|Supporting the Fight Against Cilantro!|
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Visitors contribute their cilantro stories...
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"My first, and only, cilantro disaster occurred when I was 28 years old in 1986. There was an upscale Mexican restaurant near my home that my cousin wanted to check out. He was a manager over 5 restaurants here in Dallas so he dined out two or three times a week to check out the competition. He and his wife often invited me to tag along on these "recon" missions. The meal began with the tradtional chips and salsa. With the first bite of salsa I nearly gagged. A flavor I had never experienced before overwhelmed all others. The salsa looked more than OK with big chunks of tomato, and fine slices of onion. Everyone else at the table was gobbling up the chips and salsa like it was going out of style, yet I had to struggle not to gag. Even the slightest dip of the chip into the salsa was enough to infuse the chip with this nauseating flavor. Then my cousin said the magic words, "Finally!! A restaurant that uses enough Cilantro!!". I asked him what Cilantro was and he explained it was a flavorful herb that looked like parsly. I put a spoonful of salsa on my appetizer plate and looked closely. There were flecks of green throughout. I then seperated the largest piece I could find and tasted it. Bingo! It was obvious that this was the source of the vile flavor and that source was called Cilantro. It was impossible to truly enjoy the rest of the meal. I could not get the aftertaste of Cilantro out of my mouth. You know Mexican food is the gift that keeps on giving. I spent the rest of the evening suffering little Cilantro infused burps. I have been able to avoid Cilantro since that time as most restaurants mention Cilantro in the menu if it's in a dish. The few times it's slipped passed my radar have been no problem since I stop eating the food at the slightest whisper of Cilantro. Having said that I have to acknowledge that some people love the stuff. There were five of us at the table that horrible night in '86. Four thought Cilantro was ambrosia."
- John Plano, TX
"I, like many of you first experience cilantro in Mexican.
I could never figure out why I so detested salsa at "authentic" Mexican restaurants. As a child, I loved new and different foods. For what ever reason I couldn't eat the salsa.
Then around age 20 I went to this little cafe on Lark St. in Albany. It was a beautiful summer day. The soup of the day was gazpacho. I'd had gazpacho once before and loved it, so I ordered it. I noticed the green garnish, and like many of the uninitiated, thought it was parsley atop of the lovely multihued cup of cool soup.
One bite and I nearly spit it across the table. I had the immediate sensation of licking a 9 volt battery. Not an old 9 volt mind you, we're talking straight out of the package 9 volt. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, perhaps you've chewed a piece of foil, the reaction is similar.
"What is that!" I shrieked, pointing at the foul tasting herb.
My friend across the table, shocked, given my propensity for eating odd and strange tasting foods replied, "It's just cilantro".
I've not had gazpacho at a restaurant since.
Thank you for giving us a voice ihatecilantro.com, thank you!"
- Rob Buffalo, NY
"I was traveling with family in Hawaii about four years ago. One day we went to a Luau - you know, where they serve you all sorts of traditional Hawaiian food. I was quite dismayed to find out that a large fraction of the dishes were prepared with cilantro. I haven't checked, but I am fairly certain that cilantro is not a native Hawaiian spice, yet it is a fashionable spice so restaurants/caterers seem to think: "why not add it". What a pain."
"I was a chaperone for Hands Across the Border, a student exchange program in Arizona and Mexico. Us parents got to go first to scope out the situation. On the long bus ride down I looked forward to an authentic Mexican lunch. When we finally stopped at a taqueria I was close to starvation. I ordered three tacos, sat down with my plate, and eagerly bit into one. Oh my gosh! Quick! Spit it out! The food was rotten. The other parents were happily engorging on their fare, and when they noticed that I wasn't eating they asked what is wrong. Miserable and hungry, I told them my food was rotten. It tasted like how rotten potatoes smell. One of them took my plate and smelled it. Yum, she said, and took a bite. This tastes great, was her conclusion. It's rancid, I countered. Oh, that's just the cilantro, everyone explained. You'll get used to it. No I won't. Instead, I learned how to say, Tres tacos SIN cilantro, por favor. Ciudado, hombre. Tengo mucho alergias. No cilantro o esta el muerto por mi. Get used to it, my eye."
- Janis Dodson Sierra Vista, AZ
"My first experience was many years ago, as I am 73, and buying it for a recipe. the minute I began to chop it up, I felt a bad smell in my nose and it smellled like my cat's box, if I forgot to clean it! I put a bit in my mouth, and it tasted like what I imagined Cat urine to taste like. UGH!!! That had to be about 15 years ago, and it was not popular then, as it is now.
I stay away from it now and substitute flat leaf parsely for it in any recipe. Chefs, now on the Food network channel will tell you that, (and that cilantro is an acquired taste, and many folks don't like it.) I guess there are folks, like us out there that really hate it.
- Barbara C. Hopewell Junction, NY
"Having grown up in Colorado, a veritable Mexican-food paradise, I can't go more than a couple of days without a burrito or a nice relleno. For years upon years, my addiction was fed easily and successfully and readily. Sure, there would be the occasional crappy green chile, or the 'artistic' salsa . . . but they were simply unpleasing.
Then, I'd guess about 10 years ago, this vile weed began appearing in everything from salsa to pico to . . . this is hard to say. . . green chile. At first it was only found at the artsy fartsy Boulder-ish places where the waitstaff would look down their noses at a customer who dared ask for something as simple and unsophisticated as green chile. But then slowly, steadily, frighteningly, its use began to spread like the plague. Now, I live in fear. Someone will say, "Hey, let's have Mexican" and I find myself, rather than being all for it, dreading the inevitable question: "Does your salsa have cilantro in it?" This is always followed by the obligatory "Yes Sir!!!" with some sadistic, nearly criminal smile.
What the hell is wrong with these people? I typically hear two opinions regarding cilantro. The first matches my own, "I'd rather eat a steaming pile of dog doo resting gently upon a dew-laden spring morning lawn." The second is perhaps more disturbing that some bizarre love of this disgusting weed. People will say, "There's cilantro in this? I can't tell, I can't taste it." That's akin, in my opinion to stating, "My arm is on fire? Hmm, I can't feel it."
Thank God for this site and for the eventual, inevitable erradication of this vile weed. "
- Matt Parker, CO
"When I was, maybe, 19, I went on a music retreat which was held at some hippie haven. They served burritos for dinner the first night we were there. I didn't think they were very good, but hey, I was hungry. Big mistake. Within two hours, I was vomiting and worse. Had to stay in bed for half of the next day, missing most of the music retreat. I of course assumed I had gotten food poisoning, but it was strange how no one else had gotten sick, out of about 15 people.
Some time later, I was at a restaurant and almost threw up from the food. This time, I realized the taste was cilantro. My family, however, didn't have trouble with it and thought I was being absurd. Who hates an herb?
I figured it was a taste aversion, and forced myself over the next 5 years to slowly eat more of it. It doesn't make me sick anymore, but I still am not fond of it. At any rate, maybe there is hope for some people, with intensive and dedicated therapy...
Here's my question: People here are talking about also having problems with Sweet & Low. Do they mean saccharin or aspartame? I don't have trouble with Sweet & Low (saccharin) but I have more and more trouble with Equal (aspartame) giving me headaches (especially in Crystal Lite). Apparently aspartame problems are related to really mild phenylketonuria. Maybe this is the same thing that cilantro is acting on?
"My first (and last, God willing) run-in with Cilantro occurred not a week ago at a little place called Donny P's.
Also known as Don Pablo's, its a great Mexican chain restaurant. Fun atmosphere, decent food, etc., and a few co-workers and I chose it for our lunch. My lunch came with a salad, and the waitress ran through the dressings for me. 'Cilantro Ranch' came just after regular ranch and just before italian.
My impending doom is clear to me now as I recount the events. Ranch is my preferred dressing, and here it is, in a Tex-Mex knock-off place, presented to me with the exotic and little known 'Cilantro'. Is it spicy? Too spicy? Will I be able to pull it off in front of my co-workers spicy? A combination of all of the hottest peppers in Latin America, mashed, dried, cured, and reblended by a Salvadoran octogenarian, who only works in the dark of the new moon?
"I'll have the Cilantro Ranch." I smiled at my co-workers.
"You like Cilantro?", one asked.
"Of course I do. It's great."
Let that be a lesson to you would-be BSers out there. Careful. My salad arrived, and on top I proudly poured the entire bowl of dressing.
I knew even before the first forkful hit my mouth that something wasn't right. Call it intuition, ESP, ancient Indian spirits whispering on the winds... I -sensed- something was amiss. When it did arrive, my premonitions were confirmed.
This isn't spicy. Not at all. The ranch must be bad. What's happening here? All of this flashes through my mind as I glance up to make sure no one can tell I'm panicked.
As I swallowed the first bite, I knew I could take no more. But what would I tell my co-workers? Surely they'd had this demon weed and would simply laugh at me and it would be over? I could take that. I could handle that. We'd all have a good laugh.
"Have you guys had Cilantro before?"
"Sure, pretty good isn't it?"
And here I made my fatal mistake, and this is the lesson for all of you:
Your feelings on Cilantro will be immediate. Don't hesitate, don't feel pressured. Act on your instincts. They will guide you well.
"Sure, it is good," I (rep)lied. And had to eat the whole bowl to prove it.
Don't let this happen to you!
- Rich Titusville, FL
"Wow..Where have you been all my life? I've been looking for a site like this for a long time. *sigh of relief*
So my first memory of cilantro destroyed my childhood. Unlike most people who had fully developed adult thought processes, I was scarred by the toxic green.
I come from a Chinese family and the authentic stuff ususally contains cilantro in most of its dishes. My mom rarely used it though, but one day she decided to use it in our meatballs. Alot of it.
I took one bite at dinner to reveal the nuclear core, leafy greens sprouting out where i last bit. Mouthful of meat and greens, yet all i could taste waste this leathery, acidy, slippery, foul...taste. At that point i impulsively spat it out and made a dash for the sink to rinse my mouth. It stuck like stink.
Since then, my senses has been highly attuned to it. At first i'd have to take a bite into something with it. Even the slightest tiny leaf in a mouth full of food would ruin that bite. Soon, i could tell if there was cilantro by just smelling.
The smelling became some focused that i could sometimes smell it carried across a restaurant by a waiter. I still instantly gag when i smell it. My ears tear up, my throat becomes very tight, and my stomach is ready to leap out of my mouth.
What bugs me the most is my friends can't taste the damn stuff. They think im queer, but what do they know. I'm finally home. Thank you."
- James L Taipei
"I grew up in New Mexico in the 50's and 60's. As far as I know, this disgusting weed was unknown there. It was only when I moved to California, I discovered the foul taste. I had no clue as to why I hated Mexican food in California when I grew up loving it in New Mexico and west Texas, other than it tasted totally different. I put it off to it being California in the mid 60's, possibly a failed "druggie" experiment in mind alteration. I just quit eating Mexican food.
Being in the Navy, I was transferred to Iceland. My new wife came with me. She knew how to cook southern food (fried everything!) and some Cajun. But we had a Betty Crocker cookbook and she tried a Mexican dish, which I loved. Mystification arose as to why I liked it again. Another recipe, this one terrible. The only major difference I could see was cilantro. Tried that recipe again without cilantro and loved it. Mystery solved.
So I avoid it now, as best I can. Of course, my wife and daughters dislike it too (must be inherited).
BUT WAIT! There is a new disaster happening and we need to take action against it now. Warn everyone you know about epazote. This is literally a weed that is taking over the world. If you make the mistake of planting it, it even chokes out kudzu, a type of ground cover similar to ivy, which nothing else can do.
Epazote rivals cilantro in the taste terrible department. I saw Emeril use it one night and decided someone needed to protest. I propose renaming this site to ihatecilantroandepazote.com. Stand up and fight now or suffer in the future."
- Phillip Wade Columbia, LA
"Hi, my name is Chris and I hate Cilantro.
I live in the UK and have hated Coriander for as long as I can remember. Recently I found myself travelling to the US and whilst in a 'Red Lobster' restaurant decided that I would like to try something new. I noticed that with my salad I could have a Cilantro dressing. Having heard this ingredient mentioned on US TV shows (apparently everything in California is covered in it). I decided to give it a go. Imagine my horror when I found myself with a mouthful of the poison that I had previously known as Coriander! After some wretching I was able to put the traumatic experience behind me. In future I will make sure I know the local name for this evil plant before any international travel."
- Chris Watford
"I was an exchange student to Mexico in high school and loved the authentic food I had there; all except for one dish that I could not handle for a number of reasons...
Some may know "menudo" as a teen boy-band from the 80s. It is also a soup, usually consumed after staying up all night partying, and the Mexicans swear that if you eat "menudo" before going to bed, you will not get a hang over.
"Menudo," to the American palate, is already hard to stomach, as it is basically tripe and hominy soup. But if that was not hard enough to choke down, it is also swimming with cilantro!
Being a good cross-cultural ambassador, and never having encountered this horrid green herb before, I kept trying to eat the soup (steering clear of the tripe) so as not to offend my hosts. Everyone else seemed to be unaware that the broth, hominy, and everything else was full of a soapy, vile flavor, yet they kept happily eating away. I finally narrowed the putrescence down to the green leaves and stems of cilantro.
Since my return, I have found that many red heads are cilantro sensitive, though there are others. It truly does ruin otherwise perfectly good food. It's great to find a community with whom to commune cilantro free!"
- Ross Los Angeles, CA
"I never knew I had a cilantro problem until 1995.
That was the year I started finding the stuff in ever-larger pieces on my ethnic food. And even larger pieces on my "modern fusion cuisine". One camp emboldened the other, and next thing you know it's the largest ingredient by weight in my Banh Mi, my Pho, my Chaat wraps, and even showing up in my sushi. Enough!!
Cilantro is a seasoning, not a g-ddamn vegetable. Little sprinkled bits are one thing (an objectionable flavor to me, but subtle enough to ignore.) The problem are the huge freaking tree-branches of the stuff, the tufts of leaves, the bushels of green that adorn so many dishes. If we could relegate it back to the realm of garnish, we wouldn't have these problems. I can handle the flavor when it's just a sprinkle.
This is the same crap that happened with basil when people started using huge leaves of the stuff when just a sprinkling will do fine. That too is not a vegetable, but a seasoning.
What's next, munching on whole twigs of raw lemongrass? "
- Alan M Boston, MA
"OK, so tell me how cilantro fits into ITALIAN cuisine. The cook at this small Italian restaurant obviously did not possess an adequate sense of smell--or sight--when he picked up cilantro at the market instead of Italian parsley. I ordered Tuscan bean soup and it arrived covered with cilantro. Being a longtime cilantro HATER, I didn't even need to taste it to know what was on my soup. I sent it back and explained that the cook must have used cilantro instead of parsley. The replacement bowl of soup came back but the cook had only stirred the hateful green bits into the soup so he could "hide" them on me. One taste and I almost started crying, the flavor was so disgusting. I had to wipe off my tongue and still, the taste wouldn't go away. It is vile, vile, vile. The taste of this herb permeates food so thoroughly IT RUINS EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES. "
- Rita New York, NY
"I never did understand why I would involuntarily gag after trying salsa at most Mexican restaurants as a kid. It wasn't until I was out for a romantic dinner with my husband (then boyfriend) at a Thai restaurant that I finally realized what had been plaguing my taste buds for years.
We were seated at a window table and had both just ordered Pad Thai, garnished with what I thought was parsley. I took a bite of the Pad Thai noodles, and decided to throw some of the garnish in my mouth as well. Not two seconds later, I had spit my entire mouthful of food back out on my plate! It happened so fast I didnít even initially realize what Iíd done! My then-boyfriend (who does not embarrass easily) witnessed this and turned a deep shade of red, while ducking his head from passersby who were now staring at me because of that reaction.
I asked a waitress what the garnish was and she told me it was cilantro. I picked up a piece, smelled it, and realized I finally had found the source of that awful, rancid smell and flavor Iíd silently endured for so long.
Now, like other cilantro haters, I can smell and taste it even in the smallest quantities when itís put in food. Itís ruined many an Indian, Thai, Mexican and Japanese dish for me when dining out. It makes me wish all these cilantro lovers or cilantro indifferent folks could spend a day with our taste buds to see what the fuss is all about.
- Sarah Tacoma, WA
"Everytime I go out to eat, no matter what the cuisine (naturally avoiding Vietnamese, authentic Chinese - west coast, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Pacific Rim, Morrocan & anything fusion) I have to double-check with the waitstaff to make sure that the evil weed hasn't found it's way into the appetizer or entree I've ordered. You'd be suprised at how some chefs on being creative think it's a good idea to dump coriander and/or cilantro into time-tested recipes. (There goes dinner...)"
- Kathi San Francisco, CA
"Oh my - I thought I was the only one. I feel so liberated.
My friends adore this vile, putrid menance, and tend to sprinkly on everything we eat. Dish after dish of loveliness destroyed in a leafy green moment. Once, we grew a variety of new herbs in our community garden. After two weeks of Vancouver sunshine, the smell was so vile it made me retch. I tried to wrench it from the earth, and the crushed juice from the stem got onto my hand, making me retch again. I had to get my boyfriend to destroy it meters away from me.
Long live the resistance - say NO to silly cilantro.
- Yummy Vancouver
"I managed to escape the evil that is cilantro until I was well into my 20's, and was lucky enough to be surrounded by loving friends who were able to explain and comfort me through the experience.
A couple of years ago my husband and I went to eat at a Mexican restaurant with some friends, said restaurant being well known for the authenticity of its food. The food was delicious in general: great nachos, fantastic mole poblano, yummy churros. The only black mark was the salsa. The first bite I took, my mouth was filled with burning soap. Really burning! So, I did what any sensible human being would do and took another bite. Nope, the burning was still there and my lips were starting to feel numb. When someone else at the table exclaimed that there was far too much cilantro in the salsa, I knew what the problem was and ate my nachos "virgin" from then on. T
Throughout the evening our table was cleared regularly, but the salsa remained (although we were all out of nachos). We were joking about how maybe it was a subtle hint that we were supposed to eat the salsa as an accompaniment with everything, including the vanilla ice cream that came with dessert. Never one to pass up an opportunity to potentially harm myself for the amusement of others (future Darwin Award recipient...), I proceeded to take a bite of vanilla ice cream and, yes, cilantro-laden salsa.
It was what I imagine licking an ashtray that hasn't been washed in 30 years tastes like. But worse.
And the taste STUCK.
And stuck, despite copious amounts of water and Sprite and churros.
Now, I know I have only myself to blame, but the "flavour sensation" attack I experienced only goes to prove the horror of cilantro. You would never find a nice sprig of parsley or bunch of spinach leaves causing such levels of taste defilement! (It makes me wonder - has there been an Iron Chef cilantro battle? I can totally picture them making cilantro ice cream.)
I've learned my lesson and give the evil weed a wide berth now.
- Sandra Calgary
"It affects us Canadians too!
Vile substance that makes everything taste of dirty dishwater.
I hate cilantro. I hate it and the horse it rode in on."
- Everglade Toronto
"I managed to live for over 30 years without coliander leaf (it isn't a part of bristish food - was was brought up in the UK). Then I went to live in Venezuela where it is frequently used.
At first I found it more or less neutral, but as it starting appearing more & more in my food I soon realised just how repulisve it is. When somebody gave me some food with the distugusting substance included I would use all my appetite & my stomach would churn. Fortantely here is Spain I have escaped from its evil influence.
- Mike Valencia
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