Russia's love affair with dill more than a sprinkle

Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:02am EDT
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By Anna Andrianova and Amie Ferris-Rotman

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Sprinkled on almost every dish, grown by old ladies in their homes and boiled to combat sweating: the herb dill is a matter of Russian national pride.

Pungent and strong-tasting, the Russian love for the spindly herb appears to know no bounds, bewildering foreigners who are not used to such heavy use.

Russian cuisine is so tightly tied to dill that its Russian name 'ukrop' can be traced to the word 'kropit', meaning 'to sprinkle'.

Dill has also begun to appear on non-Russian dishes, often spotted coating the feta of a Greek salad in cafes and supermarkets, and giving a traditional flavor to omelets and even pizzas at eateries across the Russian capital.

Russians say its ubiquity has left them inured to the taste.

According to one of Russia's oldest and largest greenhouse providers, Agrotip, the average Russian consumes 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) of dill a year -- about enough to fill a large suitcase.

"I guess compared to other European countries, Russia eats the most dill. We have no export markets," said Agrotip operations manager Olga Antipova.

But Russians believe the real amount of dill an average Russian eats is much more as the figure does not include the copious amounts of it grown in their gardens and homes, used atop beetroot soup, Siberian pelmeni dumplings and salads.   Continued...