April 29, 2006
I had encountered it back east almost never, but my first terrifying cilantro experience happened in Taiwan. I was with a friend in a street market, and he bought us some fried "bricks" of some kind of pork fat on a stick. It was then dipped in oil, then chopped peanuts, and then chopped cilantro! I asked him what it was, and he didn't want to tell me because I might be adverse to how the meat was prepared (he spoke onlya little English, and me no Taiwanese, so we had some translation problems with food)-- little did he know that it was the cilantro I feared! I tried my best to be brave, but after 4 bites of suffering, it just got too overwhelming. The cilantro taste had me in a sweat, and I had to stop and try to calm myself into not throwing up in the middle of a crowded Taipei street market. Everyone was already staring at me since I was the only caucasian for miles around...so I didn't want to make a scene. The panic faded and I had to tell my gracious host that I couldn't it any more. I told him it wasn't the meat part, but the green stuff I couldn't handle. I don't think he really understood, and I felt like an idiot.
Since then, I've moved to California, and it is EVERYWHERE. I resent having to make a big deal at almost every restaurant I visit to ensure that my meal isn't ruined. Even worse is when some dishes say that there is cilantro, so you (unwisely) assume that if it isn't listed, it's not in the dish. Then your heart sinks when it comes - with minced cilantro throughout.
Fortunately, I've discovered and bonded with many of my friends who share this sane assessment of this vile herb.