May 04, 2007
I was a junior in college in the spring of 1993 at the University of Texas at Austin when I first tasted the disgusting formaldehyde substitute. The restaurant was El Arroyo (a great restaurant despite the near-inexcusable use of cilantro described below), a TexMex restaurant owned by former Longhorn and Detroit Lion Doug English . I remember having missed lunch that day, so I was particularly hungry. When the appetizers reached the table I took a tortilla chip and dipped it into some delicious looking guacamole, then dipped the guacamole chip into the queso dip and finally topped it off with some hot sauce and salt. My mouth was prepared for the best of tastes, but what it got was nothing short of repulsive. My fear was that someone had accidentally poured some sort of chemical into the food. I immediately spit the food into my napkin and tried to rinse my mouth out with some water. Only upon close inspection of the food on my plate did I notice the devilish little shavings that I later came to know as cilantro. I have been fighting a losing battle with restaurants who serve the stuff ever since.
What is most baffling to me is that some people actually like the evil herb. One friend even told me that he associates the taste with "freshness." While my friend's bizarre sentiment toward cilantro has caused no problems between us, I can definitely say that my relationships with fellow cilantro haters have definitely been strengthened. The bond that I have formed with these courageous detractors is, in my view, the incidious weed's only saving grace.