To me, part of the fun in gardening is discovering the history of plants, how they were used in ancient times and of course how they are regarded in current culture. Since coriander is one of the world’s most frequently-used herbs, let’s start there.
Reviled by Julia Child
Widely used in Mexican and Chinese cuisine, the fresh leaves of the coriander plant (known as cilantro in the West) seem to be something people either love or hate. Beloved chef Julia Child revealed her hatred of cilantro in 2002 on Larry King Live. When asked if there was any food she despised, Julia responded, “I can’t think of anything I hate except cilantro.” She admitted “I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”
Julia’s hatred of cilantro seems to be in conflict with her love of Mexican food (La Super Rica—a famous taco spot on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara—was a favorite haunt.) I guess there were lots of cilantro leaves on the floor at La Super Rica after a visit from Julia.
Encouraging Beneficial Insects
Cilantro flowers attract bees and ladybugs. Allowing coriander plants to go to seed will entice beneficial bugs to your garden and as a bonus you’ll always have a fresh crop of cilantro in your veggie beds.
Cilantro in the Bedroom
So, what does coriander has to do with sex and bedbugs? In the language of flowers coriander flowers symbolize lust (legend has it that all flowers have meaning-see my post on that subject for more). The seeds were used as an aphrodisiac in ancient Greece and were found in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs as far back as 5000 BC. But the weirdest fact of all is that coriander was named after a bedbug that apparently emitted the same odor! No wonder Julia Child hated the stuff.
Until next time, fill your garden with joy!