Origin: The entire Middle East, including Egypt.
Profile: Tangy, Herbal, Nutty.
Uses: Often mixed with olive oil and spread on flatbread or as a dip for pita and Jerusalem Bagels. Also serves as a seasoning to sprinkle on dips like hummus and labneh, or vegetables, and salads, or in meatballs or kebabs.
Fun facts: Za’atar comes from the Arabic word for thyme. In Palestine, there is a belief that za'atar makes the mind alert, and children are sometimes encouraged to eat za'atar at breakfast before school.
Maimonides, a medieval rabbi and physician who lived in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt, prescribed za'atar for its health advancing properties in the 12th century. Since ancient times, people in the Mediterranean region of the Middle East have thought za'atar could be used to reduce and eliminate internal parasites.