Armenian-American chef/partner Vartan Abgaryan of new restaurant Yours Truly in Venice Beach, California, has refined his za’atar spice
blend to his own palate over years, making it with sumac, thyme, oregano, and toasted coriander and sesame seeds, “married” in a mortar
and pestle and sprinkled with fresh lemon zest daily. Despite its trendiness around the world, “the history of za’atar can be traced back to
biblical times and beyond,” Abgaryan says. It’s referenced in the Bible as “ezov,” the Hebrew origin of the word hyssop, and so za’atar may
be found labeled “holy hyssop," according to the chef. This spice blend is said to aid memory and brain power because it increases the
circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain. Abgaryan uses it liberally as a topping for cooked meats and breads, in
salad dressing, and to cure lardo. For newbies, he suggests adding it to warm bread or olive oil and grilled foods.