April 17, 2006
My Cilantro story is interesting, as my first run in with Cilantro was not to ingest it, but to inhale it. Before I go on, this is NOT a story about smoking cilantro :)
I worked at a very large food distribution warehouse in the chicagoland area. My job, other then to run over stuff with a forklift, was to drive out into the warehouse and grab individual items from large pallets of product and ship them to customers as a quality control sample. This job usually had me up about 40 feet in the air, standing on the forks of the lift and monkey swinging to the proper pallet.
One day, we got a new client. I don't remember the name but this was a dehydrated foods company (based in germany). Since our warehouse distributed to all major supermarkets, I assume those of you in the midwest have had their dehydrated ingredients in a lot of your favorite foods (you would be suprised!).
As I was helping to put the 20,000 boxes of various dehydrated vegetables in their proper racks, I noticed a large amount of them were labled "CILANTRO". I was only 16 and living in the suburbs.... There were no mexican restaurants, or Thai restaurants. So I had NO idea was Cilantro was.
Lo and behold, a day or two later I was tasked with 20lbs of samples from the various lots of the Cilantro. 10lbs from the chopped (or whole) boxes....and 10lbs from............DEHYDRATED CILANTRO POWDER!!!! (lightning). My boss hands me a surgical mask and says "Try not to breath to deeply". "Ok" I say, no big deal... I've had to take plenty of samples from other food items (Dehydrated HORSERADISH POWDER...that took off about 5 years of my life :).
Little did I know that Cilantro powder is crushed so fine that it is exactly the same as powdered sugar. When I cut into the 50lb bag it exploded in my face. The most disgusting smell and taste filled my senses. I started to cough and realized that it actually hurt to do so. I bit my lip and quickly scooped out as much of the stuff that I could.
after I was done, my eyes and nose were burning. Not as much as the horseradish powder, but still enough to notice. My eyes were tearing with irritation so I wiped them with a napkin. dark green tears. My nose was running dark green liquid. my sweat was dark green and to make matters worse the powder had seeped inside my clothing. (picture a bunch of funny latino union forklift drivers speeding around the warehouse yelling "Green eggs and ham!" every time they saw me....I should of kept my mouth shut :)
It was a couple of years before I moved to the city and regularly ate Thai and mexican food. Every time I ate some I had weird flashbacks of inhaling unhealthy amounts of the powder.