Food Memories: Fresh Dill and Summer Nostalgia

August 21, 2019 Updated: August 22, 2019

My strongest food memory comes from fresh dill. Every time I smell it, I’m instantly transported to my Granny’s huge, sprawling garden. As a kid, I used to spend hours there, nibbling on veggies, picking flowers, and looking at bugs.

Dill had self-seeded all over her garden, so I was constantly brushing against it and releasing the smell. I’d pick the dill flower heads and put them behind my ear. My brother and I would even pretend we were rabbits and nibble long stalks of dill.

The distinctiveness of dill combined with fond memories of summer days in the garden under the sun is seared in my memory. Even now, I’ll pick up fresh dill in the store to smell and bring back those memories. I cook with fresh dill often throughout the summer when it’s in season.

My favorite way to use it is in Granny’s borscht recipe. I make dilly buttermilk biscuits to go with it. It’s one of my favorite summer meals that reminds me of childhood.

Now that Granny has dementia, most of her memories have been lost. But put her in a garden and she goes right to work! I wonder if the smell of dill brings her back, too.

—Brianne Bell, Toronto, Canada