dill plants in my mother’s front yard
dill or fennel?
I have always liked dill very much, as a spice. I like to include it in the marinade of pickled cucumbers… and with rice, and other foods. But have not been a special fan of Fennel wheich is very popular here, and included in salads, and sometimes pickled itself. After posting these pictures, I got some mails as well as comments, which raised the possibility that maybe what I had photographed was fennel, and not dill. I wasn’t sure, and started searching for information on the two plants. My daughter, Rivka, who has been a chef in an earlier incarnation of her professional life, suggested that the plant was fennel, and I give a lot of credit to her opinion.
But reading botanical texts, I found it difficult to be sure which plant this was. I saw pictures of both, and they look very much the same, though they come from different families of plants. And strangely enough, they have very similar names in hebrew. The dill is ‘shamir’ and the fennel is ‘shumar’. The leaves of the dill are supposed to be a little more delicate than that of the fennel, and the seeds are a bit thinner. Eventually, I found a reference to the possibility of confusion between the two plants. The solution, I read, was to eat leaves from the two plants. The leaves of fennel have a liquorice taste. I went back to visit my mother again, and snipped two leaves from the plant… washed them and tasted them. They had a slightly spicy taste… but not that of liquorice. I believe that what I have photographed here is in fact, dill. But I’m still not 100% sure, if just because some people have questioned its identity.