In its infancy, the internet was heralded as a revolutionary way for people to connect, bridging previously insurmountable limitations like physical distance and class privilege to unite everyone in egalitarian cyberspace. That dream turned out not to be true, with the internet serving mostly as a way for people to shout into its echoing chambers of trolling and vitriol. Avoiding the actually devastating and disheartening examples of these instances, we bring you instead updated information in the ongoing cilantro/coriander wars being waged by the people who hate the herb so much they take to Facebook and Twitter to expound their revulsion with like-minded haters.
Known as coriander in the U.K., the I Hate Coriander Facebook page is full of photos seeing the offending herb receiving the middle finger. (The cilantro itself never seems to mind, likely secure enough in itself to laugh off whenever it gets flipped the bird.) Joining their British brethren is the U.S. Facebook page Cilantro Is The Worst Flavor Ever, where Americans go to share horror stories of restaurants that dare use the “weed” and demand that it be eradicated from the Earth by any means necessary.
The A.C.C.—the “Anti-Cilantro Coalition”—is a Facebook page with the mission of “helping rid the world of this vile herb one plant at a time.” Another Facebook page, Cilantro: Kill It With Fire, explains it all in the name. The all-caps I HATE CILANTRO page describes itself with a germane “BLEEEEEHHHHH.”
Sadly, this vitriol extends to a pro-cilantro Facebook page, already a minority in the online wars and apparently being infiltrated by the haters. The Cilantro page—with the handle WeLoveCilantro—has the sad update from two years ago imploring to keep the page positive and support cilantro.
Over on Twitter, a lack of signifiant followers doesn’t stop Cilantro Sucks and Fuck Cilantro, Get $ from screaming about cilantro into the Twitter abyss. The most celebrated tweet might be the one from Kim Kardashian:
While cilantro laypeople like Kim Kardashian are entitled to their opinions, some of us have grown up in families whose whole business is spices and herbs. My grandmother started a spice shop in the late ’60s with my grandfather. She has never liked cilantro and keeps her opinion brief and with signature Grandma colorfulness: “Everyone claims cilantro has such a nice fresh clean scent and taste. So if you’re partial to enjoying freshly laundered clothes, freshly washed hands, or freshly bleached white towels for lunch, you will love cilantro.”
My mother, who not only continues the family business but also grew up among spices and herbs, has a lot of nuanced thoughts about cilantro, which I present as it came to me in text-message form:
1. People who don’t like cilantro try to claim a palate superiority which is eye-rollingly ludicrous—“I’m a super taster so of course I don’t like cilantro”—Oh, you do? *Shakes head condescendingly.*
2. People who don’t like cilantro, conversely, are not big babies who can’t handle strong flavors and only eat chicken strips and hate authentic food. It’s nothing to do with that.
3. Cooking-wise: Many people who think they have the cilantro-hating gene have just never had it appropriately used. I fall into that category. When cilantro first became a thing here [in the U.S.], “chefs” would do things like throw a giant handful on a white cheese no sauce pizza. Voila! So good, right? No, terrrrible.
Once I started seeing/eating it correctly, in and amongst a bunch of strong and spicy flavors, you see it provides a bridge between the acidic and the blunt (tomato and cumin in salsa) or the hot and the sweet (peppers/spice and chicken/veg in curry). Then I learned to love it.
An NPR story confirms my mom’s super taster stance—condolences to all who thought they were special because they hate cilantro. As for me? You know how “too much of a good thing” makes something bad? I had the opposite experience with cilantro. Like my grandmother, I never liked it. But after college I worked in a restaurant for a year, where I finely chopped fresh cilantro every day until I no longer disliked it. In fact, I barely smell or taste it at all these days. Like the fading memory of an early boyfriend whose strong associated emotions have dulled to nothingness over the expanse of time, cilantro barely registers as much of a flavor at all anymore. Exposure can dull even the most ardent distaste.