A Year Without Cilantro

A bold author seeks money and fame
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For one year, I pledge to give up cilantro, which I never really liked anyway.  Would you like to be one of my sponsors? I want to feel a deep resounding change in my life (ie. get rich) and I’ve noticed that people who give up certain comforts or make dramatic lifestyle shifts get big book deals.

(This is only true in the Western world. No one in Darfur has caught onto this whole “willful deprivation” trend yet. They’re so behind.)

You know the people I’m talking about, right?  The “Year Without” elite like No Impact Man author Colin Beavan, whose New York City-based family strived to produce “zero waste” for 365 days.  (He wrote a book, made a film and started a blog and now he has an entire organization/movement with disciples!)

There’s also Judith Levine’s Not Buying It (a year without shopping for “necessities”), Sara Bongiorni’s A Year Without ‘Made In China’ (self-explanatory) and Julie & Julia, a blog, then best-selling book and finally movie with Meryl Streep (!), in which author Julie Powell spends a year without cooking anything but Julia Child recipes.  Perhaps most successful of all, Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary chronicles his attempt to go without anything but McDonald's. He only lasted 30 days because his liver was failing (wimp), but he still got his own TV show, 30 Days.

My mission won’t be easy. I’ll be forced to avoid many Thai, Indian and Mexican dishes. I’ve even seen cilantro aioli spread across a perfectly good BLTA at neighborhood farm-to-table cafés. Can you imagine how many disapproving waiters I’ll have to stare down, as I bravely demand: “Hold the cilantro... and your judgement, Sir!”

Just try to imagine an entire twelve month period without once eating certain types of guacamole. It sounds impossible, I know, but I won’t let a bunch of dry tortilla chips beat me. I’ll eat hummus, if need be.  I’m that committed.

Surely, my year sans cilantro will awaken some profound realization about the importance of love, gratitude and seasoning. Maybe I’ll fall in with a hipster cilantro-sober crowd or at least convince my husband to rebuff the herb too, bringing us closer together.  Then, I’ll write a book called, The Cilantro Experiment.  After all, the documentary crew probably won’t have caught it all.

People will read my memoir, see my film and absorb my newfound wisdom.  They’ll view my cilantro abstinence as an inspiration, a statement about embracing simplicity through restraint and holding onto what’s dear, even in the face of salsa.

And, hopefully, I’ll make a fortune.

Naturally, I’ll use my money for good.  I’ll start foundations, organize marches and even build compounds in the vein of gay-reforming camps like “The Refuge” that people can visit to get scared straight off cilantro for a nominal percentage of their income.  Everyone who is anyone will join and wear green string bracelets and ribbons to symbolize his or her solidarity.

Meanwhile, I’ll hobnob with the bigwigs of my ilk: Behind closed doors, we’ll scarf McDonald’s, prepare dishes in the microwave (not even glancing at Rachael Ray’s No Repeats: A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners cookbook!), trash talk Ashrams, shop online at Walmart, drink bottled water and even nibble on lemongrass, which—let’s be honest—is really just fancy cilantro.

And, when we’re done, I won’t do the dishes despite the potential olfactory challenge.  Because that will be the basis for my next book, Dishing It Out: How I Survived A Year Without Sponges.  (Spoiler Alert! I hired a maid.)

(Nora Zelevansky's first novel, Semi-Charmed Life, hits shelves on July 3, 2012.)

Nora Zelevansky's first novel, Semi-Charmed Life, hits shelves on July 3rd, 2012. Her nonfiction essays and features have appeared in publications like ELLE, InStyle, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times, Town & Country and many more. She is a Contributing Writer for C Magazine.
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Nora Zelevansky