Sunday, May 21, 2006

Animal Crackers in My Soup

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain....

Wish I was a Kellogg's Cornflake
Floatin' in my bowl takin' movies,

I need a little sugar in my bowl,
I need a little hot dog, on my roll

Cheeseburgers in paradise.
Heaven on earth with an onion slice

I don’t want french fried potatoes
Red ripe tomatoes
I'm never satisfied
I want the frim fram sauce .....

Peel me a grape, crush me some ice
Skin me a peach, save the fuzz for my pillow

Ever think about how many songs mention food? Tons and tons. But here's something you probably never realized, nor even spent much time thinking about: Not one of the gazillion songs about food mentions cilantro. Nada, niente, nyet, zip, zero, zilch. Not even Simon & Garfunkle's wistful ode to my spice shelf dared mention it.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine.

And that's just fine with me. Why? Because I. Hate. Cilantro. Not just a little. A lot. A lot, a lot. How much? Enough to push away my dinner plate at the slightest sting of it on my salivating tongue. Enough to order Green Eggs and Ham rather then a parfait glass of untested cerviche. Enough to make me...well you get the picture. Some people turn their noses up at at the mention of sweetbreads, or Rocky Mountain Oysters and that's more than understandable given their original purpose before they landed on your plate. Not me. I've dined on brains and balls in my culinary travels and I'd gladly take both served over easy (with extra hot sauce for the "oysters") than have have one spoonful of a dish laced with cilantro touch my ruby lips.

I know you're thinking: Whassup with that? I realize that for most people, cilantro is a seemingly harmless, little green plant mentioned as a footnote in old Mexican and Chinese recipes. Replace it with parsley and no one will be the wiser, not even your great aunt from Guadalajara. People will tell you it's not like garlic that will seep through your skin 24 hours after eating it and noxiously inflitrate another's personal space like a bad dime-store cologne. It won't set your mouth on fire like a serrano pepper. Nor will it kill you like Fugu, Japan's lethal and oh so expensive (in more ways than one) delicacy.

So for years, and while cilantro remained below the radar screen of haute cuisine, I kept quiet about my loathing thinking it was some weird tastebud gene thingy or some repressed childhood trauma with a cilantro bush. I lived happily in my cilantro-free castle while my significant other, who is the best cook a girl could lasso, avoided the odious cuttings, preferring instead to sprinkle everything--including grapefruit--with healthy amounts of basil leaves from his native Italy, topped with Italian parsley for some extra color. Every once and a while when I came face-to-face with the hideous herb, I surreptiously would pick out the toxic leaves that garnished my gazapcho more for decoration than flavor, and carry on. Close friends in whom I confided knowingly avoided cooking with the dreaded cuttings when inviting me for dinner lest they hear another of my rants; even our dogs knew enough to steer clear when some unsuspecting acquaintance dared to mention the "C" word.

But something happened in the past 5 years or so. Cilantro has become the darling of trendy restaurants. It has become the "it" spice of the aughts. I'd happily blame it on the ginormous number of Mexican illegals piercing our borders but I've been to Mexico enough times to appreciate that even Mexicans don't pledge allegiance to cilantro. No, this was clearly a conspiracy by American chefs to make everything from pizza to sushi taste like doll hair, and it's enough to make this die-hard foodie cry. Meal after meal, I kept wondering: How did I veer so off course? How did I find myself sitting on the sidelines in the great banquet of life? And the most gnawing introspection of all: Was I the only one out of step?

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when a friend sent me this link about a grassroots organization whose sole mission is to ban cilantro and save the world from this scourge.

Who knew? Pickets, rallys, testimonials, even a pie chart of what people think it tastes like, e.g., soap, doll hair, dandelions, or my favorite, burnt rubber. Holy Bat Herb. Never mind, wiretapping, or rendidtion. Stop the proliferation of cilantro now, Hillary. Hallelujah! This is a cause I can get behind. This is right up there with learning that somebody gave Bush a blowjob in the Oval Office. So I say, let's get this party started.

Yes, I accept the fact that this may still be a weird Portia gene thingy or one of her leftover repressed boogeymen, but at least now I know I'm not alone. Now I can stand tall with my dsyfunction. Now I can look my waitperson in the eye and say I don't do cilantro. Suddenly, the world seems a leaf or two less hostile.

My name is Portia, and I'm a cilantro hater.


This has been a Public Service Announcement courtesy of a Heigh Ho guest blogger, and does not reflect the opinion of management. The map provided here is for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to draw any nexus between the growth of cilanto and Bush's failing popularity. If you believe your rights have been violated, please contact your local IHC representative for further information. Help and support is only a phone call away. You need not suffer alone anymore.

Whether or not you are a cilantro hater, please make sure you cast your vote in the post below, and let management know that that you want Heigh Ho to keep its doors open so it can continue to bring you important messages like this.

(Posted by Portia, cilantro-hater and proud of it.)


spd rdr said...

Oh. My. Gawd. Portia's run right off the tracks. Cilantro? You're joining a grass roots campaign against cilantro? Good Lord, woman, why?

Oh I know why. It's because you are a racist euro-centric imperialist, and probably harbor fascist tendencies.. That's why.

See, right here it explains everything:

Coriander (cilantro) grows wild in South East Europe and had been cultivated in Egypt, India and China for thousands of years. It is mentioned in Sanskrit text and the Bible Spanish conquistadors introduced it to Mexico and Peru where it now commonly paired with chilies in the local cuisine. It has since become very popular in the Southwest and Western part of the United States as well as in most metropolitan areas. An interesting note is that people of European descent frequently are reviled by the smell of cilantro. It has not gained in popularity in Europe as it has in many other parts of the world.

But I have to admit, even though I have nothing against cilantro, I am a bit put off by something the Greeks called by the same name as "bedbug" because they smelled alike. Of course, because I live beyond the limits of trendy New York cuisine, I rarely encounter the herb at Taco Bell.

portia said...

Bedbugs!!! That's it. That's what cilantro tastes like! Or what I imagine bedbugs would taste like.

I don't buy that aprodiasc lure, however. That's just the Cilantro Council trying to find more converts. Think about it. If cilantro really were an aphrodisiac, wouldn't it grow strong and tall like an oak tree instead of teetering in the wind like the insipid weed it is? No, no stick with oysters:)

You may not be overrun by cilantro yet but mark my words unless you join me in this crusade you'll picking it out of your swimming pool drain if not your Taco Bell special before you have a chance to finish reading Team of Rivals.

Pile On® said...

Cool, another hate group to affilliate with. I don't hate cilantro but I don't see why that should matter, I hated it once.

As a young lad from Nebraska I don't think I had tasted it until employment relocated me to San Diego. There were these little Mom & Pop resteraunts that served take out roasted chicken, salsa and tortillas. Great stuff, but there was this one close to home that put cilantro in the salsa so heavy that I could not stand it. For a while I detested even the smell of it.

Then one day it just stopped. All of the sudden I didn't hate it. I liked it. Then I loved it. Now I seldom go grocery shopping without buying it.

On the bright side Portia there seems to be a safe place in Montana, there on the Wyoming border. It is probably I a little like Brooklyn.

portia said...

You guys are the best and because of your support I gave your e-mail addresses to "" organizers so they will contact you directly about volunteering to fight the good fight in your local neighborhoods:)

Why do you think that happened Pile? Do you think after eating that much cilantro your body developed an immunity to it sort of like what happens with a vaccine? If so, maybe I just need to bite the bullet and consume buckets of cilantro-infused salsa for a week so I can learn to love it too. Ohhhhhhhhhh, I don't think I can do it...I'm sticking my tongue out and making gagging sounds as I write. Ewwwww. Change.Image.Quickly.

Montana on the Wyoming border huh? Cool. Than I can quit worrying about cilantro and focus my attention on my love for Cheney:)

Maybe I'll just head to Iowa and express my civil liberties with the rest of them.

KJ said...

Well, I am glad to see that Portia doesn't turn her nose up at food just because it was once a testicle or some similar matter.

As far as I'm concerned, once its cooked, if it ain't poison, it either tastes good, or its needs more hot sause.

portia said...

doesn't turn her nose up at food just because it was once a testicle or some similar matter

Nope, neither on my plate or off. Most of the foods I dislike have more to do with texture issues than taste, stuff like oxtail tongue, anything in a gelatin base, and rice prudding (sorry, Pile). I've never had fish eyes but I bet I would have same problem with them especially if served in a gelatin.

I had a slight texture problem with the Rocky Mountian Oysters I had several years ago at a friend's ranch in Sonoita, AZ but I think that had more to do with my insisting that they be cooked well done--sort of like what my mother used to do with calves liver--so I can't say whether ot was the RMOs or the preparation.

Of course, there were a few at the table who never even got to issue of how they were prepared or cooking times claiming they had given up meat for Lent (it was October).

Silly. But then again I didn't think twice about having my dog neutered.

Pile On® said...

You don't have to apologize to me about not liking pudding.

To me pudding is merely an instrument by which I measure nature and mental wealth of the blogosphere.

portia said...

Thank you Pile for giving me a pass but I 'm afraid I've already been misunderstood. By saying out loud that "I don't like rice pudding" I've given HH readers the notion that I don't like pudding, which is the farthest thing from the truth. That's like saying that because I don't like "cream of wheat" (and I don't...but that's next week's post) that I don't like cereal or because I had a slight texture problem with bulls balls that I don't like...well you know, testicles. Again, that would be the farthest thing from the truth.

So, let's all take to a moment to soften our hearts--whether it be about pudding or any other random yardstick we might use to measure the nature and mental wealth of the blogosphere-- because, my friends, in the end "the [pudding] we take is equal to the love we make."

Holy cow. One small word, and those lyrics finally make perfect sense:)

As you were.

spd rdr said...

Don't make me come back there!

Pile On® said...

See, the mere mention of pudding yeilds a gold mine of data. A gold mine.

Cricket said...

At last, being PC has come full circle.
Hate cuisine.

camojack said...

All things in moderation. I will say that (to my taste) excessive quantities of cilantro are reminiscent of mildewed dishrags, however.

As for them thar "Rocky Mountain Oysters", I just can't get past the very idea of eating balls. Whatever that makes me, by gum, I'm proud to be one!

De gustibus non disputandum est...

a former european said...

I love cilantro you damn heathens! How the heck can you make a proper salsa without it? Its essential in mexican food here in the Southwest.

I guess I can understand how you Waspish, Nor'easterners have trouble with it in your gringo diets, though. Do you also consider ketchup "hot sauce"?

Dill, now, that tastes like a cow's vomited cud. (shudders in horror).