No one actually knows where cilantro came from, but it’s an herb with a long and storied history. History records show that it was harvested up to 5000 years ago with mentions in the bible and other religious texts. It’s been found all over the world in ancient Egyptian tombs to the Mexican pyramids to ancient Israeli’s. Old Chinese texts and European books also mention cilantro and coriander as one of the most important herbs of the time. While we don’t have a full historical timeline of cilantro and coriander, we do have several mentions of it throughout historical artifacts.
Some of them include
• References in Sanskrit writings where cilantro was mentioned for its health properties along with its ability to stimulate hunger and increase appetite.
• Seeds in Egyptian tombs with the mummies. The Egyptians believed in an afterlife and so buried their important people with the artifacts and objects they would need in their afterlife. The inclusion of coriander seeds shows just how important the herb was to them!
• In the Old Testament in Exodus chapter 16, verse 31, Cilantro gets a mention “And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”
• Of course, you may know Cilantro from Chinese and Asian cooking where it has been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Asian cultures valued cilantro for both its medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities. The pungent taste also added its signature to dishes such as Vietnamese pho noodles, fried rice and a host of other Asian dishes. The Chinese do not use herbs in cooking very often, so it’s notable that Cilantro made the list!
• In the Americas, cilantro has been growing since the early 1600s as one of the first herbs that were brought over by European travelers. It was also used by the French in the 1700s to make liquor from distilled coriander.
Based on all of this, we think that the plant originated in the middle-eastern regions of Asia and southeastern Europe. The plant then made its way to China, through to Southeast Asia where it grew in abundance (because it’s easy!).
Explorers from Spain who went to Asia then spread the herb to Mexico where it spread throughout the United States and around the world.
Here at Cilantro Taco Grill: “We have been inspired by this great herb. We decided to name our restaurant after Cilantro. We strive to continue its rich historical tradition and excellent taste; which is why we include it on our exceptional tacos.”