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| Bulgarian Mystery Herb is Lovage |
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Tom Roberts
Posted on: August 22, 2004
Thanks for responding, here’s a photo of the plant.
The plant is lovage (Levisticum officinale). In Bulgarian it is known as ‘devesil’. Typically this herb is not used in the dried form, so I am very interested to hear that your wife’s grandmother used it dried and not fresh. We have always subscribed to the dogma that lovage can only be used fresh; perhaps we need to revisit that!
For more information on ‘devesil’, see Gernot Kazter’s Spice Dictionary entry for lovage:
One other thing: we would not characterize the plant’s odour as dill-like. Although dill and lovage belong to the same botanical family (the Apiaceae), the aroma of lovage is much more like celery than dill. Sometimes, though, I notice that people who are not cooks or herbophiles have difficulty distinguishing between the different herb scents and flavours. Once you get a little familiar with some you will begin to see how herbs such as lovage and dill are so different and are therefore used in very different dishes.
My wife’s grandmother brought a herb to the US from Bulgaria over 80 years ago, she called it divisil, I am unsure of the spelling. She dried the leaves and used it as a spice in cooking. It has a very strong scent some people think it smells like dill. Have you ever heard of it? I can photograph the plant if it would help.
None of our name databases have the name ‘divisil’ in it so I have no idea what this plant might be. If you can send a photo perhaps I can provide some clues as to what it might be. When sending photos be sure to keep the total size of the photo and message under 2 megabytes in size otherwise your message will be rejected by our mail server.