Finally, I am vindicated for my aversion to cilantro. On the front page of Friday's Wall Street Journal is an article legitimizing my complete disgust with being even within inhaling distance of what the article headlines as a "fetid barb of green."
I am convinced it's genetic, this abhorrence for the slightest whiff, much less the teensiest taste (ugh!) of the loathesome leaves. My daughter and son share this disgust with me; my husband, who chows down on cilantro-laden Thai food (certainly never made by me!) with gusto, passed his fondness for the herb to our other daughter.
Little did I know that Facebook cilantro-bashing groups proliferate; that cilantro antipathy causes psychological problems (University of Washington student Natalie Sample, of Mexican descent, is quoted in the article as feeling "guilty" for "letting my heritage down"), and herbal hostility inspires haikus of hatred.
Uh-oh, I feel one coming on:
Eager for curry
Waitress here with steaming plates
Stench wafts and smile dies
Apparently the cilantro-loving gene is dominant. Cilantro production is up, $30 million of it produced in California in 2007, compared to $17 million in 2000. Or maybe there are just a lot more Mexican restaurants. A study did show that identical twins shared this garnish-fondness, while just 42% of fraternal twins did.
Philadelphia cilantro-neuroscientist Charles J. Wysocki says repugnance comes from an inability to detect the chemicals in the herb's smell that please enthusiasts. So it could be we who are disgusted are also faulty. But I don't think it's just the smell. Sometimes, when the putrid odor is overcome by other ingredients, I discover its terrible tang ruining what would have been a delightful dish. If it weren't for those stealth shavings masquerading as parsley.
And those who enjoy this woeful weed just don't understand the strength of detestation for those of us who despise it. They laugh when we spit it out and ask restaurant servers with exaggerated urgency to "hold the cilantro." The article recounts one home-delivery recipient who "threw a burrito across my living room because, despite my specific order, it was packed with cilantro." Packed. Makes me nauseous just to think about it.
What to do? Just don't invite me over if you're cooking with any. And if we're out and I discover some finely diced leaf, just stop laughing as you watch me pick every last speck of it out of my food.