July 28, 2014
I don't quite remember the first time I had cilantro, perhaps around 8 or 9 years old. My mother never cooked with it, but when we moved to the town I would grow up in, we had Hmong neighbors for the first time. My younger sister and I quickly made friends with the youngest girl in their family and she would often bring over food her parents had made for us to try. I had no idea what it was at the time, and Shoa couldn't say either, but the rice noodle spring roles were particularly disgusting to me.
I would encounter them again in high school when near the end of the year we would bring in food to exchange just for the heck of it. I was not so polite as some of the other cilantro haters here, I physically gagged and spit the spring role out and asked them what was in it. Again, they didn't know as they hadn't made it.
It wasn't until I was 19 and had made the decision to enter culinary school, that I would know what this thing was called. Chef Ray took us into the walk in to instruct us on proper food storage (and later give us an observation test to see what we could remember was in there), and as I was closest to him, plucked a green leaf from its bundle and told me to taste it.
Upon chewing it lightly my gag reflex kicked in, my windpipe closed up and I couldn't stop coughing. I had never had it in just off the stem form. As soon as I got my breath back I asked what it was he'd just tried to kill me with and Chef Ray (while giving me the look that said you must be crazy) told me it was cilantro.
I don't know if anyone else has had violent reactions to it like that, as though allergic (and not just the once either), but I try my best to stay well away from it.
Why does all the delicious looking food have to have that stuff peppered through it like little green landmines? I'd like to live, thank you very much.