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Cilantro is a member of the carrot family. It is sometimes called Coriander or Chinese Parsley. Cilantro is the leaves and stems of the coriander plant. Ground coriander seeds are the spice commonly called coriander.
In many cultures, cilantro/coriander is regarded as an aphrodisiac and, if consumed in large quantities, it acts as a narcotic. Its crushed seeds, which now primarily come from Morocco and Romania, are today used to flavor gin, liqueurs, hotdogs, chewing gum, and cigarettes. Traditionally, they are reputed to combat flatulence. And Arab women still chew them to ease labor pains. Today, in leaf and seed form, it's used most commonly in the cuisines of Mexican, North African, and Oriental countries.
Fresh cilantro does not keep well, and the flavor of dried is not comparable. To store, pick out any wilted leaves, and put it in a jar with water like a bunch of flowers. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag and put the whole thing in the refrigerator. Change the water every two days or so, picking out any wilted leaves when you do.
There is good flavor in the roots and they usually end up in a motar to be crushed by a pestle for sauces.