So I said to the guy at the CSA pickup, “Got any cilantro?” and he says, “try this, papalo, it’s sort of like cilantro.” At least I think he said papalo. I wasn’t taking notes, and I should know by now always to take notes if I want to remember anything. He might have said pipicha. Whatever it was, it definitely started with a P, as in potent.
(That’s one of the cool things about Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance; even after a dozen years, they still offer things I haven’t tried before. This P herb was one of them.)
So I took the pretty little herb, with its velvety soft, scalloped leaves. The moment I broke off a couple of leaves to snip over some tomatoes, its powerful smell hit the olfactory. Curious, I thought. Then I ate my tomatoes. Whoa, this is definitely not cilantro. Yes, it has a hint of cilantro’s citrusy flavor, but it also has a penetrating taste that’s as pungent as its aroma, which is to say it overpowered the tomatoes. I tried it in a pasta dish that had lots of onions, and it overpowered the taste there, too, despite the fact I used only one leaf.
It took a little hunting, but I finally found the little herb online. The Cook’s Thesaurus clearly labels it pipicha. The Homesick Texan, however, says its papalo. Brooklynometry says pipicha. I was ready to go with the Texan since she comes from source, more or less, but finally The Gardeners Pantry pointed me to a page at Garden Mosaics, a a program of Cornell University, which is noted for its agricultural and horticultural programs. (Garden Mosaics, incidentally, looks to be a very cool program.) Garden Mosaics says it’s papalo, so I do, too.
Anybody out there use this stuff? I love cilantro, but, whew, papalo is going to take some getting used to!