Sunday, 4 November 2012

what to do with your free thyme...

In the world of quasi-employment (a nice way of saying "working for oneself without much work," or perhaps "living the retired life in your mid-30s"), there tends to be a lot of free time to pursue interests; in my case, mostly gardening and cooking. Musing on this thought as I tended to my still productive garden, I realised that in more ways than one I really do have alot more "thyme" on my hands. By thyme, of course, I mean both the non-spatial continuum period available at one's disposal and the white- or lilac-flowered aromatic Eurasian shrub Thymus vulgaris (here insert my oft-quoted Dr. Evil-ism "two words, different's a homonym...).  Both are gifts that keep on giving, but it is of the T. vulgaris homonym that is proving more difficult to deal with than the continuum.

Of the many herbs I have planted over the years, the one that has survived the most winters and continues to thrive is thyme. In other words, it looks as though thyme withstands the test of time. With so much thyme around, this herb tends to make its way into a lot of my cooking.  It is great friend to scrambled eggs and omelettes, bushels are placed in any slow-cooked stew, and a few leaves are always chopped and mixed with its garden neighbours rosemary, sage, and lavender as seasoning for marinated meats, especially lamb. As I type this blog, a rack of lamb sits in a rub of these herbs in an olive oil and lemon dressing to be paired later with roast veggies tossed in the marinade and a glass or two of  the Moon Cursor Syrah (my absolute favourite BC Syrah - it actually has a thyme-y flavour).  

Cerro Calvario, Bolivia
Granted, thyme is very good in its ability to ease digestion of rich foods, but there comes a time when I have too much thyme is on my hands. One thing I've always wanted to try with my surplus thyme is inspired by my time in Copacabana. No, not the scantily clad Brazilian beach nor the supposed hottest spot north of Havana, but rather the remote Bolivian town on Lake Titicaca. Rather resembling the Pao de Azucar ("Sugarloaf") mountain next to Rio's Copacabana, the Cerro Calvario ("Calvary Hill") is a rocky promontory where atop sits a monument dedicated to the Stations of the Cross. Along with Copacabana's main cathedral devoted to the patron saint of Bolivia, la Virgen de Copacabana, the Cerro Calvario is a destination for devout Bolivian Catholics.

Stations of the Cross at Sunset, Cerro Calvario, Bolivia
Visiting the stations, one cannot help but notice the overwhelmingly herbaceous aromas wafting in the holy high-altitude air. As I admired the sweeping views of Lake Titicaca, I noticed around me elderly Bolivian women sweeping the grounds of the Stations with brooms bristles made of thyme. I suppose that lacking in frankincense and myrrh, thyme is the best substitute to treat the holy site with the respect it deserves.

Although I've never acted upon making my own brooms, the visual and olfactory image of the thyme-scented shrine still remains with me eight years later.  If there is enough to go around, maybe now is the time to make the most of my thyme.

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