Pico De Gallo: The inaugural installment in my survey of salsa

Or: “Making myself feel better about getting take-out by adding one homemade element”

So Mom and Dad, I know that when we spoke on the phone today I said my next post would be about the lovely borscht I made a few weeks ago. But then I had a look at what was left in this week’s Box of Wonders and saw among other things four jalapenos, a bunch of grape tomatoes from somewhere down south, and an onion. I don’t know about you, but to me that says salsa. But what kind of salsa? I had a slide show of choices running through my head, but in the interest of time and the possibility of consumption in conjunction with the take-out I am getting tonight to eat while watching the hockey playoffs starting in twenty minutes, I went with pico de gallo. In case you don’t know exactly what pico de gallo is (which would not be uncommon: when I worked in a restaurant that served it, I explained it to at least three or four customers per shift), it is distinct from other salsas in that none of the ingredients are cooked. Its most basic incarnation is just finely chopped tomato, jalapeno, and white onion with some lime juice. You see why it sprang to mind. Most recipes include some cilantro. Some include green bell pepper, but that is really just filler, and I like my salsas the way I like my crab cakes: with as little filler as possible!
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A Word on Cilantro

*Or, “I Hate Cilantro”

Hold on while I get my soapbox out of the pantry and drag it to the middle of my kitchen. Okay, all set: I hate cilantro. I’m one of those people. You either love it or you hate it; there is no halfway. The divide is so stark that there have been studies done to see if there is a genetic root of the preference. People who hate it very often say it tastes like soap. Or dirt. Or old gym socks. I don’t think cilantro tastes like any of those things. It has a fresh, herby taste. A terrible fresh herby taste that destroys everything it comes into contact with. It is the Rogue X-(wo)Man of the culinary world, killing everything it touches. When I am tucking into a nice Indian dish and taste a hint of cilantro, I actually get a little choked up as I realize my curry has been tainted. The choking is both figurative as I instantly grieve for my prospective meal, and literal as my throat actually tries to reject the cilantro taste. Continue reading