Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cilantro: Creation of the Devil

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.


  1. Thank you for your courageous stand against cilantro.

    I actually heard a chef on a cooking show extolling its grassy flavor. If I want grassy flavor, I will graze on my front lawn.

  2. "haikus of hatred"- what a great phrase.

  3. Your writing is laden with delicious alliterative phrases that delight. The "loathsome leaves....terrible tang" inspiring "hateful haikus." Hahahahaha.....brilliant. I love it....the writing, not the horrible herb.

  4. Oooops...I meant to quote correctly "haikus of hatred."

  5. When I worked at a grocery store a few years ago, a shopper asked me what the difference was between cilantro and parsley because they look the same. I told her "If it smells like pungent body odor, it's cilantro".

    I cannot comprehend enjoyment of this stuff. It tastes like soap and b.o.

  6. Childsplay, the difference between us and the ones who like this stuff is that they think it's 'grassy' and we think it's nasty.
    Thanks, SuperRaizy and Deborah for the compliments; writing this is pure fun!
    Catherine, I can't even come up with a word that can describe cilantro's unique repugnance. BO is too much of a compliment.

  7. Hey, good to know! My mom feels the same way. I love it, though, and I read it was good for you because it chelates toxins out of your body. Oh well! To each her own!!

  8. Hey, good to know! We love it but my mom hates it. I read it was good for detoxifying the body of heavy metals---guess that's not reason enough for the haters, however!! I won't cook w/it next time you visit, that's for sure! I hear there are similar sites devoted to the evil nature of Crocs (those ugly plastic shoes). Dontcha just love the internet??

  9. I just don't get it. I LOVE cilantro. When I buy some fresh cilantro, I can't STOP smelling it. I must looks silly with my face in the cilantro, and it's probably unsanitary, but the smell of cilantro is the quintessence of life, freshness, and everything good and light and wholesome. I LOVE it.
    But.... I still love you, too. And I suppose you inadvertently paid homage to cilantro with this blog post dedicated to happy, yummy, bright green face-tickling cilantro! Yum!

  10. Bethany (Cam's wife)February 19, 2009 at 10:46 PM

    Thank you! I also can't stand the smell of cilantro, but I seem to be the only one in my family without the "cilantro loving gene". Either there's a glitch in my system or everyone else's! I say everyone else's.....

  11. Faith, I cannot believe that infernal weed chelates. Is that an herbal verb? (just kidding).

    Mink, forcing me to inhale cilantro is the equivalent of torture.

    Bethany, nice to hear from you, and be of good courage--WE ARE RIGHT! Cilantro is eeeeevil!

  12. I am so with you. Cilantro is gross.