A Cilantro Girl Living in a Dill Nation

English: Fresh Cilantro (Coriander) Deutsch: V...

English: Fresh Cilantro (Coriander) Deutsch: Verkaufsübliches Bund frischer Koriander (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided to check out a place I thought would be cool for my birthday called Grill and went to try it for dagens lunch. For 110 SEK (around C$17) you can get a lunch buffet. This is more expensive than most dagens lunch, which usually costs between 75 to 95 SEK for something similar. I decided to splurge as I wanted to see if it was any good.

The day that I decided to try it was a dill day. Of course, most days are dill days in Sweden. If there is a fish or potato dish, it probably has dill in it. And not just a little bit, a lot. And those little things are hard to pick out of the sauce. When it is a sprig of dill, that is okay, but all those little dill bits combine into one big, yucky flavour in my mouth.  I have tried to like it and can take it in very, very small quantities, but unfortunately it is inescapable in most buffets and restaurants, and also for the Christmas tables or anything that is a traditional Swedish celebration (pretty much all the parties I have been to have dill somewhere on or in something).

The frustrating thing is that when I say I don’t like dill, I am immediately inundated with surprised looks, or scowls, or someone asking “Why not?”. As with all my personal preferences, I seem to dislike things that the majority of people do like, particularly those things that are put on a hamburger or hotdog  (mustard, ketchup, relish, pickles, raw tomatoes, for example). I have spent years being patient when ordering hamburgers or hotdogs at fast food kiosks and restaurants, because I like my burger in a specific way (cheese, mushrooms, onions, BBQ sauce, and some lettuce is perfect!). All my life I have suffered the glares of McDonald’s or Burger King employees who hate the special orders, and I cannot even guess how many times I have had to explain my order more than twice, or how often I have received the wrong order (the most annoying is when you buy it through the drivethru and stupidly trust they got it right…) How hard is it to put less on a burger? I know, I know, they have a system, and I interfere with it.

Back to discussing dill versus cilantro. A friend who writes for Scientific American recently posted something about preferences for cilantro (or coriander) possibly being genetically linked (see example).  I did a quick search to see if this could be my explanation for my intense dislike of dill as well, but nothing popped up definitively. (Funnily enough, the first thing to come up on the Google search results was information about my biology professor from University, whose last name is Dill!)

Of course, if one asks around, I know I am not the only one with specific likes and dislikes about food and herbs. One friend hates rosemary (not the person…the herb of course), and another friend admits to hating onions (how do you survive not liking onions!). So I completely understand how incredulous one feels when someone does not like something you love.

And I love cilantro/coriander. Generally, if you live in North America it is called cilantro and is used in Mexican dishes and if you are from Europe, it is called coriander and generally found in Indian dishes.  The herb is used in many other cultures as well, but I think this distinction is where my original confusion started (it took me years to realize that it is the same thing!…just like courgette and zucchini and eggplant and aubergine…).

Oh well. There is not much I can do about living in a Dill Nation. But this weekend I am going to a Canadian thanksgiving celebration, and if we are really traditional, I don’t expect to see any dill in my sweet potatoes and my stuffing will have sage, and the potatoes will just be potatoes…bring it on Canadian Club of Sweden!


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