April 17, 2006
My story starts with a family torn apart by cilantro, but ends with forgiveness. I call it, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
About a year ago, my brother married an amazing woman. She is a brilliant doctor, a great songwriter, and a wonderful cook. Or at least she could be a wonderful cook, if she would get over her obsession with cilantro. To preserve anonymity, I will call my sister-in-law “Onitay.”
Now to be fair, Onitay’s parents are from Bangladesh, and apparently cilantro is an important ingredient in Bangladeshi cooking. However, one might be forgiven for assuming it would not be a big deal to leave out the offensive herb when one is cooking for one's brother-in-law and his wife--both of whom have the good taste to hate cilantro with every ounce of their being. Especially since generally the putrid leafy reprobate is deposited on top of the otherwise delicious food when it is served. But no. My wife and I must inevitably suffer an extended lecture, presented by Onitay and my brother in tandem, that might be called “How Dare You Not Like Cilantro,” as the price of admission to one of her meals.
To be sure, the meals are always worth the lecture. But why is it that those who lack the good taste and refined palate of cilantro haters must take offense at our simple request to leave the loathsome leafy putrescence off of otherwise edible food?
And then I started thinking. Perhaps the reaction is rooted in self doubt. Could it be that Onitay and my brother secretly wonder if my wife and I are objectively correct in our rejection of cilantro? Could it be that our discernment makes them question their own taste, nay, the very nature of their being? I suppose I should feel sorry for them. After all, blood is thicker than cilantro.