April 20, 2006
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.