“What are you doing?”
This is a text message my friend, Kim, sends me. It usually comes late in the afternoon and it is code for “Want to play World of Warcraft?”
I am sorry to say that I have gotten totally sucked into this game. I started playing it on the pretense that I could play long distance with Noah when he was away at college. But, as it turns out, he now has other things to do. What is the matter with that boy? Meanwhile, I am now addicted. One day, I showed Kim my characters in the game. I piqued her interest when I told her there was pretend fighting involved. “Can you have a sword or a gun?” she asked. By all means. I know that girl. I had her reeled in within 15 minutes.
So, now that it’s getting nice out we find ourselves on deck from time to time pillaging various villages and slaying a dragon or two. That’s a lot of work and we require sustenance and usually an adult beverage of some description.
Which is where za’atar comes in. If you have no idea what that is do not feel ashamed. I’d never heard of it until I wandered into my favorite Mediterranean restaurant, Kalamatas, and there were some pita chips covered in a dark, aromatic substance I could not identify. The owner, Maher Fawaz, gave me a nibble. Oh my. It was really good! So now I am addicted to both World of Warcraft and za’atar and one recent afternoon I combined the two when Kim came over.
Za’atar is a blend of herbs that includes oregano, basil, thyme, savory, dried sumac (not the poisonous kind, obviously) and sesame seeds. It is like the salt and pepper of the Middle East. Folks there sprinkle it on everything. Most international markets sell it.
To make the pita chips that are so addictive dipped into hummus, cut pita bread into wedges. Brush the wedges with olive oil and then sprinkle heavily with za’atar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the pita is beginning to get crisp. By the way, I should tell you that if you have cats you need to keep the bag of za’atar off the kitchen counter. It apparently has some of the same properties as catnip. Also, according to legend, it makes the mind alert, a side effect that is very beneficial to me.
So as Kim and I sat down to play, I brought out a pretty nifty trio of snacks to soak up the gin from the gin and tonics: the pita with za’atar, some store-bought hummus with chopped kalamata olives I added and Marcona almonds, which also have Middle Eastern origins although they are now generally thought of as a product from Spain. Not bad for a Southern girl, I say. And much healthier than the sausage balls and pigs in a blanket I usually trot out for such occasions.
“What are you doing?”
Uh, oh. Have to go now.