Thyme, or Thimari in Greek, is one of those Greek herbs that you just have to have around, not because it has any distinctive flavor, but because it adds a necessary “touch” to other herbs and make them more distinctive than without thyme. In brief, thyme could be maybe described as a spice of herbs. By the way, this herb is a foundation of mixed herbs, like “bouquet garni” or “herbs de province”, widely used in many cuisines.
Greek connections to thyme go back to the ancient times when smell of thyme was highly appreciated: “you smell of thyme” was one of the biggest complement at the times. Greeks also used thyme to purify temples and homes, and to force bugs and insects away from their houses.
Thyme in Medicine
Thyme has also been used for medical purposes, as bath oil, for honey, and some say that is was also considered an aphrodisiac. Thyme has numerous and various therapeutic abilities, known since ancient Greece and Egyptians. It has intense anti-microbial and antiseptic abilities, due to high concentration of thymole – thymole is used to clean wounds. Thyme is also used against digestive problems and toothache. Its oil is used to alleviate muscular and rheumatic pains, and is recommended in cases of panic attacks and stress. All “ancient” benefits of thyme are still in use today although its usefulness spread considerably.
Thyme in Greek Cuisine
Greek name for the plant – thymari, that used to cover hills all over, means courage. Some people like to say today that cooking with thyme is cooking with courage. Well, it’s not that spooky!
Cooking with Thyme
The secret of cooking with thyme is a good timing. This herb should be added at the right time to the pot so it can release its oil and flavour. It is mostly used in sauces and meats, both grilled and cooked, and in salads, mostly dried. Some people tend to mix thyme and olive oil, leave it overnight and then use it in salads, because thyme releases all its flavours to the oil.
Thyme can be used in fillings, eggs and omelets, butter and of course in Greek olives, especially the vinegary ones. Greeks use thyme to make marinades for their meat and fish, and the braver ones use it in sweets and cakes as its distinctive taste and flavor adds a unique and unexpectedly mouth watering touch to tarts and cakes. Needless to say, thyme is used in Greek Salads both fresh and dry.