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Cilantro, NO!

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A Story


I have a coworker who is from India, he is a Sikh. He wears a turban and all. His name is Garm, and his wife is named Binkle. They're great folks, and Mrs. Wiggy and I like them very much. Last summer, we invited them over to our house for a wonderful 4th of July bash, complete with American-style hotdogs, hamburgers and so on, cooked on the grill and topped off with a visit to the local fireworks viewing area. All in all, it was a pretty nice night. And we've been promising each other to get together ever since.

So this long weekend, we put out heads together and came up with Friday night after work being a pretty good time to do it. This time, we'd be their guests at their home, and they'd cook us some traditional Indian cuisine.

Now, I need to make a confession here. I'm pretty bland. In fact, Mrs. Wiggy laughs and refers to me as "Mister Vanilla" when I say such things. She heard me making fun of some fella on the TeeVee who hated to change, and she roared with delight - insisting that if *anybody* doesn't like change, that would be me. She could have a point, maybe.

And I'm also a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to food. The list of food that I don't like would pretty much fill the Superbowl, even after they took the top off. The food I like is described as follows...red meat, starchy noodles, coffee, and beer. Some eggs once in a while to keep the edge off, maybe a taco or a burrito or some corn-on-the-cob. That's pretty much it. Don't like fish, they're too flat. Don't like any seafood, for that matter. Don't like ribs, too much work. Don't like chicken wings, same deal. And I'm pretty much of a late bloomer when it comes to veggies and fruit, too.

I can't blame my parents - they always had a garden, and they loved fresh produce, and they cooked it up and presented it in interesting ways and my three younger sisters just love the stuff. Me, not so much. Growing up in the midwest, we did eat a lot of food others consider strange, though - like lots of canned veggies and fruits - which I like. Grits. Bratwurst. And so on. So it isn't their fault that I am like I am. I have no idea what my problem is.

Mrs. Wiggy is always on me to try new things. She says it is OK if I don't like them, but she insists that I 'give them a try'. I don't even know what that means. I mean, if it smells like death in the kitchen, and it looks like an escapee from a gruesome car accident, do I have to put it in my mouth to make 100% certain that I hate it? I guess so.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, talking about how I'm a 'fussy eater' as they say. Funny how I managed to get some danged fat eating just cheeseburgers, eh?

You might think I'd have viewed this visit to my pal Garm's house with trepidation, given my proclivities, but this was not the case. In fact, I've had a couple of close brushes up against an Indian restaurant, and survived it. They usually have something on the menu that resembles food I recognize, and there are only so many things you can do to a chicken, most of which remain edible. So I had high hopes and no fear when we set off for Garm and Binkle's house.

We arrived at the appointed time, and were ushered in. Garm was not wearing his usual turban, but instead he wore was for all the world appeared to be a pair of pantyhose on his head, with what I can only presume to be his hair pushed up to the front and center and cordoned off by a rubber band, making a knot about the size of a baseball on the top of his head and leaning towards the front. I couldn't take my eyes off it, all I could think of was a clown in the circus with one of those tiny hats. I kept thinking he was going to squeeze a hidden bulb in his pocket and the thing would spin around or shoot water or something. It never did, though.

The house smelled like Indian food and a lot of it, which Mrs. Wiggy adores. She inhaled deeply and commented favorably on the aroma. I was trying really hard not to gag. I find it difficult to describe just what Indian food smells like to me. Something like plastic burning inside an electronic device mixed with garlic and cloves. Or a bag of hair on fire with an onion inside. Something like that.

I mastered my nearly overwhelming desire to run outside and fall over retching, and we were welcomed in to their lovely home. We settled down in the living room and I noticed that although we had a conversation in a normal tone of voice, a television on in the background was broadcasting a satellite feed of a Sikh religious ceremony at a rather high volume. Apparently, this needed to be on during our visit, perhaps it was to cleanse us for what was to come. I don't know, I'm guessing here. Maybe it is like having the NFL on when guests come over, or NASCAR racing here in the South. Just being neighborly.

Anyway, we were soon escorted into the kitchen for what I thought was dinner, but instead it was just a snack - an appetizer, as it were. The entire kitch