Za'atar (oregano) is a favourite of ours. Za'atar, literally, grows everywhere in the mountains of Lebanon. The plant sprouts through retaining walls in the orchids, springs through the concrete on the roadsides, fights its way through thorny bushes and, above all, casually sways with the wind underneath the majestic Cedar trees. I remember the old school days when my brother and I would come home from school for lunch during our break. We didn't want to waste a second of our precious playtime. We would quickly, grab a piece of bread, run outside, pick some green oregano, spread them out on the bread with a little salt and a dash of olive oil, roll the bread and.....voila! We would set off quickly, sandwich in hand, to meet up with the other children to play before the school bell chimed. In summer, when the za'atar is at its prime, the villagers would go out and gather sacks full of this delicious herb and lay them out on their rooftops to dry underneath the blazing sun. Once dried, the leaves are then grounded into a powder form and stored to be used to make za'atar pizzas on the "saj" straight after making a large batch of the saj bread. The smell of the freshly made pizzas was enough to wake up the old folks in the village and a memory of them and their walking sticks, scurrying towards the saj to make sure they didn't miss out, suddenly springs to my mind and I try to hold on to that memory for as long as I can.
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