April 18, 2006
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.