363: Za’atar

At the closing of 2008 I hit the end of the alphabet for my food offerings. This post and the next were things I saved as indicative of my personality and tastes. I want to place them within this 2008 record of my life even though my mood isn’t the same as when I culled these images, ingredients and copy from the toobz. (A portion of this one was copied just to pass to my son, from Blue House Diaries blog a couple of years ago - prior to my interest in my own blog.) Today I feel real personal happiness while being wrapped in the wet blanket of shame for my country. Oh and you may have noticed the seething rage I feel for the murderous thugs who control the power in this Gov-xtian-corp run country. Some introduction for a post on spices, right?
Just to clarify, for anyone who hasn't ever had za’atar. It is a spice blend, like baharat (see below), but it's a whole different idea.

Like baharat, there is no fixed recipe. Each household adapts it to suit their own tastes. And, of course, you can buy ready-made packets at the store.

Unlike baharat, za’atar is eaten without being part of the cooking process; i.e., you dip a piece of bread into olive oil before scooping up the za'atar onto it. Za'atar can also be used as a topping for savory pastries (Manakesh bil Za'atar), and in that case is baked (or, fast way, mixed with olive oil, spread on flat bread, and broiled).
  • 4 TB sesame seeds
  • 4 TB thyme
  • 1 TB sumac
  • 2 TB marjoram
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TB cinnamon
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 2 TB coriander
  • 1 TB ground pistachios
  • 1 TB ground almonds
Again, the recipe can be adapted to suit personal taste.

  • 4 parts black pepper
  • 4 parts paprika
  • 1 part nutmeg
  • 1 part ginger
  • 1 part cardamom
  • 1 part coriander
  • 1 part cassia (cinnamon)
  • 1 part cumin
  • 1 part cloves
So you could use 4tsp of black pepper, to 1tsp of cloves, or, 4 cups of black pepper to 1 cup of cloves.

I have not tried either. This is something I place on record so that I might try it some day. And, I feel a responsibility to share what I can about Lebanon with my son, since his father doesn't do too much of this (especially related to cooking). My mother-in-law made talamee (like this picture) every time she baked. To me, as an 18 year old Iowa girl with European ancestors and a white bread diet, it looked like she was throwing dirt on the bread. And, I remember my father-in-law, an old man when my husband was born, used to tease my ex about his beard. He told him his faced looked dirty and he nicknamed him za'atar talamee. My son likes these stories. He needs to hear the stories of family and the familiar especially because we live in a country that has painted the Arab, anyone from the Middle East as 'other' and 'them' of US v them.

Additional za'atar facts . . .

In Lebanon, there is a belief that this particular spice mixture makes the mind alert and the body strong. For this reason, children are encouraged to eat a za'atar sandwich for breakfast before an exam. The mixture is also popular in Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Israel and North Africa. It is also popular within the Armenian diaspora where Middle Eastern Armenians live. It is used to spice meats and vegetables, and it is also mixed with olive oil to make a spread (za'atar-ul-zayt or zayt-tu-zaa'tar) which is used as a dip for sesame rings (ka'k). Palestinians consider za'atar as one of their staple foods. In Israel, za'atar is frequently sprinkled on hummus or served with olive oil as a spread. Za'atar can also be spread on a dough base for the Middle-Eastern equivalent of a miniature pizza, also known as the manakish. It can be sprinkled on labneh (yogurt that has been drained until it becomes a tangy, creamy cheese). It can also be preserved in oil, by mixing with salt and rolling into balls, or by drying in the sun.

Please forgive me for simply posting a recipe while Gaza is being wiped out by Israel as the US and the world stands by watching. I just can’t formulate my words, my rage. The US has backed every right wing dictator in the world since World War II, while overthrowing countless democracies. The Myths America I have discovered this last year have broken my heart. I cling to visions of people in the Middle East, in Palestine, free to enjoy their foods, their families and friends without warfare and genocide using US manufactured bombs and weaponry and the Gov-Xtianist-Corp’s tacit blessing.

From Michael Moore’s website:

'Regime Change'
"The goal of the operation is to topple Hamas."
– Haim Ramon, Israeli Vice Prime Minister

Israel Rejects Calls for Truce
"... there is no room for a ceasefire ... The
Israeli army must not stop the operation before
breaking the will of the Palestinians ..."
– Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit

Update: The world is not standing by - it is US Gov-xtian-corp that is.

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