I hate cilantro. It is a most foul & gawd awful poison. It tastes like frakking soap! And if it's used in a food recipe, it makes the food taste like soap! What do I mean that it tastes like soap? I mean just that: It really does taste like soap! It's a genetic trait. Some people taste a nice herb when they eat cilantro, but others like me only taste revolting soap when we eat cilantro.
Ever wonder what soap tastes like? Then take a bar of soap & lick it real good. That gawd awful taste is exactly what cilantro tastes like to me! Soap! And I don't want to eat frakking soap! So please, when I tell you that I don't like cilantro, I mean it! I don't like cilantro! I frakking hate the soapy taste of cilantro!
It doesn't matter if cilantro is prepped raw, cooked, baked, fried, or grilled. However it's prepared, cilantro will always taste like soap to me, & it'll always ruin a dish for me, because the soapy flavor always comes through! Always!
I've had people try to trick me by not telling me that there was cilantro in the food, even when they know damn well that I don't like cilantro! They are under the mistaken delusion that I just never had cilantro the "right way"; somehow, they believe that the way they used cilantro not only enhances a dish, but would surely make me like cilantro. Wrong! The cilantro always, ALWAYS!, ruins the dish for me because the soap taste seeps into the entire dish!
And then they get upset when I stop eating their food! Hello! I told you that I don't like cilantro, & I meant it! A friend of mine got ticked when I stopped eating the food that she had spent all day making. She knows that I don't like cilantro, but she still tries in vain to change my mind about cilantro being the worst herb ever! But finally, fed up with my refusal to eat & frustrated with my hatred for cilantro, she asked me, "Why are you so damn picky? Why are you being so difficult with cilantro?"
So I answered, "Why are you trying to poison me? Wouldn't it be faster & less painful if you just put antifreeze in the wine or rat poison in the coffee?"
"Cilantro is not poison!", she said.
"It may as well be poison to someone like me who hates the taste of cilantro. Cilantro tastes like soap. And I don't want to eat soap! I'd much rather get hit in the face with a heavy cast iron pan than eat cilantro."
She replied, "Well, keep complaining about my food & you're going to feel my heavy cast iron pan hitting you in the face. Repeatedly!"
So I countered, "Well, then stop trying to poison me with cilantro & I'll stop complaining about the food. And your cast iron pan can stay in the kitchen where it belongs & not mar the natural, beautiful wonder that is my gorgeous face!"
The point I'm trying to make is that my hatred for cilantro is a natural, biological, innate response. I am genetically disposed to tasting soap in cilantro. It may seem like a silly thing, but you try licking a bar of soap, then keep licking that soap til it's all gone. It's going to taste awful! And you'll likely throw up after a few licks. And guess what? That's exactly how I feel everytime I taste cilantro. The first taste is terrible. Any second taste will likely make me throw up & vomit all that food out. It's a survival mechanism utilized by the body to get rid of allergens & toxins. And soap & soapy tasting objects are poisonous & toxic if ingested! And there is no getting around that! I was born this way.
I've written about this before. I had completely blocked out this memory from the horrible experience that I had the first time I ever ate food made with cilantro. It was many years ago when I was just a small child. I had forgotten about this experience until many years later when I was just out of my teens. Some friends & I tried some food at a new Thai place. Ordinarily, I liked Thai food. But there was something in this restaurant's food that made it taste weird & off putting to me. There was a soapy taste in all the dishes, & I didn't like that at all. I thought maybe it was the water they were using. But the glass of water I had at the restaurant tasted fine--like ordinary, clean water.
It wasn't until later on that when I tried to figure out why this particular Thai food tasted bad that I recalled where I first experienced that awful yet familiar, displeasing soapy taste. It was at a restaurant for a family lunch after a day of shopping with my mother & two of my closest brothers. The three of us boys were still toddlers. Mom ordered beef stew. I loved beef stew. It was one of our favorite dishes our Mom used to make, & my two brothers & I loved eating delicious beef stew!
But I was going to learn that not everyone makes an amazing beef stew like Mom. When the waitress brought our bowls of beef stew, my two brothers & I were so excited & couldn't wait to eat it. I remember taking one spoonful, then immediately spitting it back out onto my napkin, to the horror of my mother & shock of the waitress, all while my brothers laughed out loud at my reaction.
I remember looking at Mom & saying to her, "It tastes like soap!" & I was pretty adamant that someone had put soap in my food. I thought that maybe they didn't rinse the soap off the bowl when they washed it.
My Mom couldn't detect any soap in my stew, but she was kind enough to believe me, & she let me order a hamburger & fries instead. My two brothers couldn't detect the soap either, so they eagerly divided what was left over from my bowl & chowed down.
Later that night, I overheard my Mom telling my Dad what had happened. I was a bit worried that Dad might not like how I reacted to the food. I was a picky eater when I was growing up. And at times, it did frustrate my family when it meant more work to make something that I would eat.
But to my surprise, my Dad laughed instead, & he guessed that I might be like his brother, who tasted soap whenever he had coriander. I didn't know it then, but coriander is the non-American name for cilantro! Later, I also found out the hard way that Chinese parsley is another name for the disgusting cilantro! It totally ruined a perfectly good take out shrimp stir fry for me. Coriander, cilantro, Chinese parsley, whatever you call it, it still tastes like soap & I really hate it!
It blows my mind how much overboard some people have gone with cilantro. This disgusting herb is being forced into all sorts of cuisines, totally ruining every dish it's in for me. I don't always understand this fanatical obsession people have with overusing certain ingredients, like green tea powder, hot chiles, & kale.
Green tea powder tastes awful; too many chiles make the food too spicy & ruins the taste; I want to enjoy the food, not burn my mouth; & kale is all right--it ain't all that. Fads come & go. I remember when sesame oil was all the rage, then came truffle oil. Honestly, they both were a little too overpowering for me. When it comes to powerful ingredients, a little goes a long way. And when it comes to cilantro, it's a "No, thank you" from me. Followed by an emphatic "Hell, no!" if you insist.
Whether it's in Asian or Mexican cuisine or even fine dining restaurants, cilantro ruins the food for me. So I always make a point to avoid it. It's not about being picky or being difficult. It's about avoiding a food that gives me a bad reaction. And tasting soap is a bad reaction. And I don't give a crap what other people say or the praises they have about cilantro, because to me, cilantro has & always will taste horrible to me. That's just the way I'm built.
People who don't have food intolerances or allergies may not understand this nor fully appreciate this. But when someone has a negative reaction to a particular food, it's probably best to respect that person's wish to avoid eating certain foods. For some, avoiding certain foods is a matter of religious or cultural beliefs. Or maybe some people choose not to eat certain foods, because they just feel like avoiding them. But for others, it may actually be a matter of life & death. Food allergies & intolerances can kill affected people.
Whatever the reason, we should respect other people's choices to avoid certain foods. Sharing a meal isn't just about having good food. It's about respecting other people & accepting that everyone has a choice. And if we want respect, then we should treat others with respect. We should treat each other the way that we want to be treated.
If you like cilantro, then go ahead & eat cilantro. But be mindful that others don't share your views. And if you're going to invite someone over to share a meal, then take into account any food allergies & restrictions that they may have. It's a hallmark of a good host to know their guests or at least make every reasonable effort to make the guests feel comfortable.
Sharing a meal is an opportunity to connect with, understand, & learn new things about others. It strengthens bonds & fosters new relationships. And yes, it's an opportunity to make new discoveries & try new things. It's good to encourage people to try new things, to help them broaden their horizons; but it's more important to respect people's choices.
Don't try to push people into uncomfortable positions. Don't try to force your views on others. Push too hard & you might suffer a severe blowback. People are different. Accept it. It'll make things a lot easier to deal with. That's life. Variety makes life interesting. Learn to listen. And accept that not everyone is going to share your views & tastes.
And when someone tells you that they don't like cilantro, then for gawd's sake, DON'T SERVE THEM CILANTRO!
One night in Bangkok
That offal taste