I made this recipe more than a year ago.
I haven’t shared recipes on the blog all the way from July 2019 to May 1st 2020. Things that kept me away ranged from getting sick to full on clown rehearsals followed by the trip and performances in Barcelona as part of a HUGE festival, then getting back home to the major instability starting from October till now.
I made and shot many recipes, prepared them and stored them away on a piece of paper or in my brain or on my hard drive. I know that at some point, I’ll share them, and here is one from the archives that deserves to see the light.
This post might sound melancholic.
I want us, through this post, to go back in time when things seemed more “normal” on the surface.
During one of the food tours I used to give when the world still moved, I bought wild thyme from the market of Tripoli, North Lebanon. The market there is one of my favorite places in Lebanon; lively bustling streets filled with vendors displaying their goods on the sidewalks, fresh fish brought in from the port after the morning auction to buy fish from the hardworking fishermen, red meats hanging inside butcher shops, chicken thighs and pieces on display on cold metal slabs showered with water every now and then, vibrant produce brought from nearby farms sprinkled with water to keep them from wilting, foraged greens piled up in bags –cleaned– in the process of being chopped by the strong women who foraged and sold them for extra income, young men at bakeries rushing to rest the dough and bake it and deliver other baked good to nearby restaurants, and so many more little beautiful things that I find uplifting and inspiring there.
This year, I haven’t had the chance to go to any market. I visited the mountains, away from crowds and surrounded by trees for a chance to get some fresh air. If you know anything about me, you know I’ll be looking to the ground whenever we’re walking in nature to see what edible plants and herbs I can lay my eyes AND hands on. During one of the walking trips by the source of Beirut River in Mount Lebanon area(that’s all dry now), I found myself locating a big bunch of Zaatar (our native Oregano) and a wide field of wild Zaatar/Thyme. I did the most sensible thing: I knelt down and started picking all those beautiful greens and put them in the hood of my hoodie. I got back home with a big bunch of aromatic greens and I couldn’t be happier. I picked them off the stems and washed and left them to air-dry to be used.
EDIT: I actually visited Tripoli last week. Although I know the streets, but it was different. There was a sense of exhaustion seen in the faces of people there. Shops no longer display spices and nuts outside as they can’t afford to buy the same quantities when no one affords to buy from them. The market closes in the first couple of hours of the afternoons. Life did change there after all this. But as all of the country, not in a good way.
For this recipe, I decided to turn the Tripoli market wild thyme into pickles. It is a type of pickle I have tried somewhere and fell in love with and wanted to replicate. It is very simple. Salt, water, and the produce. Then I allowed myself the liberty of adding some aromatics and spices to… spice things up 😂 and now it’s your turn to spice it up!
Basically this recipe quantities rely on the produce you find. The more produce you find, the more brine (salt and water) you’d need. So use my recipe here as a guideline.
You’d need to make the brine by mixing salt and water. Strictly use rock sea salt and avoid table or fine salt. It usually has additives to avoid clumping and those can mess up the pickling. Also, sterilize the jars by either putting them in a hot oven and leaving them to cool, steaming them, or boiling them and letting them dry.