News/Culture >> Browse Articles >> Food Writing


The Spice Channel: Marjoram

The Spice Channel: Marjoram

Ryan |

I just recently found out that cumin, my go-to spice for Mexican food is key in making curry.

Then yesterday I found out I’ve been pronouncing marjoram wrong my whole life and I realized that I don’t even know where it comes from or if its a bush or a tree or what.

My world was shaken. Well, my education is your education.

Once a week I’ll post a brief history of whatever spice perplexes or interests me in no particular order. We’ll start here:


Originally from North Africa, Marjoram is in the mint family and a sweeter cousin of Oregano. Marjoram has a bushy and sprawling nature with purple stems that can grow to be between one and two feet tall.

In Arabic regions Marjoram can be called Za’atar. Za’atar is also the name of a condiment made up of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds and salt. There are regional varieties that use cumin, fennel or coriander as well.

Popular in Southern Europe, it was once thought that marjoram growing on a grave was a sign that the deceased was happy. in England It has been used as an ingredient in both snuff and beer.

Marjoram’s leaves, flowers and tender stems are all edible. It is recommended that you add it to a dish in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Many chefs consider marjoram the herb to use when you don’t know what herb to use.