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What’s the Difference Between Coriander and Cilantro?

Many home cooks and kitchen novices often reach a point where they scratch their head and wonder what the difference between coriander and cilantro is. A very large number of people seem to think that they are a completely different plant or herb, however, this is not the case at all. Cilantro and coriander, both officially known as the Coriandrum Sativum species, are exactly the same plant and species, however, there is a regional difference in how the various plant parts are named.


The International Standard

Outside of the North American continent, the international standard is that coriander is the name given to the leaves and stalks of the Coriandrum Sativum plant. The other commonly used coriander derivative, the dried seeds, are also referred to as coriander outside of North America. In other words, the word cilantro is not used outside of North America to define anything involving the coriander plant, regardless of how it is processed or prepared.

North America

The North American region of the world is the only place that uses the word cilantro. The root origin of the word “Cilantro” is Spanish, a name given by early Spaniards to the coriander leaves. North Americans do not refer to the coriander stalk or dried seeds as cilantro, rather, they refer to it as coriander. Referring to “cilantro leaves” as “coriander” in places like Mexico or the US might cause confusion.

The Reasons For The Distinction

The difference between coriander and cilantro boils down to how they are used in language and nothing more. Linguists and other language experts believe that there is a reason behind the distinction. Mexican cuisine uses fresh coriander leaves within recipes much more than any other region on the planet. With that fact considered it makes much more sense that there would be such a stark linguistic distinction between different parts of the plant.

The International Linguistic Rules Are Changing

Over the last decade, linguists have noticed that the word “cilantro” is being used much more frequently outside of North America. International language speakers are finding that it is much more convenient and logical to use a different word to mark the distinction between the very different parts of the coriander plant.

Read more about the Spice Station here!
Spice Station's Tourtiere Blend

Tourtiere Spice Blend, a holiday delight.

Tourtière is the classic holiday meat pie of Canada’s Québécois people.

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Exotic, purple-black Urfa pepper

Purple-black Urfa Biber is an unforgettable Turkish spice.

A funny name, a rich purple color, a choco-raisin-spice aroma, and a mouthwatering fruity, peppery flavor. This unforgettable exotic spice is something to get excited about. Read the rest of this entry »

Did you buy winter spices for holiday baking, eggnog, mulling, ciders et al and now you’re wondering what shall become of those jars that are 9/10ths full?  Spice Station to the rescue!  Nutmeg likes anything with cream so potatoes au gratin anyone?  We will eat anything with potatoes, heavy cream and cheese but throw a layer of dried porcini mushrooms into this dish and we’ll be at your door before you can shake a lamb shank. (Which, does nicely with onion and garlic sauteed with a dash of nutmeg and garam masala.)  Combined with butter, flour and a bay leaf, you’ll have a classic bechamel for a baked pasta dish.  Really, anything with cream can usually do with a bit of nutmeg.

Allspice also goes great with lamb and Caribbean jerk dishes.  As you know, cinnamon is very friendly with the apple and apple is great with pork dishes.  Try roasting a pork loin in some apple juice and halved red apples sprinkled with cinnamon.  (If you wrap that puppy in bacon you’ll really be rolling.)  As far as cloves go, they are a must-have in a glazed ham (with brown sugar, honey and a dash of dry mustard) but those decorative pomanders (clove-studded oranges) aren’t just for the holidays — they make great sachets for drawers and cupboards all year round.  Be careful around clothing though as clove is derived from the Latin word  ‘Clavus’ which means ‘nail’.’ If you find people sniffing at you, well, take it as a compliment.  If they look like they might take a bite out of you consider making a run for it.