A Lesson on People: Herb and Warfare

When I decided to start writing on a regular basis, I thought it would help teach me a little about my self. There is nothing like being confronted with your own words from time to time, as any politician can appreciate. I also thought the conversations it might spark would teach me a little about other people. As of 8AM Sunday morning, I can declare success in that department.

That is when my home phone rang. On the line was a very sincere sounding women thanking me for my editorial. It seems the piece I posted here as “An Open Letter to Mr. Bill Nash” had been picked up by the VC Star on the op-ed page. She was very glad that someone took Bill Nash to task for his column. I accepted her thanks, but pointed out that neither his piece nor mine was entirely serious. “Oh, I know” she continued, but “I don’t know what makes him think he can say things like that. People like him are destroying America.” By this point I was really back on my heels. I had been mentally prepared that some people might miss the joke and think me a humorless sourpuss who was being unfair to a hard-working writer. I didn’t imagine that anyone would take it seriously AND agree with my purported point of view. If not taken as satire, my piece could only have come from a very angry and unstable mind. Nonetheless, I got one Sunday morning “Amen”. Not sure where to go with the call, I tried to find a gracious but prompt exit.

As I walked among my trees checking the sprinklers later that morning, the incident gave me a lot to think about. I guess there is an audience for every kind of crazy out there. I thought I was spoofing the extreme language and remedies that we seem all too ready to embrace these days, only to find a disciple. Thankfully, I just recieved the one call, so for now it doesn’t seem like I’ve started a movement.

To sum up: (CAUTION: NO SARCASM OR IRONY INTENDED IN THIS PARAGRAPH)

Bill Nash seems like a great guy who just happens to not like cilantro (unfortunate) and believes it is overused (he may be right.) These are the serious points of his column, and everything else in it was at least partiually in jest. I do like cilantro, and am willing to give Bill 5 pounds of avocados. These are the only facts in my letter. He is not heading us to a cilantro civil war. I don’t think chefs are “notoriously irresponsible.” OK, maybe my assertion that cilantro and avocado have both benefited from California cuisine is true. But in general, this was a work of fiction.

(RESUMING NORMAL SENSE OF SATIRE)

So, my brothers and sisters in herbal arms… the battle is over, the war is won! Let us resume the eating of our pungent leafy herb in peace and good will to all, and malice toward none. Excepting of course, godless parsley growers… but that’s just common sense.

An Open Letter to Mr. Bill Nash

I was alarmed to see that the Star would print such a blatantly inflammatory piece as Bill Nash’s call for an anti-cilantro jihad(“Request to chefs: Hold the cilantro – far from his plate” Ventura County Star 5/20/09). As he notes in his article, cilantro is a significant cash crop in Ventura County. The farmers who grow this tasty herb are, for the most part, perfectly responsible American citizens, just like you and me. To blame a whole industry for the culinary excesses of a few bad actors (chefs are notoriously provocative and irresponsible), seems like the kind of polarization that could truly tear this community apart. Please, let us not give into Mr. Nash’s name-calling and innuendo… surely this is the path to civil war.
To lay my cards on the table, I am a farmer. But lest I be accused of being in the pocket of “Big Cilantro”, I should note that my primary crop is the very fruit that Mr. Nash claims to prize above all: the noble avocado. I guess this is why this issue hurts my soul so badly. Surely, he must realize that it has been the same fusion cuisine movement that made cilantro omnipresent that has made avocados a household staple. So while I am not a cilantro partisan (although I do partake in moderation), I can’t allow him to denigrate the responsible use of this perfectly legal herb in particular and California cuisine in general. Indeed, doesn’t his dangerously extreme position threaten not just the Avocado, but our entire American way of life?
To avert catastrophe, I am electing to be the larger person, and reach out to Mr. Nash. Sir, you may consider this letter a coupon redeemable for 5 pounds of avocado from my ranch, provided they are in season. Enjoy them in good health. All I will ask is that we hear no more of this divisive talk of conflict between our fine American fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Chris Sayer

Avocado Farmer and Recreational Cilantro User