Of course, I’d have to go to the store to buy some greens and goat cheese, since I don’t have anything but Christmas cookies and pantry goods in the house. So, I go to the store and throw the requisite Earthbound Farm Organic mix in my basket, but, as I’d feared, my just-down-the-street store doesn’t have goat cheese, the official cheese of gentrification. They do, however, have that delicious ‘no bread needed to fry it’ Queso Para Freir cheese. Being flexible about these sorts of things, I’m thinking I’ll make a mixed green salad with toasted almonds and some of that fried cheese with a nice super acidic with a little bit of honey vinaigrette.
I heated some canola oil in a pan, or started to, when I lifted the pan to, I don’t know what now that I think about it, and promptly burnt my chin on contact. Ouch. I’m already thinking this was a bad idea. I should have just gone to Caravan, but, I’m rolling with the situation. The pan is definitely hot, and that’s all I needed to know, so, you know, mission accomplished. I fry the cheese, drain the cheese, bla bla. Then I throw together a quick vinaigrette (dijon, balasamic, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper) and toss it with a large handful of greens and the almonds (bought them toasted; yes I’m alright with that). It’s at this point I notice sparse pieces of what would seem to be dill (it was) and think I might be in trouble. Yeah, there are more green things in the salad that aren’t lettuce.
I go for the fridge, find the package, “Fresh Herb Salad.” Shit. I’ve bought this before, a long time ago, and seem to remember this is not a cilantro-hater’s friend, this “Fresh Herb Salad.” Indeed, there is cilantro throughout. It’s unavoidable. I can’t pick out all the pieces, especially now that it’s been tossed together, and it’s all variations of the same color — even if I wanted to extract each piece of cilantro, finding them all would be a huge chore unto itself. And, I’ve stayed home to save time and get some stuff done, not spend an hour removing cilantro from my salad.
So, I eat the salad, doing my best to avoid the cilantro pieces. I fail. The salad was terrible. I got nice almondy-cheesy bites, but what I wanted was salad with stuff in it, not stuff with salad garnish. I realized I haven’t actually eaten cilantro in awhile; I do try to avoid it. I became mesmerized, focusing intently on a single leaf. How far away could I smell it from? (not that far, maybe 6 inches) How large was each piece in the salad? (ranging from 2-square millimeters to 1-square inch) What did it taste like? (terrible, just terrible). Did I still hate it? (yes, as much, if not more, than ever).
What gets me is how ubiquitous it’s become, cilantro. There are exactly three herbs in the Earthbound Herb Salad: parsley, dill and cilantro. Parsley seems a given — most people I know like it or are indifferent to it; you can put it in anything. Dill, I have to say, is an odd choice — I love dill, but I’m pretty sure not everyone does. This is a salad mix, I would assume, meant to please the general palate (I did purchase it in a store that doesn’t sell goat cheese). Cilantro, well, there’s just no need. I’ve come to expect it in my guacamole, salsa, saag panir, etc, but not in my supermarket salad mix. Between the dill and the cilantro, I would guess Earthbound is making some enemies with this salad.
But, the joke’s on me. I need to return to checking all labels, being more mindful, asking more questions in restaurants, lest another slip-up like this occur. As cilantro is more and more absolutely everywhere, I need to up my defenses against it, otherwise cilantro will have won.