Cilantro, KULANTRO

The author of five best-selling diet books, the Mexican chef Jorge Cruise, said:

I believe in the magic of preparation.
You can make just about any foods 

taste wonderful by adding herbs and spices.  
Experiment with garlic, CILANTRO,
basil and other fresh herbs on vegetables

to make them taste great.

Indeed, cilantro is one of my go-to herbs; it is readily available in my corner of the world, northern California, and it blends famously with many dishes that I like.
My side dish on the day I wrote this blog: the sweetness of sliced mangoes counterpointed by a smidgen of fish sauce, enriched by tomatoes, and enhanced with chopped cilantro.  YUM!
Cilantro is an herb otherwise known as coriander.  It is native to areas of southern Europe, northern Africa, and southwestern Asia.  
Europe and Eurasia
Can you point to the regions where coriander might have grown in antiquity?


The origin of the English name coriander is this:  ancient Greek koriannon -> Latin coriandrum ->  Old French coriandre.

In the Indian sub-continent, its names are dhane (Bengali), dhana (Gujarati), dhaanyakam (Hindi), dhania (Punjabi), dhanyaa (Urdu), etc.  Why this is, I have yet to find out; please stay tuned!

Coriander has long been used as a food item (seeds as a spice; leaves and stems as an herb).  In addition to use in salads and uncooked sauces, and for seasoning entrees, it was used in pickling, sausage-making, flavoring wines, AND in perfumery.

The leaves are commonly called cilantro, while the seeds are referred to as coriander.  The leaves have a distinctive scent, with lemon undertones; some people detect a “bedbug smell” and other say it tastes “soapy.”  Some cuisines also use the roots for preparations.

After ordering Kal-bi at a Korean restaurant in Concord, CA,
I received several appetizers which included boiled coriander roots
seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Because store-bought cilantro has such a short shelf life (the leaves easily decay after being separated from the plant) I will plant my own crop this summer.  Hopefully, i will get to enjoy the pleasure of plucking just a few stems every time I need the seasoning.
Folks who live in hot climates are generally unfamiliar with cilantro; however, they find KULANTRO in the markets.  It tastes and smells like cilantro, but it looks more like chervil, I think.  The Chinese yan-sui has morphed into wansuy in Philippine markets. Chinese parsley is another term for it.

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