Why Do Celebrity Chefs Insist on Desecrating Their Dishes with Cilantro?

Like 95% of the human population, I detest cilantro. For those of you who are lucky enough to have never tasted it and are curious it is akin to eating paper thin slices of a cheap bar of soup; not the creamy, aromatic ones like Dove or Ivory, nor the cheaper private label brands of the major grocery stores, but the cheapest soap in the lowest end stores in the worst part of town. Yet for some reason some of my favourite celebrity chefs insist on using it.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been watching a cooking show on TV or a video recipe on the Internet and witnessed the chef prepare one of the most mouth-watering dishes imaginable only to at the very end hear those dreaded words, “and then I like to garnish it with some fresh cilantro”. Even Chef John from Foodwishes.com, the greatest of all celebrity chefs, insists on tossing Satan’s herb over some his best creations.

This isn’t a case of someone who dislikes strong tasting herbs. I’ve got sage and rosemary plants growing next to my house and use them all the time. I’m not a fan of mint but I realize that many people love it, particularly when it is thrown in with some white rum, but I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered a regular person who truly enjoys the taste of cilantro. It is awful. The only reason it is sold in grocery stores at all is because of all the home cooks trying out the recipes from their favourite celebrity chefs.

If all celebrity chefs banned together and agreed to stop including cilantro in their recipes the herb would be virtually eradicated from the planet within three years. It would be like Polio; only existing in some of the most remote mountain regions of Pakistan. By contrast, if every chef in the world took up an active campaign against oregano it would not have even a slight impact on production. The reason of course is that oregano tastes fantastic. The smell of oregano in the kitchen just makes you hungry and eager to cook and eat. Seeing cilantro on the counter of the friend who invited you over to dinner gives much the same feeling as seeing a moose darting in front your car on the ride over.

A truly good herb isn’t used as a garnish; it is used as an ingredient in the cooking process. You don’t throw a handful of oregano over your pizza, you add it to the sauce so it can spread around its flavour. Have you ever heard of anyone garnishing their dish with a pinch of fresh rosemary? Of course not. The only dish that cilantro is commonly used during the cooking process is salsa where you have enough jalapeño to blunt the herb’s sharp edges.

Cilantro is a fraud. It seems so popular but truth be told everyone hates it and its prominence is owed entirely to the chefs who promote it on the Internet and TV. If cilantro was a person its last name would be Kardashian-Hilton. If there was no food media, there would be no cilantro.

Does Anyone Eat Liver Anymore?

One of the most vivid memories of my early childhood was getting my first and last horrifying taste of liver. I remember how slimy and revolting it looked coming out of the package, and the stench it gave off as it was being cooked. I knew I wouldn’t like it, but my father told me I couldn’t know I didn’t like something without having tried it. The only positive I took from the experience is that I now know that I have the ability to know I won’t like something even though I have never tried it.

When I was a kid it seemed like there was always someone around me eating liver. That was back when people only ate about 12 different things in their entire lives, and now that the nose to tail fad is in full swing and people are seemingly willing to try anything, nobody wants anything to do with liver. You can grab a dozen cookbooks from your local bookstore and not find a single reference to liver. Anthony Bourdain eats insects and intestines, but I don’t think there is any evidence of him trying liver.

I have travelled to many countries, and though I am not that adventurous and eater, I have tried my share of different foods, and though I’ve tasted many things I didn’t like (octopus tastes like eating a thick rubber band), nothing has ever come close to the revolting taste of liver. I’m not just limiting this to foods; I am counting everything I have ever tasted in my life, including dirt, salt water, my own blood, and soap. I can’t imagine anything that could taste as horrible as liver, except perhaps some actual poisons.

I have no idea why previous generations choose to eat liver. In Newfoundland, where I am from, all kinds of nice tasting seafood was always more widely available than cow liver. There has never been a person in Newfoundland who ever had to choose between eating liver and starving to death. I suspect that is the same in most parts of the world. Yet people still chose to fry themselves up a pile of slimy liver.

It is a sign of societal progress that hardly any of eat an organ whose function is to filter toxic garbage out of cows’ blood. I suspect though that when liver is on the verge of disappearing altogether from grocery stores that some group of pretentious foodies will try to turn it into the latest culinary fad. Though I am glad that liver is disappearing from shelves and dinner tables, I must confess that I would get some satisfaction at seeing a pretentious hipster foodie forcing his or herself to eat liver and pretending to like it.