September 09, 2020

For the Love of Dill


For the Love of Dill
While not as well known in the West, dill is quite popular in the Slavic world. Image by aleruana via freepik

Anyone who has spent time in Russia has definitely tasted dill on at least one dish, if not several. In fact, dill can be found not only on more traditional items, such as pickles and potatoes, but also on things like pizza and sushi. A British journalist of Russian heritage recently wrote an article exploring Russians’ love of dill.

Lisa Haseldine has family ties to both Russia and Belarus. She wrote that, most people in the West are unfamiliar with dill, except perhaps in a dill pickle. In Russia and many parts of the Slavic world, however, dill is used far more frequently – Haseldine even describes it as “notoriously ubiquitous.” She wrote that dill can accompany almost any dish in the Slavic world, from borsht and pelmeni to pizza and sushi.

Haseldine suggested that adding dill gives Russian and Eastern European dishes their characteristic essence:

“And I would go as far as to say the relationship between dill and the food it flavours seems to have developed a symbiosis in the Russian palette: it gives these dishes their characteristic Eastern European flavour, and Russians have come to rely on the herb to elevate a dish.”

Haseldine added that Russian astronauts are rumored to have requested dill because of its anti-flatulent properties.

Haseldine said that dill has achieved a cult status on the Internet, including memes and articles trying to understand why Russians love this herb so much. There is even a Facebook group organized by a journalist for the Guardian that is dedicated to “inappropriate sightings of dill.” The herb even has a political context. Starting in 2014, the Russian word for dill (укроп, ukrop) was used to derogatorily refer to Ukrainians. In response, Ukrainians reclaimed the word, with some even sewing green patches on their uniforms to represent the herb.

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