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Thyme for Inspiring Courage and Saving Lives (Plus Recipe)

Seafarer Mama (Karen) loves to lose herself in the culinary arts by mixing her storytelling with sharing recipes.

Bed of thyme in front of a co-housing neighbor's home.

Bed of thyme in front of a co-housing neighbor's home.

Thyme as a Symbol of Courage

The earthy fragrance of thyme has inspired courage in the hearts of humans since ancient history. Roman soldiers often wore a sprig on their uniforms. Some soldiers exchanged sprigs among themselves and others received them as gifts from their beloved. Knights preparing for battle often bathed in thyme and marjoram because it was believed to inspire bravery.

Thyme was burned in temples to dispel negative energies, and it can be burned as smudge in the home for the same purpose. It is often burned in homes after a significant loss.

Sprigs of thyme harvested from my herb garden, ready to inspire courage or serve as garnish for an entree.

Sprigs of thyme harvested from my herb garden, ready to inspire courage or serve as garnish for an entree.

Where Did Thyme Originate?

Thyme is believed to originate in the woodlands of countries along the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and France. The herb was considered magical and protective because it was believed that bunches of thyme marked fairy rings, where the mysterious creatures danced at night. Women wore thyme because they believed that it increased their attractiveness. Thyme was often grown in herb gardens to attract good health and prosperity.

Thyme as a Garnish for Food

Thyme was a popular herb for garnishing food and drinks. It was often paired with meat and simmered in wine. It was used to boost the immune system and protect people from the effects of poison. If someone accidentally ate poisoned food, an herbal bath in thyme often mitigated the effects of the poison. Because of this, thyme was often grown on the grounds of palaces because monarchs and other prominent political figures were vulnerable to being poisoned.

When the Black Plague spread across Europe, poultices of thyme were placed on affected areas of the body. Some people who knew of the plague's spread ate food and drank wine seasoned with thyme to avoid contracting it. Now we know that the active sanitizing ingredient in thyme is thymol. Thyme was an herb was used for embalming in addition to preventing or treating serious illness. It was a spice that preserved the body and helped the soul pass on to the next world after death.

Recipe: Mushrooms Sauteed with Butter, Thyme, and Lemon

Mushrooms sauteed in pan with butter, thyme, and lemon juice

Mushrooms sauteed in pan with butter, thyme, and lemon juice

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

5 min

10 min

2-3 small bowls


  • 8-10 ounces portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, separated from the stem
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Slide mushrooms on a cutting board and set aside.
  2. Warm olive oil and/or butter in a skillet.
  3. Add mushrooms, lemon zest, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir ingredients for 2 or 3 minutes and lower the heat.
  4. Remove pan from heat and let cool for a minute, then divide into 2 or 3 bowls and serve.

Nutritional Information

Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil or butter, fresh thyme leaves, lemon zest, and lemon juice hold a rich supply of vitamins C and A, calcium, and iron. Though the carbohydrate count seems high, most of them are the beneficial type and are contained in the mushrooms.

Did you make and enjoy this side dish?

© 2018 Karen A Szklany


Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on May 13, 2020:

Thanks, Peggy! Glad you enjoyed the history around thyme and my recipe. ✨ I hope you do have a chance to cultivate some in your garden again.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 13, 2020:

We had a thick bunch of thyme that lasted for years. It finally started dying out, and now I have sage growing in its place. I will have to get another start of thyme and add it to my herbs grown outside. I love adding it to many dishes, including soups. Thanks for this interesting account of how it was used through the years, and your good-sounding recipe with the mushrooms.

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on February 01, 2019:

Hi Bill ~ yes, lots of herbs are very forgiving and provide the ultimate flavorful finishing touch on a favorite meal.

Thyme is so versatile, too. Hope you have a chance to grow, cook and garnish with it again.

Thank you for stopping by ~ great to see you here!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 01, 2019:

You know what I like most about herbs like Thyme? They are so easy to grow. Back in the day, when I knew very little about gardening, one thing I could always count on were the herbs. They adjust to climates, to soils, and to a gardener's abilities. I really should grow more this year.

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on November 16, 2018:

Thank you for reading and trying my recipe, Dianna! Blessings!

Dianna Mendez on November 16, 2018:

I look for recipe ideas using herbs like thyme. They add so much to the flavor of a dish. My family loves mushrooms and this will certainly be a recipe we will enjoy.

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