Cilantro NO!

Cilantro, NO!

Supporting the fight against cilantro!

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A Story

We moved to west San Jose, California many decades ago. I did not encounter cilantro at all while growing up. Being from the east, it was never in our home, and it was not found in any restaurant I visited. Back then, I thought the Mexican restaurants around here were the best. [We are, after all, in San Jose.] Cilantro was not in widespread use at any Mexican restaurant I ever went to back then. I did grow up on the Los Gatos side of west San Jose, but even the Mexican restaurants there were not heavy on cilantro use [back then anyway]. I used to enjoy wonderful salsas all the time. I love Mexican food. That is, I used to love Mexican food, before the cilantro craze. In the late 80's, early 90's it started showing up in the chinese chicken salad at my favorite restaurant. {Ironically, it was not even a Mexican restaurant. It was a new food buffet which gave you a wide choice of healthy fresh foods, which began sometime in the 1980's]. It ruined that [otherwrise]wonderul salad for me. I noticed that every few bites I would get this horrible, nasty, taste in my mouth. I remember thinking "This must be what watered down latrine water tastes like.] I didn't know what it was at first, I just knew it was awful tasting. I eventually discovered the cause -- cilantro. I used to try and pick it out of the chicken salad, because the salad is really excellent otherwise. It never worked very well so now I just have to avoid it. [Note: this buffet is still my favorite restaurant. Except for the chicken dish, everything else is still fresh and wonderful!] As the years went by, cilantro started creeping into more and more restaurant dishes, in a wide variety of restaurants, not just Mexican. The use of it has become epidemic in San Jose. When I first started requesting "no cilantro" the waiters looked at me like I was either crazy or kidding. When I tell people I hate it, and that it makes me physically ill, they act surprised, as if what I'm telling them can't be possible, and I wonder if they actually believe me. This is very irritating. A few days ago I went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch and had to pick around the cilantro. I'm sure I ingested some. I should have known better than to have gone in the first place. But somewhere inside me, I still remember the "cilantro-less Mexican restaurants or yore" , and I keep thinking that "THIS restaurant will be different." I don't know if this borders on insanity or just wishful thinking. Hope springs eternal.

That night at dinner, at a typical family restaurant [that serves typical American style food, i.e. pot roast and mashed potatoes], I ordered what I thought would be a simple shrimp salad with all the normal seasonings you would expect. Quess What? It was a light sprinkling, but I could still tell. Once again, however, I was with a group of friends I hadn't seen in a long time and didn't want to make a big scene so I ate the salad anyway. For the next several dys and nights I had severe cramping in my abdominal tract. I knew immediately what had caused it and made a vow on the spot to never order anything at a restaurant in San Jose again, except for drinks or dessert. [I doubt that cilantro has found it's way onto the dessert cart, but given a few years, who knows?}

I understand the herb is an aid to digestion in some people and it seems most folks around here love it, and that's fine, but it is extremely painful for those of us who are allergic to it, and I wish that more people and more restaurant owners would become aware of it. Our city has an old, rich and very beautiful Spanish heritage, which I have always been very grateful to be a part of. In San Jose, cilantro has become a very popular, healthful, and helpful herb for many people, but not all. Its growing use is becoming a real hardship for those with allergies to it or those of you who just plain don't like the taste. I know that my allergy to cilanto will not stop the tide, but if restaurant owners really knew how many people were going to stop frequenting their establishments because of their use of it, perhaps they would be more willing to put "cilantro-free" dishes on the menu for folks like me -- or at least put on the menu that there's cilantro in the dish so we know to order something else.

Maybe the problem is just because people are not aware that there are so many of us who can't tolerate this herb. I learned on your website of a person who is allergic to parsley. Since I love parsley -- it's garnish on my plate or in my food at a restaurant has never a problem for me. The thought that some people might not be able to tolerate it never occured to me. Perhaps its the same with cilantro. Perhaps just getting word out would be enough to encourage restaurants to consider using it less frequently. If I were a restaurant owner, I would want to know. I'd rather alter my menu then lose good customers. At the very least, I would advise my pa