Over the weekend, Oprah Winfrey took to Instagram to post a picture of her face obscured by tall, verdant fronds of fennel. “What to do with all this dill?” she asked in her caption, noting it was #harvestday. Yes, that’s right. She mislabeled the fennel as dill.
Jamie Oliver was quick to offer a correction to Oprah in the comments section ("That's fennel mate," he quipped, offering a suggestion to fry it slowly and delicately until it's sweet). He is, of course, correct to sing fennel's praises. It’s a dazzlingly versatile plant, endowed with a bewitching perfume that resembles the smell of anise; its bulbs, stalks, and fronds offer various possibilities for pleasure that remain unexplored.
Epicurious took this gaffe as an opportunity to correct Oprah, referring to her as "sweetie." Some found this a touch condescending. If anyone can defy our previously agreed-upon linguistic parameters and understanding of produce, after all, it’s Oprah. If fennel is dill now, so be it. Let Oprah call it whatever she wants.
Yet this semantic debate belies a more urgent question: What will she do with all that fennel? Oprah, we have some ideas. Here are some of our favorite fennel recipes.
What's your favorite way to cook fennel? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.
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