So for the second installment of my ongoing series on herbs, I’m bringing out a green with worldwide acclaim. Whether you call it cilantro, coriander, or prefer not to think of it at all (more on that later), this citrusy, zesty little herb has a lot going for it.
Coriander is native to most every region that surrounds the Mediterranean and some parts of southwest Asia. And while it is nearly impossible to determine when it began to show up (either wild or cultivated), there is significant archaeological evidence that shows it was being grown by the ancient Egyptians, as well as the Greeks, who used it not only in their cuisine, but also in perfumes. It was not until around the 1670s that it was brought to North America by British settlers, and became one of the most commonly grown herbs in the colonies. The leafy bright green plants can reach up to 1 – 2 feet in height, and generally require well-drained soil and a consistent warm summer climate to thrive. It has a bright, citrusy flavor that some people liken to oranges, although I have always leaned more toward the lemony-essence school of thought. And fresh cilantro is usually best stored in the refrigerator, either in a sealed plastic bag or wrapped in a damp paper towel, and for best results should be used as soon as possible.