Coriander, cilantro, pakchee, or whatever you want to call it, there’s a whole bunch in this new version of the popular instant fried noodles.
“I thought I knew you,” she said, lips quivering with fear and anger, “I thought I loved you! But you’re not the man you pretended to be…. I don’t know what you are anymore.” And with that, she put on her coat and walked out the door, never to return.
Perhaps I should start from the beginning…
I was preparing a special meal for my fiancée to celebrate the booking of our wedding venue. It was a pasta dish that I had painstakingly crafted to make sure every subtle flavor was perfect for this woman whom I loved so much that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
So I was naturally pleased when she ate a mouthful and smiled in culinary delight at my combination of herbs and spices. She exclaimed, “Oh, this is so aromatic! What did you put in this?”
With a hint of restrained boastfulness I replied, “Oh that? That must be the cilantro I used.”
However, suddenly all the joy drained from her face. He eyes began to search me with a steely coldness as if accusing me of some crime as she carefully asked, “What did you say?”
“Cilantro,” I answered quizzically.
“I never heard of that,” she shot back, “is it some kind of foreign food?”
“No, it’s just regular cilantro. Here, look,” I said handing her a tiny bouquet of the remaining leaves.
“This? This is coriander,” she said sternly.
“No, coriander is made from the seeds. The leaves are cilan-”
“Stop! Stop saying that! That is not even a word!!!”
She began sobbing at this point and explained that with this newly discovered language barrier, there would be no way we could ever communicate properly as husband and wife. She added, “what kind of world would we be bringing our children into? Not knowing the difference between coriander and cila…whatever the hell you said.”
“It’s easy. One’s the leaf and…”
“Shut up! Oh god…just stop mumbling nonsense. I can’t take it anymore.”
And so, she walked out of my life forever. I was heartbroken, but at the same time I respected how she stuck to her convictions. After all, that was what I’d loved about her in the first place. But with this huge difference in our belief systems there was little I could do but let her go.
Months passed and I had completely lost the will to cook anymore. My daily diet consisted solely of instant yakisoba. One day when I plunked my carton of Peyoung on the convenience store counter, the clerk mentioned that a new flavor would be released on 19 December called Peyoung Pakchee Max.
I stared blankly at the clerk not knowing what “pakchee” was. Sensing my confusion he gestured to a picture of the new package. Printed all over was that cursed leaf that had cast away the love of my life so long ago at that ill-fated dinner.
However, rather than feeling anger or regret, I was filled with a new sense of hope.
“I think it’s from Thailand or som…” the clerk was about to say when I interrupted him with a firm grasp of his shoulder and a wide smile of appreciation for this most welcome news.
I knew then and there what had to be done. Our relationship was always destined to be neither one based on “cilantro” nor “coriander.” Ours was an entirely new life that would be built on the solid foundation of hearty amounts of “pakchee” as found in these new instant noodle dishes!
I marked the 19th on my calendar and set aside 185 yen (US$1.60) to purchase a Peyoung Pakchee Max as soon as it was available. There was a chance I would be too late, but I had to try.