May 30, 2006
My life experience with cilantro was, until last month, a long, nondescript period of vague discomfort and malaise. I understood the fact that cilantro was to be avoided, but like a dog that has been kicked, it was a Pavlovian reaction - I never gave voice to the malcontent, just skirted around the known causes of pain.
Until I finally got broadsided by a most unexpected and potent source of the foul stuff - an Applebees "Weight Watchers Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad". The salad was delivered to my anticipating hands at my office one day. My coworker had the misfortune of ordering the same salad. The salad itself was a thing of beauty; dark greens piled with chicken, cheese, corn and black beans. Just like the menu stated. I gleefully heaped the provided dressing onto my salad - some sort of creamy white substance with fresh looking green herbs in it. Oh, my ignorance. One bite and I knew... the cilantro had found me! I thought surely I must have overreacted based on a shock/adrenaline response, so I forced myself to eat several more bites, as I searched to identify other more desirable flavors in the salad. See, I'm a very open-minded person with a trainable palate. But the more I ate, the more the revulsion and nausea crept in. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I ran to my coworker's desk to ask her if, in fact, it was as bad as I thought. The most traumatic series of events unfolded. She was on the phone, about to transfer her cilantro-infested dressing onto her salad. My mind struggled with the moral dilemma - should I stop her? Interrupt her call? Or allow her to proceed as normal (again trying to dismiss my cilantro-aversion as imaginary). My inability to make a quick decision was, as usual, the deciding factor. I went back to sit with my salad and ponder. Five minutes later, my reverie is interrupted by a call from her: "Is your salad... wierd?" Obviously, she was new to the cilantro experience. Inside, I cried for her and her lost innocence - and her wasted salad which I could have prevented.
I was however thankful that I wasn't the only one trying to justify my reaction, because she also attempted to keep eating through the pain. Finally she complained of numbness and blistering in her lips and tongue. Together, we rinsed our salads, scraped together the sorry remains, added store bought ranch salad dressing, and ignored the lasting essence left by the dreadful "herb" cilantro.
I did call the restaurant, by the way; but I'm afraid my complaints fell upon deaf ears - the manager's name was "Javier" and this unfortunate event happened to fall on Cinco De Mayo... JUST MY LUCK.
A friend of mine found this site for me, and I feel like I've finally come home! I had no idea that something as small and apparently harmless as cilantro could evoke such powerful emotions in other people as well... what a relief it is!