First off, the lahmajoun:
I know you can get lahmajoun in Moscow, but I only eat it in L.A. It's a paper-thin Armenian pizza sold in pairs, the sides with the toppings facing each other and a square of paper in between. You roll each one up and eat it with hot tea. Lahmajoun is supposed to be mildly spicy, but this particular lahmajoun stopped at being just savory. Still satisfying.
And now for the mystery herb:
[01/15/10 NOTE: this is actually summer savory, NOT oregano, which is what the saleslady called it!!]
My mother-in-law always chops up a bunch of this very pungent herb and puts it in potato salad or potato piroshki. She calls it citron and I always assumed it was some exotic Armenian herb you could only find at an Armenian grocery in Los Angeles. I've never seen it anywhere else in the U.S. and never at markets in Russia.
I saw some on sale at the store today, and since the place was otherwise empty I asked the saleslady what it was called in English. After a moment she remembered the name - oregano!
I took it home and compared the aroma to a good bottle of dried oregano. The dried oregano smells slightly sweet, like it's already on its way into a bottle of Italian seasoning. Aside from being much stronger, the fresh oregano has a hint of the smell you get when you touch a tomato plant. And it has none of the sweetness of the dried oregano.
My father-in-law remembers picking wild oregano in the hills when he was a boy, and he says the smell was enough to knock you down.
If you can get fresh oregano, try this potato salad:
Start with cooked, chopped potato (starchy, not waxy)
Add chopped bell pepper, halved kalamata or other purple olives, a good handful of chopped fresh oregano, a little bit of finely diced onion
Dress it with olive oil and lemon juice