November 23, 2010
My first experience with cilantro came when I was about 30 years old. My roommate and I were eating in a Vietnamese restaurant when I bit down on something green that gave me the most unpleasant taste shock of my life. It really was like receiving an unexpected electrical shock, but much more unpleasant. (I work with electrical and electronic equipment and am familiar with electrical shocks of varying severity).
At the time neither I nor my companion knew what this stuff was; she suggested parsley, but I've never had a problem with that. But I was persistent in tracking down the culprit, because I knew I wanted never again to encounter that nauseating soapy taste. Somebody suggested that it might be cilantro, so the next time I was in a supermarket that carried it, I stuck my face close and took a sniff. Big mistake! I came very close to losing my lunch right in the produce counter. But at least I finally knew my enemy's name...
Some people do seem to think I'm weird or defective when I tell them I hate the stuff. They ask me why it's so bad, and I tell them that it's the olfactory equivalent of biting down on a piece of aluminum foil with a tooth filling, only much worse. That seems to satisfy them somewhat. (Interestingly, biting foil with fillings is so unpleasant because it causes an electric shock...)
I love Indian and Mexican food, so over the years I've learned to tolerate cilantro somewhat, provided that it's present in small amounts and, most importantly, very small pieces so there's less likelihood of biting the stuff. But accidentally biting into a big piece of fresh cilantro stem still causes my whole body to twitch.
I don't believe that the pleasure some people derive from cilantro, could ever equal the disgust and physical discomfort it causes those of us who react to it so strongly.