I first read about Zaat’ar in a Food Network magazine – how it was supposed to be the “new-everything-bagel seasoning.” I hadn’t heard of it before, so I looked it up and discovered that you can make your own out of spices such as thyme, sumac, sesame seeds. But other sites list other herbs and spices and say that there is actually a Zaat’ar plant.
(Another fact no one can agree on is where to put the apostrophe in the word Zaat’ar.)
The fact that intrigued me the most is that Zaat’ar is considered to be the biblical hyssop.
Remember when Christ was on the cross?
A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:29)
Other verses say: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)
Some commentators say that hyssop is an external cleansing agent. However, I discovered something fascinating in my personal research (and I truly don’t know much about this) – hyssop is medicinal for internal parasites. That seems to correlate with what the Psalmist is saying.
Anyhow back to the Zaat’ar. Rather than choosing one of the combination of spices and herbs to make my own, I ordered a bottle off Amazon. (Not sure the Israelites did that.) I ordered it from a company in Israel, so the jar took some time to get to my house. Total cost: $14.40 (that’s with shipping), which is high, but it has quite a bit in the jar.
You will notice on the label that the jar actually says “holy hyssop.” The jar’s list of ingredients includes: hyssop, sesame, elm-leaved sumac, lemon acid and salt.
So I mixed a little of the Zaat’ar with cream cheese and spread it on a toasted bagel. (One of the recipes also suggests tomato and onion in the mixture, which sounds good, but which I didn’t do.)
Could I just say – delicious?
What a fun way to teach kids about one of the herbs mentioned in the Bible.