Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Mystery of Kekik

Winter savoryImage via Wikipedia
When you live abroad, you need to relearn some things. The names of the herbs and spices in your kitchen is one of those things. The names can vary from regions to region, which is what I found in Turkey.

Technically, kekik translates to thyme. Practically, it can mean: thyme, winter savory, and sometimes even rosemary. It's a little bit frustrating, but worth learning the latin names of plants for this very reason. Finding someone else who knows the latin names is an entirely different story. You just have to wing it.

When I lived in Mersin, we'd regularly picnic in the foothills. Searching for the wild herb was part of the excursion. We grilled our kebabs with it there and took plenty home to dry. That was lucky for me, because if it had been in a jar labelled Kekik, I would have never found out what it really was.

I searched for the "Mersin kekik" here in the states. To the untrained eye, it does look a lot like thyme, but it isn't. Kekik tastes like mint and thyme got together, so I tried that. Combining those two herbs doesn't do the same thing. When I finally found it at the nursery, the label said winter savory, satureja montana... I grow it in my yard now for a steady supply because you can't buy it at the supermarket.  It's an essential herb for grilling lamb (super yum!) and for my white bean stew.

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Old Kitty said...

Thyme and mint together?? Oh it must smell absolutely fantastic!! Wow!! And doesn't it have pretty flowers too?? Lovely! Is it easy to grow? I hope so as it must have such an aromatic potent taste and smell!!!

Take care

Jules said...

I had an herb garden this year but no kekik. It sounds divine maybe this spring I'll try some winter savory.

Happy New Year!
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

LTM said...

OK, now I'm drooling... lamb and white bean stew... mmmm... :d

This is super-interesting, and I giggled at you "trying to find someone else who knows the Latin." ;p

Happy New Year, my exotic friend!!! xoxo

Ayak said...

I'm glad of this explanation. I have always assumed kekik was thyme and often wondered why it didn't taste "quite right"...although I do like it.

Southpaw said...

I bet that is the perfect herb for lamb!

Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like an interesting herb!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh how cool! Interesting that it isn't in markets if it's so good with lamb (and is domesticatable)--I wish we lived in a better climate for herbs--most have to be planted every year and i just am not that ambitious.


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