a bit spaced out. Are you OK?
I've just been trying a little Turkish honey and it has gone straight to my head.
I thought honey was supposed to be healthy?
It is, but this one has hallucinogenic properties that can send your brain whirling like a dervish.
Really, where do you get it?
The misty mountains of the Turkish Black Sea coast, close to the Georgian border, where it is known as deli bali - mad honey.
What a refreshing change from coarse-cut marmalade. How can I get a jar?
Take a trek to the south-east of Trabzon and ask in one of the hill town grocery stores. Along with the normal local honey they may have a little deli bali tucked away under the counter. The shopkeepers can be wary of selling it to strangers, as I found when I asked for it in the village of Camlihemsin. There was a lot of giggling; then they produced an enormous jar of frothy semi-crystallised honey, poured me a pint and gave me a strict warning not to eat too much.
That's what I said, and with a fixed grin the shopkeeper explained: "Because it will kill you."
Golly. But how?
The colour, taste and texture of a honey varies enormously according to which flowers the bees have visited. Deli bali is a mono-crop honey made from the spring flowers of the rhododendron (R. ponticum) that thrive on the humid Black Sea mountains. The nectar of the blooms contains andromedotoxin, a substance that can cause all sorts of weird effects in humans.
Depending on the amount of honey you try, they can range from pleasant tingling and mild numbness to dizziness, through to blurred vision and impaired speech.
Sounds like a normal Friday night out to me.
It gets worse. Too much of the stuff and your symptoms progress to psychedelic fireworks, nausea, respiratory difficulty and a very low pulse rate. Eventually your skin turns the colour of Stilton. Scoffing Pooh Bear quantities of mad honey can lead to muscle paralysis, unconsciousness and even death.
But it looks so natural and wholesome.
Don't be fooled. This honey has even been used as a chemical weapon.
You may recall the events, more than 2,000 years ago, of the Third Mithridatic War ...
I'm still getting to grips with the first two, but go on.
Trabzon locals placed tempting pots of deli bali along the route of the invading Roman army. Strabo, the Roman historian, described the result: "The men tasted the honey and lost their senses. They were attacked and easily dispatched." In all, three squadrons, or about 1,200 men, were killed by guerrillas.
The stuff should be banned; it's a weapon of mass destruction.
Calm down. The funny honey can be very good for you as long as you take it in moderation. In the 17th century, European landlords imported it and added small amounts to their ale to give it a little lift. Nowadays, apitherapy, or treatment by honey, is very popular in Turkey and deli bali is one of the star medicines. You just have to remember to keep to small sweet doses.
OK, how can I spot the real thing?
A lot of it is down to trust and listening to the advice of the local beekeepers and shop owners - though they will sometimes refer to the local chestnut blossom honey - kestane bali - as deli bali. A sure way of getting the right stuff is to visit the main honey shop in the old part of Trabzon (Fanus Gida, Niyazi Sahinbasoglu Carsili, Alt Geciti no 7). The owner, Avni Haliloglu, is an experienced beekeeper and stocks everything for the apiarist, from smoke blowers to artificial honeycombs. He also sells various types of clearly labelled Turkish honey by the gram. He describes his deli bali as orman komar bali - rose-of-the-forest honey - and sells it for 12 million Turkish lira (£5) a kilogram.
It may make your toes curl, but is it any good?
It's divine. His mad honey is a gorgeous glowing amber colour with an intense sweet flavour of steamed treacle pudding. The taste lingers as it slides down your throat and the whole experience is dangerously moreish. Knowing that you have to ration yourself to a few teaspoons seems to add to the pleasure. I would also recommend his dark chestnut honey, which is more of an acquired taste with a slightly bitter flavour of burnt toffee.
But how does he get the bees to take nectar from only one type of flower?
That is the magic of the Black Sea beekeepers. They follow the warmth of the spring as it moves up the mountains. Travelling with their hives, they release their swarms at different altitudes to harvest each new wave of spring blossom. The nectar for the deli bali is gathered at about 3,300ft in mid-May, when for two or three weeks the hills are ablaze with the rhododendron flowers. By mid-June the beekeepers reach the top and move on to the lush high plateau pastures where the bees can enjoy an orgy of summer flowers.
Sounds a lot safer than the narcotic rhododendrons.
Yes, the cicek, or mixed-flower, honey is pleasant, sweet and safe, but it doesn't have as much character or colour as the deli bali. Taste them yourself in Avni's shop. You'll be able to experience the spring migration, climbing up through the mountains to the plateau, just through the flavours of mono-crop honey.
• The best times to enjoy a selection of fresh honey are the summer months of June, July and August when many of the yalayas (high pastoral hamlets) have local festivals and competitions. One to look out for is the Anzer honey festival in the fourth week of August.
• If you are worried about the potential effects of mad honey, always eat it with fresh live yogurt and the hearty Trabzon bread. Not only is this a perfect combination of tastes and textures, but the yogurt will neutralise any toxins.
• Mad or completely sane honey is an excellent local buy wherever you are in Turkey. Some of the mono-crop honeys to look out for are cam (pine), portakal (orange blossom), akasya (acacia) and kestane (chestnut). Whole natural honeycombs and nuts suspended in honey are also worth tracking down. Generally, the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour.
• If you are keen to get a little buzz from your honey, it's much safer to try it fermented in the traditional form of mead. Georgia, just across the border, is said produce the great honey brews, but that's a whole other Grail Trail.
• Johnny Morris travelled as a guest of the Turkish Tourist Board (020 7355 4207)