Dill is native to southern Russia, western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. It was well known as a seasoning in ancient Rome, and it's a favorite all over the world, from Scandinavia to India.
The plant is strangely lovely: The slender stalk can grow to five feet tall, with a flower head like a lacy umbrella of tiny yellow flowers. Each little flower produces seed. The foliage of the dill plant consists of feathery fronds that sprout from the stalk. Stalk, fronds, seeds and flowers are all aromatic. I got the accompanying picture, by the way, from a beautiful site called Insightful Nana.
Some people say the flavor of dill resembles anise, but I love dill and I'm not so hot on anise, so I don't think so. Some say it tastes like caraway, but I agree with the authors who maintain that the flavor of dill is uniquely its own--a little tangy, a little sweet.
It's easy to grow, but hard to get rid of. I planted it once, and it's come back on its own ever since. One of the mysteries of spring is seeing in what part of the garden the dill comes up this year.
Dill isn't just good for pickles--it's great with fish and with potatoes, beets, carrots, eggs--just about anything. I love to put dill weed in my salmon croquettes (well, I live in the Midwest, so we call them "salmon patties", but they're the same thing). I also love to put it in bread--dill bread is fantastic with orange marmalade. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it.
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