Difference between ‘Djodjen’ and Mint in Bulgaria
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Lucy
Posted on: September 30, 2007

I grew several kinds of mint when living in the UK. When I moved to Bulgaria I thought I was lucky enough to have a huge patch of mint in the garden. But local ladies tell me this is not mint (’menta’) but ‘djodjen’. It is used here in soups, stews and bean dishes, modestly. I tried making iced tea and to me it tasted just like mint tea. I also use it in salads and in homemade yoghurt cheese.

I’m with you on fresh lovage being better than dried!

According to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages (http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/index.html), ‘djodjen’ is spearmint (Mentha spicata). In Cyrillic the Bulgarian word is Джоджен which is written in the Roman script as either ‘dzhodzhen’ or ‘djodjen’. Мента or ‘menta’ is listed by Katzer as the generic name for mint (Mentha spp.), implying that it is not used to denote any particular variety of mint. However, I suspect that your local ladies are using ‘menta’ to refer to peppermint (Mentha x piperita), which of course is very different from spearmint.

Please note that there are many forms of spearmint and peppermint around the world. Local forms of mint species often differ in morphology, scent and flavour; so it is entirely possible that ‘djodjen’ is different enough from what you grew in the UK to cause you to hesitate declaring it as spearmint.

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