May 22, 2008
My worst experience with cilantro was at a potluck dinner with a Thai theme. I knew that I would have to avoid most of the foods, but that's par for the course. But, I wasn't expecting what happened. I was in the kitchen while someone was preparing Coconut-Cilantro Soup and coconut happens to be something else I have a very strong reaction to (and may be allergic to). But a pot of boiling soup and even a very large bunch of cilantro sitting placidly on the counter seemed innocuous to me. And they were, until the cook tossed the cilantro into the boiling soup. The entire room filled with cilantro fumes and I could barely breathe. I rushed for the door and, of course, nobody but my wife had any idea what was going on.
I hate it when people think I'm "faking it." I have been indignantly served cilantro by people who know I am allergic, as if I could somehow eat it if I wanted to. But I can't -- my reaction to it is that strong. Would they do the same thing with someone allergic to peanuts?
To me, the most frustrating thing is that cilantro's overuse has made so much food that I love inaccessible. For example, it's difficult to find guacamole without it, which ruins a lot of Mexican food. I am constantly surprised by what will have cilantro in it, even when I have told a waiter or waitress that I am allergic.