November 07, 2006
I have had a deadly garlic allergy since I was 8 years old, so I am very accustomed to checking with chefs and hosts what the ingredients are in the food I am offered. About 10 years ago, I attended a potluck dinner. Everyone was aware of the food allergy I have, and they were willing to omit the garlic for the meal. We are a culturally diverse group of friends, and I dug into a great rice dish from an Indian friend. I immediately felt this reaction in my mouth, extending down into my throat. It felt similar to the reaction I have with garlic, but a little different as I had a metallic taste in my mouth. Two friends noticed my distress, and turned to the friend who made the rice dish. She was horrified and swore up and down that she had not used garlic. I have avoided cilantro ever since, but it does add another thing I have to mention when dining out. A common theme I am reading in the other members' comments is an immediate reaction to the cilantro, whether it is a chemical reaction to a component in the cilantro, I don't know, but it is definetly a shared experience. Last year, we went to an Indian restaurant, where I informed the waiter of my two allergies. Guess what, my butter chicken arrived with not only garlic but cilantro piled on top. I had to send the dish back, it was a ruined meal, as everyone finished long before I received my second dish fixed according to my request. Mexican restaurants have been good about honouring my requests. It only takes one mistake to ruin a meal, as I find the taste stays in my mouth long after I have spit out the food.