May 19, 2007
My family is Chinese. I grew up retching from the smell of this stuff. It's everywhere where you don't want it - Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, fusion, what have you.
I must have been three when I first threw up from the smell of it on some steamed fish with ginger and scallions (one of my favorite dishes), before my parents learned to keep it separate from my food. Both my brother and I share the same revulsion of the stuff. We quickly learned all the different names it could hide under on menus - Chinese parsley, coriander leaves, cilantro, pakuchi (Japanese), xiang cai (Mandarin). We also learned that about half of my family also gets nauseated at the smell of cilantro (but not my parents).
I have gotten many a lecture from cilantro lovers who simply cannot understand how someone who grew up exposed to this stuff still gets violently nauseous at the mere smell of it. I still don't understand it myself. I can eat shirako and natto with nary a twinge, but this seemingly innocuous parsley look-alike is the only food I've come across that inspires me to hurl. It's a bit embarrassing really. It's nice to know there are others out there with the same issue.
Now I live in Japan, and it is wonderful living in a cilantro-free society...
(*The Japanese use a parsley called mitsuba, but it doesn't trigger the same vomit reflex in me. I find it an excellent substitute for any recipes that require cilantro. I imagine that mitsuba must be what cilantro tastes like to folks who like it.)