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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

10 Reasons To Love Hating Cilantro, Number 7: The Lying

I'm not much of a liar.

There's an obvious potential paradox here that I won't even insult you explaining, but choose to believe me or not, I'm actually a pretty honest person. This is for a variety of reasons most notably: I'm bad at lying, My long-term memory is better than my short term memory and I would have a hard time keeping my facts straight (in other words, I'm bad at lying) and I, to be honest, have this strange sense of what one might call integrity wrapped around this virtue, if you will, of telling the truth. Telling the truth is better than not, most of the time, and I leave it to men smarter and men dumber than me to decide when those times might be.

Except with this whole "I'm allergic to cilantro" businesss, which WSJ quoted me on and has been the source of much discussion since. Commenters have written that they are worried I've exposed the lie as such and restaurateurs and cocktail hour hosts across the world will no longer take the allergy proclamation seriously. Another commenter worries that the "crying wolf" waters down the very serious allergies of people like her daughter--restaurants no longer take allergies seriously, everyone's got an "allergy," these days.

To be fair, I've always had a somewhat unfounded attitude towards allergies, with the exception of peanuts (though I resent people with peanut allergies because it means I can't eat them on planes anymore), thinking they're largely the result of 1) too worrisome parents who don't feed their kids anything potentially allergy-causing and hence end up with kids "allergic" to everything 2) nature telling us we shouldn't be eating these things we're "allergic" too (lactose intolerant, please, eating milk from another species (and after early childhood) is unprecedented in the animal kingdom and just straight weird--yes I eat milk products) 3) a general hypochondria that has swept the nation. But, while these opinions aren't going anywhere soon, in all seriousness, of course if a child, especially, has a physical reaction when eating a food, I don't want to stand in the way, in any way, of them not eating that food.

But, I don't see that happening. I worked in a bunch of restaurants and I can tell you chefs take allergies seriously, especially real ones like peanut allergies, and while they find it HOPELESSLY ANNOYING, they don't want to get sued or lose business, so they comply. They've gotten so used to allergies, that they are actually more prepared and skilled at dealing with them. Separate areas for peanuts, separate pans for garlic or meat or vegetables. Do they sneak a little butter into risotto they call vegan? I've seen it done. And why? Because they find vegans annoying and their cause not sympathetic whereas they find people with allergies equally annoying, but a potential lawsuit--they would also have proof of the infraction in theory where the vegan wouldn't. (I'm speaking in general from my experience here, but I think I'm right). So there you go, the person with the allergy gets what they want and the person with a distaste doesn't, at least not relaibly.

So then the question becomes, do I, a paying customer deserve to get what I want? Yes. I think so. I treat "the help" politely and when I've explained I don't like, even hate cilantro, it finds a way onto the plate. Those of you who have watched a certain amount of Sex and the City know that the Carrie Bradshaw character does not like parsley and uses the same lying technique to avoid getting parsley in her food. This of course annoys Berger to no end and is probably the beginning of the end of their relationship, but I digress. I get what I want when I lie. It carries that I could do this in other arenas of my life, (get what I want by lying) but one must sacrifice one's integrity with calculation and consideration for mankind.

I would argue that the rampant allergic-ness of America has in fact made it easier to have an allergy in America (described above) and that while this makes things more difficult and annoying for chefs, it makes things better for diners, in other words for the demand to the restaurant's supply, and those with allergies have nothing to fear from liars like me, and cilantro haters calling themselves allergic similarly have nothing to fear because the chef is obliged to take the allergy seriously. But cilantro haters out there, if your hate is as real, as tangible, as undeniable as mine, it is as serious an unpleasantry as most not-serious allergies (which is to say most allergies) and if lying means I can enjoy a meal, one man's hives is another man's ruined palate and dining experience, let's leave it at that.

And lying's kind of fun too.

4 comments:

Margaret said...

I am stunned by the homophonic error in this otherwise excellent post: "This of course annoys Berger to know end". I used to be allergic to meat when ordering my egg and cheese sandwiches. Now I eat (and enjoy) meat. The allergy, it seems, has subsided.

Erin Hollingsworth said...

it took me five minutes to figure out the error. sad but true. thx margaret!

Rachel said...

Erin,
I'd like you to know there's another cilantro-liar out there..me. I've read the fine print describing the menu items, I've asked the wait staff if there is, in any form, liquid, seed or leaf of cilantro in a dish, been told "of course not," and then found myself spitting it out in a napkin, tainted. If people are annoyed that I lie about an allergy, they'll be even more annoyed that I'm sending a huge plate of food back to the kitchen untouched, to be wasted and remade. Sans cilantro. People do take you seriously if you have an allergy, and they don't care if you simply "dislike" it. Be strong girl! Others have no idea that cilantro is our kryptonite.

Efeffess said...

Strange. I've seen so many articles from supposedly technical people that have homonymical issues that "know" and "no" have become second nature. Heh.

I don't understand what the issue is for restaurants. A dining experience is supposed to be enjoyable - that's what you're paying for. If I didn't like cilantro, I wouldn't lie about it until not lying didn't work. So, I guess I don't blame you in the long run.

Then again, I've been described as a human garbage disposal. So there you are. :>