|Supporting the Fight Against Cilantro!|
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Visitors contribute their cilantro stories...
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"I have hated c... for over 35 years, since I walked into my nextdoor neighbor's house and almost collapsed from lack of oxygen from the smell of c... It took a long time to figure out what it was, because I avoided Mexican food for a long time, so worried that I might be exposed to whatever it was. It literally knocks the wind out of me.
All of the other stories on this site are quite true about restaurants putting c... on everything and thinking it's gourmet.
My experience is that if I go to a Mexican restaurant and ask politely for "no c... por favor. Nunca. Nada," they still think it's okay to put "justamente pocito." I have to say "Tan alergio" and even then, they put some in. It's usually mixed in their salsa or in their onions or in something else you can't get it out of.
And have you noticed that Sunset magazine and others think EVERYTHING must have it? Oh, it's just so dam trendy!"
- Bill San Luis Obispo, CA
"I am Jewish and am active in my schools Hillel. Every passover, part of the seder (the traditional dinner) we dip parsely in salt water. Well whoever was supposed to buy the parsely was obviously not very observant and accidentally bought cilantro instead. Well when it came time to dip the "parsely" in salt water, I did not smell it, trusting that what I was about to bite into was parsely. When I bit down I got a mouthful of extremely potent awefulness. I just about threw up, my girlfriend at the time found my facial expressions quite immusing. Looking back, I probably did look pretty funny."
- Alex Pullman, WA
"I went to college in San Antonio Tx. from '68 to '72 and my parents and uncle both lived in Guadalajara ,Mexico from '75 to '87 so I am not a stranger to Mexican & Tex-Mex foods/cooking. Cilantro was used mainly in Mexico and hardly at all in the US until the late '80s. In Mexico it was used but VERY spairngly as it tends to dominate the food it's added to. You would hardly noticed it. This all changed in the late '80s when Mexican food became popular in the US. Suddenly it was added to everything in inappropriate doses. Imagine if salt was discovered .... if a pinch in soup tastes good then a cup must taste great!! I love Tex-Mex food but find that most of it is ruined by too much cilantro."
- Jim Hilton Oswego, IL
"When my boyfriend and I first started to get serious he invited me to his family reunion as a way to meet the family! As a treat to his family he made his mom's homemade salsa.. He is not exactly the world's greatest cook, so he worked really hard all day perfecting the flavor of the "secret recipe."
The salsa is very different than most salsa's.. it is blended and pureed and looks tasty! BUT, because its blended, it was impossible to distinguish what exactly is in the salsa... so when he was finished, I asked him what was in it? He mentioned the mentionable things, none of which were cilantro, so I thought I was safe!! We took the salsa to his family reunion. I am not typically a big salsa fan, but when his mother told me what an excelent job Jose had done on the salsa, I had to give it a try. I took a chip and dug deep into the salsa.. shoved the chip in my mouth, with a huge smile on my face. In a split second I had spit the chip and the salsa BACK INTO THE SALSA DIP! And to top it off, the cilantro triggered my gag reflex and i ended up THROWING UP in the salsa!!!!
I was mortified."
- Julie Seattle, WA
"I first REALLY tasted cilantro the first day I went on this site. My mom went to an organic store a bought a mixed salad. After halfway ingesting a long leafy stalk, I felt like I was eating crap. I could not focus on the taste because I leapt out of my chair and spit it all out into the garbage, but all I could explain it as was "poopoo doodoo." After being informed that what the substance was could possibly be cilantro, I went on my computer to make sure. God then bestowed upon me the gift of this website.
I write this story the day after my trauma. As I spent some more time exploring the website, I began tasting the foul murderous herb. As I realized that it did taste like old pennies (after a few minutes of careful examination), I decided to post my story."
- Andrew , NY
"In 1957 a visted Los Angeles, My friend took me to a Mexican restaurant. This was supposed to be a real treat because there were very few Mexican restaurants in the US then. I had flautos and got nauseous from something in it. It wasnt until the 1980's when cilantro suddenly became popular in the US. Then when I tasted it I still remembered the event from 1957. IT WAS the cilantro. The was a period in the 1980's and 90's that cilantro was put into everything, especially in oriental restaurants. During that period i always had to ask before ordering. Even today when it is not as omnipresent I forget to ask and then get stuck with some that I have to pick out."
- , LA
"First real cilantro backslap came when I was visiting a close friend's house for her birthday. Her family's background is Middle Eastern, and her mom made tabbouleh, one of the young woman's favorite dishes. Well, I took one little nibble and I swear my eyes crossed--My tongue rang with the taste of old pennies--Yikes! The rest of *that* bite went in the trash right quick! And here they all were, happily munching away. I felt like a freak!
(I'm more an onion-hater than a cilantro-hater, if only texture-wise, so I didn't try the tabbouleh 'til late. Fortunately!) Oof-dah, remind me never to try *that* again..."
- Aquila Woodbridge, VA
"My mom was always ahead of the cuisine trends, so about 12 years ago, she made salmon with mango-cilantro chutney for dinner. Ordinarily, her food is fantastic, but my dad and I could barely eat it. We just kind of gave each other these looks like 'My God, what do we do? Do we tell her?' My mom couldn't scarf it down fast enough. Anyhoo, truth came out, my mom was shocked, and we haven't spoken since. True, except for the very last part."
- Molly Chicago, IL
"In Guam, we have this AWESOME restaraunt caled "THe Jamaican Grill." For a while, they had this really good, cilantro-free homemade salsa. Then, one day,as I went to eat there, I tried the salsa. And there was CILANTRO!!!!! I never want to eat there again
Also, has anyone ever noticed that taking cilantro out of anything will never help? "
- Zim , GU
"For years every time I ate Mexican food, my nose would itch like crazy. For the longest time I attributed it to the rather old decor in our favorite Mexican restaurant but then I noticed this phenomenon in other restaurants too. Even if all I had was chips and salsa, my nose would start to itch horribly. One day I asked the waitress what was in the salsa and all the ingredients were foods I eat regularly except the cilantro.
But I couldn't be positive it was cilantro; I mean, who the hell is allergic to cilantro! It's like being allergic to parsley.
Then one day at a Tex-Sushi style restaurant, I asked the chef to create a sushi roll for us but when I ate one of the pieces, that mysterious nose-itch started up again! Furiously rubbing my nose, I asked him if cilantro was in the sauce and he said yes!
So there you have it.
Today I went to a fairly upscale restaurant and ordered fish and chips. Since they're upscale, the "chips" came with a lovely green sauce of some kind. Delicious.
Right away, though, that nose-itch started up again. Yep. The sauce had cilantro!
So bugger anyone who says you can't be allergic to it; I am and I'm grateful to find others that are as well."
"Summerlicious is a high-end restaurant food event here in Toronto, you pay a cheaper fee and enjoy an expensive app, main and desert. Well, my $70 dinner had no mention of cilantro in the menu, but when I received my salad, I frowned and spent a good half hour picking out the chopped cilantro out. Why? It sets off my gag reflex. Then the main came. Salmon covered in cilantro!!! I was vexed. I was only really able to enjoy the desert. I thought of sending it all back, and really, in retrospect, I should have and maybe, in future, they won't roll everything in the stuff. "
- Amber Toronto
"A light at the end of a long dark cilantro tunnel!!! One of my favorite Mexican restaurants has taken the cilantro out of their guacamole. The garbage is still in their salsa, and I still take my own salsa with me when I eat there, but I revel in the small victory that is a dollop of guacamole devoid of the evil herb. Thank you SuperMex!"
- Ronster Lake Arrowhead, CA
"I was maybe 5 or 6 when I first had cilantro. My folks sprinkled it on my food, and I ate my meal. It sucked ass! My mom said that she hated it when she was a kid but developed a taste for it. I never did. To this day, I still hate the herb because it tastes like nasty soap. Why the hell would I put it in my food?"
- Max Fremont, CA
"The first time i had cilantro was in indian food. i had no idea what was causing this inability to tolerate what was in my mouth. there was no way i could eat this food, no way to make it stay in my mouth for more than a few seconds. when i mentioned something was wrong noone could identify with me and i just thought it must be some obscre spice.
next time was years later, in mexican food. i had moved to california and found out that cilantro is not obscure after all!
what happens is i am completely unable to even swallow the food with cilantro in/on it. the taste/smell triggers something very unsubtle -- like a gong going over my head. this seems weird to people but i think they are equally weird when i ask people "is that cilantro?" and they taste it and say "i'm not sure...". in my experience about 70% of people respond like this - a shocking thing to me as i probably would taste the damn thing even under anesthesia and they're "not sure". a small percentage of people can taste it well and they can either like it or dislike it.
and guess what, my parents and my sister all really dislike it, although noone has as strong a reaction as me. this suggests a genetic component.
i have been able to eat foods which contain the spice form (coriander) although if there is enough that i can taste it, again a problem. but the main issue is fresh green evil thing!!
people ask me what happens if i eat cilantro. i don't know well because it is impossible for me to swallow it. the only time i ingested any amount of cilantro was when it was inside a gel-based sauce in a sandwich (despite asking for no cilantro as i have learned is a must at any "healthy" food place). it was invisible and hence took a bite and swallowed a bit of the bite before my "gong" went off. the effect was first choking and trying to not swallow any more, then my nasal passages swelled and i could not breathe normally for a few hours.
one time i took a cooking class and they were chopping this large amount of fresh cilantro. the smell hit me and i had to leave. there was no way i could stand there even in the furthest corner of the room. so this suggests the reason i may be not swallowing it at all is perhaps smell based.
it's a problem as this herb is being used more and more in all cuisines. i recently encountered in a turkish restaurant which is just crazy because i grew up in turkey happily without encountering cilantro. but i live in London now and it's almost obligatory in all kinds of food.
i am glad to have found this site as i often get people saying "i've never seen anyone react to cilantro" -- i knew i was not alone! i love the internet!"
- Monkey Gone2heaven London
"I vehemently dislike cilantro. One flake of cilantro in my food instantly ruins my food because the flavor of cilantro takes over the taste of the food on my palate. Generally, I love spicy food. I love Mexican food, just as long as they leave the cilantro out. I live in the most fertile region in the world, the San Joaquin Valley. If any of my friends grow the stuff on their land, I tell them to grow something else. Fortunately, none of my clients grow this "Mr. Ed Food." I suppose you either like it or dislike it...me, I'll take the latter. Nasty stuff!"
- Robert Linderman Lodi, CA
"The first time I had cilantro was in a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco about 15 years ago. I was in college and visiting my uncle on a trip with my dad. I was starving and had just dug into my first taste of the salsa when I became very worried. Clearly, someone was attempting to poison me. I spit my food into my napkin and waited for the effects of the poison to begin. Nothing! In fact others at the table were eagerly eating the stuff. Were they crazy?! I told my dad, "I think they spilled some kind of chemical in the salsa. There is something wrong with it." He said it tasted fine to him. I asked for another bowl and tried a bite but it too had clearly been tainted.
6 months later at a Thai restaurant in Minneapolis I detected the same poisonous flavor in my Tom Yum Soup. My friend explained to me that it was supposed to taste like that--it was called cilantro!
Since that time I have been plagued by the noxious herb many times. I love food, am not the least picky eater. In fact, cilantro is just about the only "food" I will not eat. It does not taste even remotely like any other food on this earth. "
- Karen Appleton, WI
"I first ran into cilantro cooking at a kosher-vegetarian restaurant in the mid-80s.
The restaurant owner wanted to add a different flavor to our tabbouleh salad and order a huge bunch of cilantro to add to the parsley and mint flavors. I had it on my task list for the day to make the salad, so I pulled the cilantro out of the refrigerator and started chopping....
As the cilatro vapors wafted toward my face as it hovered over the cutting board, I could feel myself going light-headed. The smell was so foreign and so utterly vile that I had to walk - no, RUN - away. I asked someone else to take over (they were fine with it), and I realized to my horror that the smell had lovingly and indelibly transferred to my hands! I spent the rest of the day cutting onions, tomatoes - anything to try and get rid of the stink to no avail.
I avoid cilantro at all costs. I do get strange looks if I go to a Southeast Asian restaurant and do "surgery" on my fresh springrolls to remove the offending weed."
- Joel Buffalo, NY
"I live in Virginia in the USA which, thankfully, seems to be relatively cilantro-free. When I was 19 years old, I left home to serve a 2-year mission for my Church in Brazil. When I first got there, I noticed something strange about some of the food that was served there, but I couldn't really put my finger on it. After mentioning it to some other Americans living there, they said it was cheiro-verde (which literally translates to green smell) which was actually cilantro. I had never tasted it before, but I instantly knew that I despised it. Almost every house that I ate in used it entirely too much. I would try to gag down the food so I wouldn't be considered rude, but it was very difficult. I even had one family mention how good they thought it was that I chewed my food so well (I was actually trying to swallow their vile food). Near the end of my stay in Brazil, I was going to eat in the home of a family, and I told the wife that if it contained cheiro-verde, I would not be able to eat it. I figured it was better to be up-front about it. She said okay and I was ready for a decent meal the next day. When we got there, she had made chicken covered in cheiro-verde. True to my word, I didn't eat one bite of it.
When I got back from Brazil, I told my family about this horrible spice known as the green smell (not knowing that it was cilantro). I warned them abouot the dangers of it and to be prepared if they ever went to Brazil. I went through 8 years of mostly being able to avoid the green smell... until my wife bought me a frozen meal for lunch called cilantro shrimp. I microwaved the food and brought it back to my desk, ready for a nice seafood treat. When I opened the dish, memories of gagging on food for two years rushed back to my mind. I was very hungry, but the smell was overwhelming. The food went into the trash and I got McDonalds. I am thankful to finally know that cilantro is the name of the beast so that I can avoid it even better, and that there is a group of such great people who understand the dangers that are before us."
- Travis Fredericksburg, VA
"I was in a Mexican restaurant with my wife and friends. I loved Mexican. I ordered a burrito. When the food came I tasted mine and found that it wasn't very spicey. I like hot food so I asked the waiter for some hot sauce. He did not understand what I was asking for and brought me a shallow dish with a greenish oil. I thought it was some kind of pepper extract that was going to be extremely hot so I dipped my finger into it and tested it for heat. It was not hot at all. It was motor oil with a soapy flavor. I sat there in disgust trying to figure out what he thought I said that would prompt him to so blatantly try to off me with poison. My meal was ruined, I was rattled and the waiter AND chef could not explain to me what this vile liquid was. I didn't know what cilantro was at the time but that taste would come back to haunt me many years later.
I was in California on business and the guys I was working with ordered in "the best tacos on the planet". I love tacos! What I got was not a taco! It was a tortilla with meat piled with green parsley. It wasn't parsley. I isolated the familiar obnoxious soapy motor oil immediately with a huge bite. I was instantly transported back to that Mexican place and the bowl of what must have been the oil squeezed from this poisonous plant that I had in my mouth. I never swallowed. I couldn't. It came straight back out into the foil wrapper as quick as it went in. I looked around expecting to see fingers pointing and laughter bellowing at my expense to this obvious joke. Everyone just sat there and ate. They were eating the same thing I was and no one was puking. I asked someone what the green stuff was and I have been trying to avoid it ever since.
Family and friends find it amusing to try and sneak the crap into my food. I find it every time and I can't eat anything after. Very funny. I'm very sick of it. I think I'll start loading all of my dishes with habaneros and see how they like that! I'll just say "Keep eating, you'll get used to it"."
- Jeff Batesville, IN
"It seems that within the past five years cilantro has been added to more and more dishes when I eat out. I can't stand it!!!! Why do the chefs do this???? What has caused this??? Noone asked me if I wanted cilantro in my food. I can't stand it!!! It masks all of the flavor of the food that you are eating and screams out its own vile, deplorable taste. Yuk!! When I share my dislike, people look at me like I'm crazy. Now here at last this website is a place where I can go to receive understanding and sympathy. (sob sob) I hope cilantro goes away quickly."
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Please contribute YOUR cilantro story.