May 30, 2010
My first experience with this vile, wretched weed was in Mexico in 1998. If there's one food I love and adore with the same maniacal intensity as I despise cilantro, it's avocados. That's why I was so confused when I would order guacamole and there would be this horribly offensive taste. I put it down to Mexican avocados and decided not to eat them again.
I explained the curious situation to my sister back home, who said it was probably coriander as we call it in London. She then declared with a disdain I hadn't ever seen from her in all the years I had lived with her, that she "HATED coriander!". Everyone in my family agreed and as we never cook with it, the issue never came up again.
There were scattered incidents. At a Vietnamese restaurant, I was served a soup covered in cilantro; I refused to pay. A girlfriend of mine took me to a Moroccan restaurant, I was starving and the dish came with the vile green weed. I took the cilantro out by hand and childishly threw it on the floor, such was my vexation.
In 2001, I went to Brazil for the first time and that's when my hatred of cilantro reached maniacal proportions. They put it on EVERYTHING and in EVERYTHING. They put it in sauces, in rice, in salad, in pepper sauce, in meat. Not a little..a WHOLE lot. It took me ages to find out the name in Portuguese - cuentro or cheiro verde "green smell" - depending on where you are. People don't even consider it a seasoning or an additional ingredient, it's an integral, fundamental component of EVERYTHING they cook. Arguments ensued, restaurant bills were left unpaid after explaining unequivocally that NO cilantro should be put in my food. There were physical altercations. Families and hosts were offended, some mildly, some severely.
As other people will testify, asking people to put NO cilantro, often means LESS cilantro. Even a slightest morsel of cilantro makes me gag and want to vomit. If in a store with fresh cilantro, I would almost vomit when smelling that rotting corpse-like stench. My ears itch and my nose stings as with a food allergy. Worse still, when I explain my revulsion to any non cilantro-haters, they assume I just haven't had it properly prepared and proceed to force all manner of cilantro-containing dishes on me in the hope of "setting me straight".
On many an occasion, I would be seated picking pieces of cilantro from my food, cursing furiously and would be approached by a sympathetic person who once had the same revulsion but over time and in the face of seemingly endless attacks of cilantro had given up and accepted life with cilantro.
They believed they were alone in the struggle.
For each person I met that had given in, that had wavered and not had the strength to continue the fight, I became emboldened. I felt it was my duty to be as vociferous as possible and stop this gastronomic treachery. Since then , I have never passed up an opportunity, whether relevant or not, to express my hatred for the vile, wretched and disgusting weed known as cilantro.
The invariable question always comes - "How can something so simple be so offensive to you?" I return the question to them. "How can something so vile be so INoffensive to you?"
I cannot begin to express what joy it has brought me to hear the stories of fellow cilantro haters on this website. Spookily, we even use the same words to express our disgust. All your stories have touched, moved and amused me and I salute you all, my fellow cilantro haters!