March 14, 2006
I am a life-long cilantro hater, and, unfortunately, come from a Panamanian family. For those who don't know, Carribean and Latin American food, and specifically Panamanian food, always contains cilantro in vast amounts(actually, in the Carribean and Panama, the foul weed used in cooking is called culantro (sometimes sold in the US as "spiny cilantro"), and is a closely-related plant to what is sold in the States as cilantro, and if you can belive it, it has the same vile taste and smell times 10). While I grew up in Denver, I have spent lots of time in Panama with relatives, gagging my way through meals that everyone else is enjoying. At least here in the U.S., cilantro can be avioded, in Latin America, it plagues your existence.
I am lucky enough to be married to a wonderful woman who also detests cilantro - we met in Costa Rica studying cloud forest ecology with a group that contained numerous vegetarians and hippies (not that there's anything wrong with that per se), who insisted on putting copious amounts of cilantro in every dish we ate. Because the vegetarians felt as though their food needs were paramount, whined the loudest, and voted as a bloc, they controlled the meals. It was rough.
That summer, a group of us decided to spend a week or so camping on the beach on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, which involved a 12 mile trek from where we left the van. Supplies were divided up between the group, and I wound up lugging some of the food items, including the cilantro. About half way to the beach, my future wife and I halted at a bluff, ostensibly to watch some soaring King vultures. When all of the group had passed by, I threw the cilantro off the bluff. The two of us bonded over our little secret, and love was born. The rest of the group never figured out what happened to the cilantro, which lead to frantic digging through packs and prolonged bitching when dinner time came around. Needless to say, I ate better for that week than I did for the rest of the trip.