Phillipian Commentary: Stop Cilantro

When I finally picked up slices of fresh barbeque chicken pizza from the Hearth in Paresky Commons at noon one day last week, my heart was pumping with excitement, joy, and even fatigue from standing in line. But when I came closer, I noticed cilantro on the cheese—alas! Though it is “only an herb” to many, to me, cilantro delivers a pungent, sickening smell that strikes one’s nostrils with disgusting blows. The taste is even worse—it makes me sick just thinking about it. This devastating discovery, a “midday crisis” if you will, felt even worse than a midterm exam. The bothersome green spice also appeared on many other dishes, including the baked cod and the eggplant stew. Recently, I feel like Commons has been adding more cilantro to the table. Though it is not a significant allergen, cilantro should be taken away from Commons food and put aside as a condiment, for its taste is intolerable to many people all over the world—including me.

Though you may think this argument is farfetched, there may actually exist a noticeable number of students and faculty members on campus who do not like the taste of cilantro, for ethnocultural genetic differences are what cause the intolerance. A Canadian biology research group studied about 1,600 youths in Canada, and concluded that about 21 percent of Caucasians, 17 percent of East Asians, and 14 percent of Africans are intolerant to cilantro. As cilantro does not have strong, allergic-like effects, however, they might not show their unease immediately and merely gulp down the food when having their meals. But the lack of report does not mean that the problem does not exist; there are people who don’t like cilantro in real life. In fact, there is even a 6,000-people online community named “” dedicated to sharing users’ poor experiences with cilantro. Cilantro really is a widespread concern for many.
Besides, Commons has the ability to stop putting cilantro in lots of dishes. Cilantro is an herb rather than a staple food, which means that most entrées wouldn’t really be all that different if it was removed. Furthermore, many of my friends acknowledge that they do not feel a significant taste from the cilantro in the dishes. Though it is true that some sauces, like salsa, cannot be made without cilantro, students should still have the freedom to choose whether they want them or not. I think the school should set cilantro aside as a spice, giving students more flexibility to make up their own meal. Moreover, if cilantro is put away as a spice, presumably fewer students will take cilantro in their meals, saving the school some expenses too.

I admit that the school has been acting deliberately on allergens for a long time, and I appreciate the many efforts, such as using paper cups for sauces and substituting peanut butter with sunflower seed butter. I believe, however, that more people may appreciate removing cilantro out of daily Commons dishes completely. Thus, the school should act effectively on behalf of the students. In the end, it’s not just about cilantro; it’s about the spirit of giving students choice and freedom, which is crucial for both our school’s development, and our own development as students.