If 2010 is the Year of Dill, Then I Miss the Aughts Already

Statue of Valery Chkalov, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

By Matthew Yglesias

I like to think we can keep things civil here on the IFA, but I have to object in the strongest possible terms to the claim that “fresh dill is awesome.” Fresh dill is not awesome. It’s not good. It’s not okay. It’s bad. Bad bad bad bad bad bad.

Let me tell you a story about dill. Once upon a time, when I was a foolish seventeen year-old, I spent the summer of 1998 in Nizhny Novgorod. The mayor proudly told me that “Nizhny Novgorod is the Detroit of Russia!” In the Soviet era, being made to live in Nizhny Novgorod was one way they could punish dissidents. The government defaulted on its debt that year and the value of the currency collapsed. I had to leave town early because striking miners who hadn’t been paid in months were preparing to rip up the railroad tracks.

But the worst of it by far was the dill.

Dill, dill, everywhere. In everything. All the time. I didn’t—and still don’t—speak Russian. But I tried mightily to learn to say “no dill.” “Nye ukropom,” I believe. That would get you not so much no dill in your soup or cabbage or potatoes or whatnot as less dill. And less dill was a mercy. A sweet, sweet mercy.

Here in America, fortunately, we don’t eat like that. In fact, I’m hardly ever offered any dill. And I like it that way. This is the greatest country on earth, and if Ezra wants to dillify maybe he should move to Russia instead with his commie pals.

16 responses to “If 2010 is the Year of Dill, Then I Miss the Aughts Already

  1. Sorry, man, I gotta go with Ezra on this one. Dill is great. It’s also basically a weed, so it’s really easy to grow.

    In Soviet Russia, dill chops you!

  2. “It’s basically a weed” is not what you’d call a ringing endorsement, but it has the value of being accurate, in ways that I don’t think you intended.

    When fissures appear in the love story that is Klein-Yglesias, I generally side with Ezra. But here, I am totally on Matt’s side. Dill sucks. I would say it has no use other than as a torture device, but a commenter in Ezra’s thread reminded me of aquavit. So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.

    But other than aquavit, there is no use of dill that would not be better served by the choice of another herb, or no herb at all. Or, indeed, just skipping the meal altogether.

  3. Dill was made for pickling and maybe in a cucumber-yogurt sauce. That’s it.

  4. Thanks to MillerBen for reminding me of dill pickling. I love pickles. And pickled beets.

    I submit there are

    I submit there are two reasons for dill to exist:

    1) Cocktails
    2) Pickling

    Are there cases in which another herb would not be a better substitute for dill? I think not.

  5. Pingback: Eat Fresh Dill? Bite Your Tongue. « The Internet Food Association

  6. Thank you Matt for voicing what I have known for years: dill is awful. AWFUL! The number of times I have had a salmon or roasted potato experience ruined by that devil plant…

  7. I have a really hard time believing that someone who hates so hard on dill likes eating any food at all. And you know who else didn’t like eating any food at all?

    HITLER.

  8. Don’t talk about Dill that way! Dill is the man!

  9. Dill is like ketchup- used by people who wouldn’t know salmon from tuna to cover up they’re already abused taste buds.
    Dill is overpowering and dominates over every other flavour, so that anything else you put into your sauce or salad is just a waste of ingridiants. Only bad cooks use it, hoping people won’t taste their food. Even fresh dill tastes and smells rotten, and the only proper use I can imagine for it is compost food.
    I know that is a really harsh assesment of dill, but I really really really hate dill.

  10. I’m not the world’s biggest dill fan but I don’t mind it. On the other hand, praps Yglesias and the rest of the Food Nazis should just not eat what they don’t like and quit queering it for everybody else.

    Otherwise we’ll end up in a world where every meal time we will all be forcefed boiled potatoes and schmalz while riding bicycles.

    And who wants that?

    Pass the dill, for god’s sake.

  11. Dill is great.
    Chopped dill and parsley go great with borscht.

  12. Paul Camp wins.

    To paraphrase Michael Douglas, America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want dill free food? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose use of dill makes your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs food preparations which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be an absence of dill. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to smother his dill infused, dill encrusted salmon in a creamy dill sauce with a dill garnish. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

  13. Dill’s fine for some things but every “pizza” i had in two years of living in Kyrgyzstan had plenty of it. And ketchup. And cut-up hot dogs as the “meat” topping.

    Ironically, the one thing Russians don’t use seem to use dill for? Pickles.

  14. I was 17 in Russia, too, but in 1995. I thought it was the dill that was good and everything else that wasn’t. Especially the pieces of lard my host mother gave me that I thought were cheese.

  15. . . . praps Yglesias and the rest of the Food Nazis should just not eat what they don’t like and quit queering it for everybody else.

    Lovely sentiment, but the trouble is that it is the dill lovers (well, not the dill lovers yet, but soon if Ezra has his way) and all those who promote crappy things because they think its cool to be on the cutting edge of a trend who queer it for the rest of us. Remember the 80s? Blackened redfish? You know how hard it was to find properly cooked red snapper anywhere along the Gulf coast around that time? Every time some crappy food trend comes along it has ramifications on the rest of us who just want to eat good food.

    Now, I don’t think that dill is going to be the hot trend of the teens, because I don’t think that there’s a critical mass of people who are that devoid of taste. But lets not pretend that bad choices only affect those making them.

    Friends don’t let friends eat dill.

  16. Maharashtrians consider dill to be a vegetable, and prepare it like they would spinach, fenugreek, or any other leafy green. That makes all the difference, as it means the dill can be properly seasoned.

    Shepuchi bhaji defeats conventional wisdom on another score, to which Ezra referred obliquely. Everybody knows dill is “supposed” to be added last to a dish, so that the flavor stays fresh. But that just ensures it’s still weedy and astringent when it’s served. If you sautée it along with other ingredients, it loses the bushy taste and texture and blends gently.

    I suspect Matt and Kristen’s gripe with Russian food isn’t so much the preponderance of dill as it is the absence of any other discernable flavors. That’s not the dill’s fault.

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