April 17, 2006
Ah, I remember it well -- the very first time I experienced cilantro. It was in the early '80s, and the foul thing appeared in a container of take-out Vietnamese food. Perhaps this was cilantro's first appearance in our fair nation; the discovery was not unlike how it must have been the first time the ebola virus showed up.
I didn't know the name of the thing -- can something so repulsive have a name? -- but it was instantly recognizable in future dishes, especially as New York suddenly latched onto it as the Latest Thing. Now no place is safe from cilantro. I wouldn't be surprised if sushi bars started wrapping innocent yellowtail in those noxious green leaves.
A friend once fed me a sandwich that contained a NEST of cilantro. I spit it out.
What really infuriates me is how many people try to argue with me, as if somehow I must be mistaken about my own tastes, that underneath it all I must really LOVE cilantro, because -- according to them -- who could not?
There are other foods I dislike -- avocado, curry. But I can eat them out of politeness or hunger. I think that even if I'd been a member of the Donner party I wouldn't have touched cilantro.
And yet, amazingly ... I like coriander, the seed from the same plant. Go figure.