Fabio Viviani, incontrovertibly the most charming of Top Chef contestants, ever, hates cilantro.
He doesn’t just casually hate it–as if that were possible–he really loathes the stuff: His secret dream is to “be filthy rich, grow 20 acre of cilantro, and drop a bomb on it.” He kids. I asked Fabio how hating cilantro has affected his life, he laughs in characteristic Fabio manner and says it hasn’t affected his life of course but then admits “People are having fun with me when I say I hate cilantro… [It’s] something fun.”
Hating cilantro is so fun that he has banned the herb in his restaurant Cafe Firenze (though he is sure the Latino cooks (cilantro is popular in Mexican, Central and South American cuisine) prepare family meal with it in his absence as he finds it in the walk-in when he returns from a short vacation). Hating cilantro is so fun that he refused to help co-competitor and European compatriot Stefan Richter prepare his (losing) dish of salads and meat for the “Super Bowl Chef Showdown” episode. Come to think of it, not helping Stefan cook does sound sort of fun.
Fabio feels like he’s the only member of a club. “No way” I assured him. Please read the Wall Street Journal or check out IHateCilantro.com or Facebook or anything–you aren’t alone! He feels the herb tastes like soap, and there is a lot of support out there for that opinion.
I’m not the only one who has noticed that cilantro is everywhere. Fabio agrees and is not happy about its growing prevalence. While would-be fancy chefs find cilantro sophisticated, new and exciting–Fabio says it just wouldn’t happen in Italy: “It’s outlawed in Italy,” he jokes.
Once he and his (Italian) mother prepared meatballs and accidentally purchased cilantro (in the U.S.) instead of parsley–they look similar. Neither noticed the mistake until they tried them–they were both repulsed.
Erin: Does your mother not like cilantro either?
Fabio: No, she’s Italian.
While I have often argued that cilantro has no place anywhere, it certainly has no place in Italian cuisine: cilantro in pasta sauce? Please. I can imagine those meatballs must have been very terrible indeed.
Some people think we cilantro haters are just a winy group of crazies, or that we must just hate everything. Fabio admits he isn’t crazy about artificial cherry flavor, (clearly a man of good taste) but quickly goes for typically less-desired foods like rooster neck or bull’s testicles. Not a finicky eater, just a man who knows what he likes, and what he really fucking hates. (Fabio likes to use the word “fuck” by the way–this cilantro hater approves–am I gushing, how embarrassing. I’ll admit the company is nice).
So, what’s next for Fabio (he was robbed and told to “pack his knives and go” last week)? He’s cooking me an 8 course cilantro tasting menu at his restaurant Cafe Firenze, of course.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Uncategorized on 02/13/2009|
6 Comments »
While I’ve often entertained the idea of a small, esoteric, and elite fanbase, (for cilantro hate propaganda and other literary works) I haven’t known how it would feel to taste a glimpse of recognition for the first time on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Of course, that is until now.
If you’re reading this you either hate cilantro and found me on google search, are one of my 25 or so loyal reading friends, or more likely read the piece in the Wall Street Journal today, which so generously did not contain a link to my blog. Thanks guys. Well, can’t complain too much. So nice it is to be recognized and pencil-fied!
I’ll keep this post short, but if you haven’t read the WSJ article do–it’s an interesting look at the amazing and surprisingly diverse community that has developed on the web around hating cilantro. As always, I’m honored and compelled to be a part of this community, indeed to be the self-proclaimed expert on cilantro hate and more importantly, cilantro hate introspection and sociology, if you will. If this is your first time here, I would suggest using this blog as an apt diversion from anything you’d like to be diverted form, mainly work I imagine.
As for the 15 minutes, it’s as awesome as cilantro is not…
Read Full Post »
To mention you hate cilantro in mixed company, which is to say any company really, is to immediately incur the fierce judgment and opposition of many.
When you say you hate cilantro–you might as well say you hate the Virgin Mary herself–it is that offensive to those that love, or even those that kind of like.
I recently had this experience on an conference call:
Me: “Oh, you have a window box garden. That’s tremendous. Tell me, what in it grows sir?”
Me: “Gross. Nothing else?”
Sir: “No, just cilantro, it’s a limited garden as yet.”
Conference Call Chorus: “I love cilantro.” “Me too. Who hates cilantro?” “It’s so refreshing.” “Yeah. It’s one of my favorite herbs.” “Exactly. It’s really good.” “Who doesn’t like cilantro.“
Me: “I HATE CILANTRO is who… I have a whole blog about.”
Me: “No, for real….”
I would never begrudge the masses their relishing in something (they find to be) delicious of course. What’s funny, amazing, something to love as it were, is how impassioned the cilantro lovers are. I hear what you’re saying–I too, my lot, are similarly impassioned. Perhaps. But not without irony dammit. Have you seen the I Hate Cilantro site? It is irony incarnate. Those that like are so, well, genuine! But no need to judge, I’ve said my peace about cilantro lovers in the past…we all have our crosses to bear.
What’s fun is in an otherwise ordinary meeting, or say it’s a nice brunch looking for a little culinary discourse, or say it’s a conversation with a stranger in the checkout aisle you wish you could connect with (if only to argue)–hating cilantro is immediate grounds for a kind of good-hearted outrage-turned-understanding: We feel the same way, just but it’s the opposite, or something. Anyway, it’s fun to see people get so riled up about something they probably hadn’t given a ton of (any) thought to until it was suggested someone might hate it. Many times I feel I’m the first cilantro hater people have met. Cross to bear? No, it’s my privilege and honor.
Read Full Post »