One day I was visiting with the proprietor of my local Armenian market and discussing the various spices needed to cook the recipes in the Jerusalem: A Cookbook. He kept tucking into what he described as his “breakfast” which was a little saucer of olive oil laced with zata’ar, into which he’d scoop a morsel of pita.
He looked so satisfied that I had to try it for myself, which I now do regularly using zata’ar from his shop, my wonderful Frog Hollow olive oil, and ciabatta instead of pita because it soaks up the oil more easily. What a perfect mouthful, combining the fruity unctuous olive oil, the herbaceous country aroma of the spice mixture, and the cool wheaty texture of the bread. I realize it’s nutritionally the equivalent of bread and butter, but it sets me up for the day.
Zata’ar, as sold commercially, contains some sesame seed and salt, sumac for bitterness and the wild thyme also called zata’ar which grows primarily in the Middle East. Fortunately, it’s very cheap from Amazon and other sources. God made sure He or She had a reliable local supplier, but was kind enough to offer it to us with wholesale pricing.