Over 1,600 cases of cilantro have been recalled due to salmonella risk. Cilantro isn’t just gross, cilantro kills. Eat with caution friends of cilantro. Full recall details from the FDA.

I’m married!

cilantro vows

September 18, 2011

This isn’t the place where I talk about how amazing my friends and family and, now, husband are. This isn’t the place where I talk about how my wedding weekend was the best three days of my life. And this certainly isn’t the place where I thank anyone reading for all your love and support.

No, this is the place where I tell you how I included cilantro in my vows. The relevant excerpt:

There are a few things I am certain about, a few things I’m confident are and will remain true: I prefer Macs to PCs, I hate cilantro, and I’ve made up mind, I love you. I love you without qualification, without reservation, without needing more facts
I figured since I already shared these with 145 people, what’s another 30?
Long live cilantro hate, and long live love.

If you don’t hate cilantro, you just don’t understand.

That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after countless times requesting no cilantro and getting cilantro. A common version of this is the “that thing doesn’t have cilantro,” but it does, and I get it, on my food, that I asked for no cilantro on, iteration. Why? Because if you don’t hate cilantro, you just don’t understand.

Today at Grey Dog, a place I like and frequent for lunches, I ordered the vegetarian chili, without cilantro.

“It doesn’t have cilantro, I think you mean scallions.”

“Maybe it does have scallions, but it also has cilantro, at least sometimes, so I would like to not have that.”


chili con cilantro

Not scallions

As you can see from the photo above, my chili came with cilantro.

What’s a girl to do? Yes I picked off the cilantro, yes I picked off half of the not-much-to-begin-with cheese with it. But really, is it so much to ask for no cilantro, and get no cilantro?

Cilantro and I are having a tough time recently. Or to put it another way, cilantro is kicking my ass recently.

Vignette 1: Cinco de Sucko

This all started last week on Cinco de Mayo when, in a fit of everyone’s-doing-it, some coworkers and I decided to get something Mexican-ish for lunch. So we go to this place the Rocking Horse Cafe in Chelsea. I love vegetables and crema and cotija and fried plantains and spicy salsas and beans and all kinds of Latin flavors, but it’s no secret that Mexican-ish restaurants are probably the most dangerous place for cilantro haters to eat. Nonetheless I’ve gotten pretty good at asking the right questions–Does this thing have cilantro? What about this part of this thing that always has cilantro? Are you sure?–even if it’s sort of an annoying process for everyone involved. So I’m between the chile relleno and quesadilla (because I’m eating dairy and even a bit of fish and meat again, but that’s another story). Those are historically pretty safe choices with relatively few components, each component of a dish presenting another opportunity to sneak in some cilantro. So the waiter assures me the chile relleno is both delicious and cilantro-free as is. Great, I’ll have the delicious and cilantro-free thing, thanks!

Well you already know where this is going, kind of. So of course the dish comes out with cilantro. There’s this mushroom stuff inside and there’s all kinds of super chopped up cilantro mixed in. So the waiter comes by and I’m all “Hey there’s cilantro in this!” and he’s all “No there’s not!” and I’m all “No, I hate it, there is, look, see, there it is!” and he’s all “No that’s just part of the pepper,” and at this point it’s clear I’m not talking to a person who knows what they’re talking about at all. “Part of the pepper” looks nothing like chopped up leaves of cilantro, or what could reasonably be mistaken for parsley (without tasting it of course).

In all my dealings with ordering no cilantro and getting cilantro, a staple of this blog, I’ve never been called a liar! OK so he didn’t explicitly call me a liar, but it was kind of like that. Eventually a manager comes over and doesn’t acknowledge the cilantro mixup but does offer to get me something else. This takes about 20 minutes, to get a plain cheese quesadilla, which I pay for.

Lessons learned: 1) Don’t eat Mexican-ish food on Cinco de Mayo and 2) Trust no cilantro means no cilantro at your own risk. That brings me to…

Vignette 2: Fool Me Once…

So then today some different coworkers and I go to lunch and someone selects Salsa Y Salsa (for the record they’re very nice here and the house salsa amazingly has no obvious signs of cilantro). I consider dropping out of the group lunch at this point, after last week’s experience, but I’m a team player and all so I go along. Long story short I’m told no the veggie tacos don’t have cilantro if you get it without the, duh, cilantro, and guac and pico de gallo. Great! So that’s what I order but it’s cilantro town anyway, plus the rice (as in beans and rice) is pretty much a cilantro pilaf. Cilantro 2, Erin 0.

Vignette 3: You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

cilantro arugula

does-the-job photo by Erin Hollingsworth

So then I go home after a good gym session tonight and have it in mind to make a turkey sandwich (hormone, antibiotic free etc, but slaughtered turkey in any case). So I buy some turkey and arugula and tomatoes from the store, make my sandwich and I’m most of the way through it when… what? Yes a distinct taste of cilantro (see evidence in photo above). So obviously some cilantro got mixed up with the arugula at the triple washing factory facility or something. Now that’s cross-contamination!

Well all of this has been pretty sucky, but there’s really only one way to read the stars here. Life is telling me to get back to the old blog gig and blog I shall.

epic fail photos - Recipe Fail
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Cement or cilantro….? Now that’s a tough one.

Put away that Trader Joe’s Cilantro Dressing, Fish House Foods Ceviche, and Chef Solutions Mexican 5 Layer Dip–it just might kill you (or more likely make you pretty sick).

Friday Orval Kent Food Company announced a recall of more than 20 tons of food, all containing cilantro. Just one more reason to avoid the nasty stuff, if you ask me.

Details in the Orval Kent press release. And if you want a healthy dose of reality, subscribe to the FDAs food safety recall email list, it’s a real eye opener.

On the list of sentences I never expected to see written by someone not-me “The way Gmail organizes mail into conversations is like cilantro.” might be on the top. But as it happens, that very sentence is the lede of what I’m sure will be a popular Gmail Blog post. Thanks Chris for pointing it out.

gmail blog screen shot

At first I was a bit disappointed not to be included in this post that so interestingly likens popular opinion on conversation view to popular opinion on cilantro (more on this comparison below). And what with the Google Gmail blog’s Wiltse Carpenter presumably using Google to search for anti-cilantro sites, and Google’s mysterious algorithm ably finding this niche blog #3 in search results for “i hate cilantro,” understandably behind two I Hate Cilantro.com pages, I’d have a sure spot, right? But then I read the short post again:

And those of you who hate it hate it enough to launch sites like nocilantro.com and ihatecilantro.com (“an anti cilantro community”), where you can hate it together.

And I guess it’s truer to say that I hate cilantro enough to launch a blog (which I moved from Google’s Blogger service to WordPress, coincidence?) where I muse on cilantro hate and a wide range of topics I can relate to cilantro hate (it was really only a matter of time before conversation view was one these topics) than it is to say I hate cilantro enough to launch a site where I can hate it together [with other haters]. I’m more hating it alone, loudly, with a handful of commenters. So fine, moving on…

I did want to think a bit more about the simile set forth though. Conversation view and cilantro are alike because you love or hate them both. Let’s ignore for a moment that there are some crazy fencers out there who deem cilantro “fine” and have an indifference to various Google products and features that frankly I pity (it’s an exciting if nerdy world)–Wiltse next moves on from the simile in its most absolute form and goes on to confess that while he’s (he?) a cilantro lover he loves conversation view even more than he loves cilantro. And this got me thinking.

If you love conversation view more than you love cilantro do you really love it? If you hate cilantro more than you love conversation view, do you really love conversation view? Put another way, which is stronger, my love for Google or my hate for cilantro? That depends:

Will I ever stop loving Google or ever stop hating cilantro? It seems more likely I’d stop loving Google, since things have happened to make me love it less even as I perhaps also love it more for other reasons. Consider the time wasted on learning and never using Wave. (Anyone?) And how not evil are you REALLY Google? Well I still love you, but I don’t know if our love is forever. Will I stop hating cilantro? There was the time I couldn’t really taste it, but there’s never been a time I’ve had a raw bite of cilantro and thought it was anything less that truly awful. I’ve been at this hate for years, I’ve hated cilantro for longer than I’ve had a Gmail account and I think, you know what, I think I’m likely to go on hating cilantro forever, but if that changes, you’ll definitely hear about it here first.

But permanence isn’t the only measure of seriousness. It’s also a question of intensity. And while I’ve been moved enough by the convenience and efficiency Google products provide me (including Gmail and its awesome conversation view) to share this love vocally from time-to-time, indeed one might even overhear someone say “Oh yeah you know Erin, she loves Google and hates cilantro,” it just doesn’t feel as INTENSE. I lack the words but I FEEL more intensely about cilantro than Google, than conversation view. And while conversation might have a new on-off switch, cilantro never will.

Wiltse writes: “So just like you can order your baja fish tacos without cilantro, you can now get Gmail served up sans conversation view.” Yeah that’s all well and good I can get a taco without cilantro (harder than you’d think, restaurants aren’t all as catering as the Google tech team) but what about the next taco, or the surprise attack? If I could get my life served up without cilantro, that would be awesome, and more comprable.

So it seems clear: Wiltse loves conversation view more than he loves cilantro, and I hate cilantro more than I love conversation view and so it’s probably fitting that Wiltse Carpenter is the Technical Lead for Google while I’m here blogging about hating cilantro, when the spirit moves me.

And who the hell hates conversation view?

I can’t wait, and hope I get asked to participate, wink wink @jedsundwall

African Peanut Stew with Cilantro

African Peanut Stew with Cilantro via alaskavegan.wordpress.com

A few weeks ago Dave and I shared dinner with a group of Kenyan expats at 4-Course Vegan. It’s a place where you either go with a group of 8 and take up a whole table, or you share your table with strangers. We shared with strangers and had a wonderful evening. After the perfunctory questions such an occasion calls for–what do you do?, what’s your name?, do you live in Brooklyn?, are you vegan?–were out of the way, we got to talking about Kenya and what our new friends missed and didn’t miss about it. We talked a lot about food. Much to my surprise, cilantro is an absolute staple in Kenyan cooking.

But it took some time to figure this out because Kenya, like much of the world, does not call cilantro cilantro. In Kenya, cilantro is dhania, the Hindi word for cilantro. (There’s a large Indian population in Kenya which I only know because one of my best friends is Indian with a lot of family in Kenya.) So if you’re someone who likes to travel or eat “ethnic” food (that term sounds so vaguely offensive to me, but I don’t have a better one) and hates cilantro, you’ll want to know what the locals call it, especially in cultures that eat a lot of this horrible stuff.

Cilantro: English, Spanish, Italian. Used in the US and much of Western hemisphere and apparently Italy (Cilantro pizza anyone? Gag). This covers Latin cuisine which is of course a red flag cuisine for cilantro haters, but at least you can use the word with confidence that the restaurant will know what you’re talking about. Indeed we get the word in English from the Spanish.
Dhania: Hindi; used in Kenya, India
Koriander: German (I find going for cilantro and coriander both in a restaurant situation where the waiter doesn’t speak really great English to be an effective communication strategy, though for Indian food they use a lot of coriander seed which is delicious to most cilantro leaf haters I know, so if you can successfully clarify you mean the coriander/cilantro leaf and not the seed you’re all set).
الكزبرة: Arabic. Pronounced “el-kez-bur-uh.” You know, the next time you order Falafel in Dubai.
Coriandre: French. Even cilantro sounds beautiful in French, though they don’t have too much cause to use the damn word since the French (at least historically) favor sophisticated herbs like tarragon to horrible ones like cilantro.
Shiang Tsai: Chinese – Mandarin. I have not discovered a lot of cilantro in Chinese food, but then again I’ve never been to China and the cuisine is so diverse there, I wouldn’t put it past one or more of the regional cuisines to rely heavily on cilantro.
Yim sai: Chinese – Cantonese
כוסברה: Hebrew. Pronounced “koos-uh-bur-ah.” Latkes with cilantro-infused applesauce. Mmmm…
Koyendoro, Koendoro: Japanese

Source: Google Translate where you can find the word for cilantro in virtually any language you’d ever want to. I know the next trip I take or ethnic meal I eat, I’ll have the right word ready to go. And depending on the language, learning “no” or “without” is just as important, lest we end up with a generous extra portion of Dhalia with our samosas.