October 20, 2010
Going out and getting Mexican is something I take such pleasure in. You just can't go wrong with a helping of salsa and chips before the main course. I am very proud of being able to tolerate the many and varied kinds of things they throw into Mexican food, such as the hot peppers, garlic, raw onions, guacamole, you name it; I am by no means a picky eater. In 1993 my girlfriend and I were both about to graduate from high school and we were eating at Mexican restaurants more and more often. I suggested we go to a new one that was a little fancier and out of our usual price range, thinking that we might upgrade our Mexican experience as a result of the extra cash spent. The first thing I remember was my absolute delight at the Pico de Gallo which looked so freshly prepared that I ploughed a corn chip into it and took a huge bite. My nasal passages instantly constricted from the presence of some toxic inorganic chemical substance, much like inhaling bug spray or petroleum might affect the sinuses, and I had to hold my breath in order to swallow the bite of salsa without regurgitating it onto my plate. The next bite I took was an extremely small one to verify that the salsa was actually deliberately prepared to smell and taste this way. Why would anybody want to experience this utterly overpowering and sour taste in an otherwise perfectly good salsa? My girlfriend didn't seem to notice anything at all and she ate merrily. The taste of this new thing/spice(?) had also now ruined my appetite, and it was all the same because now my steak tacos came out also amply garnished with whatever this filth was. I figured it was some kind of novelty experiment, passing culinary fad, etc and didn't worry too much about it, but it has since become a regular staple in not only Mexican but in every other conceivable type of food as well, with chefs throwing it into everything from Indian to Italian with childlike abandon. The taste of it has now become synonymous with the experience of dining out for me, and in special circumstances when I think I might have a fighting chance I ask the waiter if I could please have my food prepared without any cilantro, at which point he almost always gives me a curious 'look' and proceeds to fail in granting my request in any way shape or form whatsoever. I have learned to tolerate it the way a person adapts to a permanent handicap, but dining out is now an exercise in futility for me and I curse the day this filthy pestilent weed was 'discovered' by the populace and elevated to such status as it has now achieved.