Friday, October 28, 2011

Cilantro Hate

Today's edition was inspired by a rare dinner out for our family.  We successfully completed the challenge known as the professional family portrait and found we had time to eat and no plan. We decided to check out Costa Vida - a new to our area chain restaurant of "healthy" "Mexican" food.  We attempted to go a few weeks ago but it was a Sunday and they weren't open. (I get the reason why, but it sure does seem like a risky business model for a restaurant!)  We had heard some good things about the food and the website makes it seem like a place we would like. One of our favorite quick stops for food in Bend when we lived there was Longboard Louie's which appeared to be similar in menu/decor/price.

Quick review is that the prices were similar, but LL's food was a little bit better and larger servings. Plus, there were more choices on the menu. But Costa Vida's restaurant space is nice.  It seems like the staff is still working out the kinks as far as moving orders along, but I think that will come with time.

Anyway, the big bummer for me, which led to this post, (yes, I am finally getting around to it!) is that at least half of their menu calls for the use of cilantro in a "hard to get around" way.  Their rice, which is used in their burritos, salads and as a side on all plates, is lime cilantro rice. The problem is: I'm a cilantro hater.

***warpy tv screen to show we are travelling back in my memory, inserted here***

A long, long time ago in 2006, I did not realize I hate cilantro. How can it be that I didn't realize I had a pure hatred until I was almost 30 years old? My only excuse is that I have a sensitive stomach and tend to steer away from spice and seasoning in general. Anyway, 2006, I'm  pregnant with Big Girl. And I'm STARVING. And I'm driving home from work. And there is Baja Fresh. "Ah! That looks healthy and filling. I will drive through there."

I don't remember what I ordered. It might as well have been called "Tortilla filled with cilantro". I went home and ate whatever it was and proceeded to be sick as a dog until the next morning.  Suspicious of fast food, I figured I'd been poisoned. (Who doesn't always assume they've been poisoned when they are pregnant and have a weird reaction to food? Right?) I didn't think much else about it. But then, months later, we went out somewhere else and I got a rice bowl filled with all sorts of non-Mexican stuff, but there was the taste again! The one that made me sick! I sleuthed, because I'm a good sleuther. CILANTRO!

***time warp returning to present day***

To this day, I have not voluntarily consumed cilantro a single time.  I go without guacamole and pico de gallo if we eat Mexican food. I seek out non-cilantro menu items with incredible focus and accuracy.

A few weeks back I read an article about why some people cannot stand the taste of cilantro while others love it. It clarified so much for me - why I literally gag when I try to eat cilantro, why I think eating anything with even the smallest amount of cilantro tastes like soap...

Apparently I'm a "supersmeller". I think I might make myself a t-shirt."Supertasters" have their own t-shirts, I want one for my super power too!

(If you don't believe me about the whole cilantro supersmeller thing, here's another article. Because you know, if it is reported twice on the internet, it must be true.)

I was talking to a new friend and for some reason we started talking about how I hate cilantro. (I'm not really sure why cilantro-hate became a relevant topic in conversation between two people who just met...?)  And she mentioned she likes cilantro but has a friend who thinks it tastes soapy. Honestly, my world was blown. Between the article and the friend-of-a-friend who feels the same way, I came to realize other people are with me in the cilantro hater club. (I have since found a blog called "I Hate Cilantro" that I can totally related to. No, cilantro was not part of my wedding vows, but otherwise I'm with her.)

So, last night, what to do. I was hungry and would have loved a burrito, but those were out. I ended up with two grilled shrimp tacos without pico di gallo, praying that there was no cilantro in the cabbage mixture that was inside with the shrimp. I passed on the side of cilantro rice. The kind food assembler guy offered me a double portion of beans, but that would have been approximately 2 cups of beans which I thought was a little scandalous.  I chowed down on my (cilantro free) tacos. Little Man, of course, refused to eat most of his dinner, so when Eric took him to the bathroom, I perused his plate.

The rice looked really good. I thought to myself, "I'm still hungry... And there really is only a tiny bit of cilantro in there... and I haven't tried anything with cilantro in about 5 years, so maybe now that I'm not pregnant or just being done with pregnancy things will work out better?"

I took about 1/3 of a bite with my fork and took a bite!! 

Guess what happened?? 

Tasted like SOAP!!! And then I started gagging. And then Big Girl looked at me like I was insane. 

So, my hatred will live on for another day. I'm sort of sad about the Costa Vida situation though, because I would like to go back and have a salad. Maybe I will go again and see if they make a cilantro free version of their rice. (Kind of doubt it based on the confusion we caused by asking if Eric could have shrimp on his burrito even though it wasn't on the menu.) 


  1. Bummer. I like Costa Vida salads. I love cilantro, but have had some that tasted like soap, it's true.

  2. They did give me my shrimp burrito. It didn't hold a candle to Longboard Louie's. Sorry. About cilantro I have no opinion.