Fresh Coriander: The Spice, Not the Herb

You can write about something for decades and still be surprised to come across it “in the flesh.” This morning I spotted a sign for “fresh coriander” at the J&A Farm stand at our neighborhood Greenmarket and had to ask Jeff, the farmer: “Is that just cilantro that’s gone to seed?” And of course it was. I always think coriander is kind of a nothingburger; I dutifully use it when it’s specified in a recipe, but it never tastes like much. These fresh seeds were intense, much more like the top of the plant (the almost soapy leaves and stems) than what you buy in a jar. (Jeff suggested adding a handful to a pot of rice.) And I grew up hearing the phrase “gone to seed” as a dis and am only now, at this very advanced age, understanding it’s not always a bad thing. At least I’m smart enough to know the bananas I saw at a “local” farmstand last week were a pretty good sign nothing else on offer came from around here.

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