Friday, July 13, 2007

Serpolet - Wild Thyme

A blue butterfly came and sat on my shoulder while I was hiking and I thought of the fleeting beautiful gift that life brings to this species. Imagine suddenly being able to see the world from a whole different perspective. Once a worm, dwelling in dark places and hibernating underground, and then suddenly a gorgeous fluttering burst of life occurs. What a contrast! The same creature is at once able to fly from flower to flower, sip precious nectar, feel the wind in its wings and bask in the sun. Did you know that the blue butterfly's sole sustenance is serpolet, or wild thyme?

Serpolet, or wild thyme, is an herb that is generally available from one vendor at the Saint Antoine market in the summer. I use it for many preparations. It pairs well with the chanterelle mushrooms that are coming out now, with lamb, in rabbit terrines, with quail brochettes, even with seafood like stuffed squid or mussels. It grows abundantly naturally, in dry rocky soil, so we see it a lot in the mountains and also along the coast. I had guests for lunch and put some of my leftover flowers on the table for everyone to enjoy at the table. They went straight back to the kitchen when I cleared the table, to live a second life in food.

I have ground the blossoms and leaves to a paste and massaged four souris d'agneau (lamb shanks) with it. They will marinate in the herb for a day before receiving a glazing of green chartreuse. After another two days being turned now and then in their herbal liquor marinade, I will pierce them with garlic cloves and season them with salt and pepper, the last step before I either braise or spit roast them for dinner with friends. But of course you will see the end result! Yes, I also have several recipes for vegetable dishes using Serpolet in my kitchen notebook. I promise to share them.

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Blogger Katie Zeller said...

The lamb shanks sound fantastic!
I have serpolet in my garden. I prefer to the woodier 'thym ordinaire'. I like the size and texture of the leaves better. I use it in vinaigrettes often in the summer

7:05 PM, July 16, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Katie, thank goodness for friends with serpolet in their gardens! I really love this herb and use it as much as possible when it comes in season.

9:54 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Scazza said...

Whatever happened to your lamb shanks? I've been looking for your follow-up post. I love lamb shanks and every preparation I've seen have been mostly alike (citrus, wine, braise).

6:34 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Hi sara, I'll be blogging about them in a week or two, after I have had a chance to do them again and be sure that I remember everything that happened and can give a dependable recipe. Stay tuned!

6:56 PM, July 23, 2007  

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