August 14, 2007
It was 1987. I was at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. I had been eating Mexican food in restaurants for about a dozen years at that point. The obligatory complimentary chips and salsa were proffered. I dove in (being young, poor, and hungry) but after about three bites realized something was amiss. My dining partner noticed nothing out of the ordinary. I struggled to isolate the offending flavor. It was mildew-y, yet a bit soapy at the same time. I quickly concluded that a restaurant employee must have wiped off the rim of the salsa serving bowl with an old sour dish rag. I pointed this out to my partner, suggesting that we ask for a new bowl of salsa since this one was obviously tainted. She proclaimed that the salsa was perfect, with no off-flavors whatsoever.
I don't remember when I figured out that the culprit was cilantro, but it was fairly soon thereafter; it seems that the unholy herb came onto the scene in the late 1980's and was ubiquitous by the mid-1990s. I just don't get it. Where was it before? And why can't it go back there?