Ina Garten hates only one food/garnish: Cilantro ‘tastes like soap to me’


Ina Garten

I don’t keep up with the science of taste, how foods taste different to different people, and how there are biological and genetic reasons for that. So this article sort of blew my mind. I was reading this piece about how Ina Garten hates the taste of cilantro and then People Mag went on to explain that there’s possibly a genetic reason why certain people hate the taste of cilantro in particular. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other about cilantro, although I can only recall one pasta dish I’ve had where cilantro made a positive difference in my meal. From People:

We all have that one food that makes us say yuck, never, get it off my plate now. And for the first time we’re aware of, Barefoot Contessa host Ina Garten has confessed to the edible item that falls into this category for her. What is it? Cilantro. In fact, Garten insists that this citrus-like herb will never, ever appear on her ingredients list.

“Hate it!” she said recently during the latest episode of VICE’s Munchies podcast. “I know people love it, and you can add it to the recipe. I just hate it. To me it’s so strong—and it actually tastes like soap to me—but it’s so strong it overpowers every other flavor.”

Interestingly, Garten isn’t alone in her distaste for this parsley-like plant food. Many people have denounced cilantro for its soapy flavor, including culinary legend Julia Child. And the unpleasant taste is not all in the heads of those who refuse to garnish their tacos and guac with it. Some people simply have a genetic predisposition for liking or loathing cilantro’s flavor. In a 2012 study published in the scientific journal Flavour, researchers found that people with a particular gene tend to describe cilantro as “soapy.”

Another 2012 study of twins from Oxford University found three additional genes that could be responsible for a person’s like or dislike of cilantro. “Many aspects of human perception of taste and smell stimuli are at least partially determined by genotype,” study authors wrote. Still, your genes aren’t the only factor that determines where you stand with cilantro. Nicholas Eriksson, lead author of the Flavour study, wrote in the study that genes only play a 10% role in a person’s food preferences.

[From People]

There is literally a gene to explain why cilantro tastes soapy to people!! That blew my mind. I mean, I’m sure the gene does other things as well, it’s probably not just the Soapy Cilantro gene. I wonder if there’s any genetic reason for other food aversions too? Like, is there a genetic reason why the smell of melting cheese makes me nauseous? It’s the same with the smell of clarified butter for me too – I will puke all over you if you’re using or making clarified butter (my dad used to make ghee and it is still so disgusting to me).

Anyway… I don’t mind cilantro so I guess I don’t have the Soapy Cilantro gene. I still love hearing about other people’s food aversions.

40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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183 Responses to “Ina Garten hates only one food/garnish: Cilantro ‘tastes like soap to me’”

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  1. Pawra says:

    The real question is when is she going to update that hairstyle?

    • Nancy says:

      With her cooking skills, she doesn’t have to do anything aesthetically to please us. This woman is so brilliant. She worked at the White House before starting her catering business. Go pick on the Pioneer Woman or someone like that! lol…..Ina’s lemon chicken is to die for, love it. I’m with her on cilantro, it does taste like soap. Seems like it got popular when all the cooking shows started popping up, Top Chef, Iron Chef, etc. I’ve learned a lot from Ina, love her.

    • cara says:

      I cannot stand this woman. I watched her show a few times until it was reported Make a Wish asked her if she would make a dying child’s wish come true by allowing the child to cook with her. They were not asking to have the child on her TV show, just to spend few hours with the child and cook something simple. Her answer…..NO!! That was it for me and this POS who thought she was too special to honor a sick child’s request.

      • Nancy says:

        I’d suggest you do some research. She is besieged with requests from legions of fans and was not aware of this wish. Once she found out she invited Enzo on her show. The parents of the child came to her defense, knowing the facts. I’m not her publicist but suggest people who make such accusations do their homework.

      • jwoolman says:

        She never saw that request. Someone on her staff who screens her correspondence didn’t think it was serious, probably. Or it just got overlooked. She doesn’t shoot continuously over the year also, they do a whole bunch of them in a certain time period. It’s not like shows that can easily accommodate visitors on set to just meet and greet or to sit in an audience. There is no audience for her show and it’s done in her house.

        Make a Wish asks people to not do as the family did, publicizing any time the wish doesn’t get granted. The kids are supposed to have several choices on their list and it is emphasized that their first choice may simply not be available. It was grossly unfair that they did this to her. Here it is years later, and people still think she callously turned down a sick child….

      • cara says:

        Sorry ladies, I am right on this, and this according to Garten’s own people. Make a Wish tried TWICE, (It was the child’s first and second choice) to get Garten to change her mind, she gave “a soft no”(the second time) meaning she “might” IF she found the time for the dying 6 year child.

        After backlash from many organizations, the hefty Garten, did a “turnaround” and said she would cook with the child, the child’s parents turned Garten down, they did not want their child disappointed a THIRD time by Ms Garten.

        Her PR put out the story saying she didn’t see or didn’t know about the TWO requests. That was a blatant LIE to try and make her look halfway human.

    • inga says:

      ask Anna Venture, i don’t remember a title of book, but the idea is: real fashionista find the “perfect hair style” & keep it for the rest of her life…

  2. H says:

    I agree, except cilantro tastes like death to me. I’m allergic.

    • Ravensdaughter says:

      It’s not an allergy-it’s a gene (or lack thereof). Some people taste cilantro as something spicier than parsley; others describe it as soap, pencil shavings, or death (in your case). I think you have to have the gene to taste it properly, or it may be the other way around. In any case, if everyone at your table loves the salsa-cilantro dip and you don’t want to get anywhere near it, the reason is genetic.

      • shannon says:

        I think H is saying that in her particular case (or his), it IS an allergy, hence it tastes like death. And I am also in the cilantro tastes like soap camp. I thought it was weird that my family loved it and I was always thinking I hadn’t rinsed the dishes very well because I was tasting soap. I looked it up and was glad to find it was actually a thing and I’m just one of those people who will never appreciate cilantro.

      • Blair Warner says:

        I don’t taste it as spicy at all – to me it smells and tastes like a damp basement! Ugh.

    • AnnaKist says:

      I’m with Ina about cilantro. We call it coriander. To me, it smells like wee, and it tastes like that smell. Every time I go to the greengrocer, it’s almost as if I can see the coriander miasma when approaching the herb display. Yuck. I also hate basil, which, being Italian, people find strange.

      • Jenny says:

        Yes fresh cilantro/coriander ruins every dish for me. I can’t stand the taste of it, makes me throw up. I thought I was the only one who feels this way since nowadays it’s everywhere in restaurant food. It’s like the chefs just add fresh cilantro willy-nilly to every dish they make. Truly disgusting.

        Also, have no idea who this woman is but she’s spot on about cilantro.

  3. frisbee says:

    In the UK we call it coriander, nice in a curry but I agree with her, it tastes horrible as a garnish, a bit like rocket, disgusting on its own but really brightens up a green salad. And on that note I’m off to find me a Mars bar…

  4. Originaltessa says:

    Ahhh! Me too!! Hate cilantro. Tastes like you put dish soap in my burrito.

    • Sojaschnitzel says:

      I am fully on board with this aswell. I cannot eat anything that was even in close proximity to Koriander (which is how we call this disgusting stuff in my part of the world). That gene theory I think I heard a couple of years ago already. Biology is quite funny.

  5. JEM says:

    I HATE cilantro. With a passion. I hate being that gringo who orders tacos with no pico de gallo and no onions and cilantro, but I have to!

  6. Skylark says:

    How weird! I love cilantro – or coriander as it’s known this side of the pond – and can’t imagine eg. a curry or salsa without its fragrant fieryness.

  7. Embee says:

    I love cilantro! I love it especially in Mexican dishes. No soapy gene here, I guess. I know a guy who has a strong arugula aversion (but it’s an unusually strong taste) and I have a friend who swears bell peppers are too spicy for her.

  8. Lolo86lf says:

    I totally understand her. I personaly absolutely hate oregano. My mother added it to the her beef stew once and I could not eat it. Ughhhh.

  9. Amelie says:

    Oh yeah I knew about the cilantro soap thing (it was one of those weird things that popped up in science class in high school) but I like cilantro so clearly not in the soap camp.

  10. Lensblury says:

    Lol… to me coriander tastes a bit soapy, too, but I still love it. Especially for curry.

  11. Lorena says:

    Can’t imagine not eating cilantro on Mexican food. Love it and don’t taste soap at all

  12. STRIPE says:

    I have the genetic aversion to licorice flavor. We hate all things black licorice, anise, fennel and most bitter things like tonic water and Campari. All evil.

  13. Wren says:

    Yup, it’s a fact. Both my mother and I absolutely hate cilantro. It tastes like someone stuck a bar of Ivory soap into the dish. The taste is a physical sensation it’s so strong.

    Once, I was eating dinner at my husband’s (weird and strange but not in a good way) aunt’s house with his whole family and she made this weird watermelon cilantro soup. I’m slightly allergic to watermelon and cilantro is disgusting to me, but everyone was giving me “eat your damn soup” death stares so I had to choke some down. It was like eating a bowl of soapy watermelon flavored dishwater. That made my mouth itch like crazy and my throat start to swell closed, all while I had to pretend it was delicious. One of the worst family dinners ever.

    • Nancy says:

      @Wren: Why on earth would you eat something that you’re allergic to??? They trying to off you….lol. It actually sounded like something I would like minus the cilantro. I’ve been drinking melon juice and it’s everything. Still chuckling at the weird and strange aunt, not in a good way….Ha!!

    • Enough Already says:

      This sounds unhealthy. The family relationship, not the food allergy. Your husband didn’t help you stand up for your right to not eat food that could harm you?

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      What a horrible situation. Even with a slight allergy the consequences can be unpleasant/tragic.

      • Wren says:

        Yeah, it really was. Fortunately it’s more in the category of “annoying and socially awkward” than “life threatening”, and these people subscribe to the belief that if it’s not going to kill you then you’re making a big deal out of nothing. It wasn’t going to kill me, so I ate it. Blegh.

    • Alexandria says:

      Wren, I’m sure you ate everything else and was decent company. I hope in future they will understand your food allergy. Who’s gonna pay the bills if you get sick?

    • Angela82 says:

      I remember some of my family members grew up with the “if its on your plate eat it or you’re rude” mentality. My aunt despises mayo and blue cheese and yet if a guest would eat it and this wasn’t even homemade stuff. Luckily my mom never went there with us. Yeah she expected us to eat something off our plate if we were having dinner at a relatives or friends house, but never went as far as to force us to eat something we really despised or had an allergy to. As I get older the more ridiculous that mentality is to me. Lots of people have allergies, sensitivities, special diets. Some may not eat meat or fried food. No one should be forced to swallow down something that hate. Yes try and be polite and find something to eat, but why eat something you already know you can’t stand just to please others.

      • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

        I grew up with that too, but I was never ever forced to finish my plate. It is a cultural thing though, not eating everything mean you are rude in the sense that it’s disrespectful for the host who made the effort to provide the food, or it implies that the food is not good. In other cultures if you eat all the food they will think you are hungry and the host didn’t do a good job. Or if you eat everything you are too greedy. When I was vegan I went to a home dinner once and the host didn’t know I was vegan. I ate the smallest piece of meat and a bigger portion of veggies so they won’t feel bad, and a coffee for desert instead of cake and yes, I told them I had cake earlier and watched the calories. They gave me two pieces of cake “for later” which I offered my colleagues the next day. They were happy, LOL.

      • Angela82 says:

        @Pumpkin: yeah my mom grew up where you were expected to finish the plate or you didn’t get a snack or soda as a treat. I don’t agree with it b/c I think it teaches people poor eating habits. Like for example, I can imagine myself finishing a plate of home cooked food where I can choose my portion sizes. However, my concern is that when these same people go to a restaurant like Cheesecake Factory where the portions are huge people have already been trained to finish the plate which is bad since some of their plates can be over 2,000 calories. Anyways, I am partially for the being polite thing. I will try most food at least once. However, I am not someone who is vegan or has major food sensitivities. And even if I have certain habits if someone plans a dinner around me I will try most things, I just may not eat a lot of it depending lol. I do draw the line at overeating or eating things I am even mildly allergic to though.

        ETA: I know where the finish your food mentality comes from. My grandma lived through the Depression. The problem these days is there is almost an overabundance of food and most of whats advertised isn’t healthy. :-(

      • jwoolman says:

        I get nauseated by Got Milk? commercials because I was forced to drink milk as a kid. Had my first allergic reaction to it at six, but “we don’t have allergies in our family”. I would get to the point where I knew I would vomit if I had to take one more sip. I should have done that, maybe that would have made the point. Chocolate like Nestle’s Quik masked the odor enough for me to get it down but it still felt awful and had other delayed effects. I am not a chocolate fan, and I wonder if that’s why.

        I hate the taste of caraway seeds. I used to pick it out of rye bread, driving my mother mad. I love rye, but have to read labels very carefully to make sure the dreaded caraway isn’t in there. Don’t know if it’s an allergy or a genetic aversion like soapy cilantro. I am otherwise a big seed fan.

        I also can’t stand the taste of stevia, just try to avoid that today…. Apparently that really is a genetic aversion like the cilantro thing. Many people are fine with stevia, but a certain percentage of the population is like me. I can tolerate it in drinks only if the taste is drowned out by enough fruit juice or cane/beet sugar. I don’t like artificial sweeteners either. So that’s me perusing the drink labels very carefully…. I also try to get soda made with cane sugar, since that tastes so much better to me than corn syrup.

    • Wren says:

      Thanks for the concern, you guys :) :) :)

      In the end I was fine. It was just deeply unpleasant but no lasting damage.

      It was a super awkward situation and yes, the family dynamics are not healthy. The meal was already tense anyway because of said family dynamics so the last thing I needed was everyone focused on me. It’s very much an “eat what you’re given and no, you don’t get a say in it, I slaved all day on this meal and you’re damn well going to eat it” branch of his family. My husband saved me by demanding to finish my soup if I was done with it after I’d had the obligatory few mouthfuls. He hated it too but he’s not allergic.

      I’m already a picky eater so I try to be as discrete as possible with foods I don’t like. I have these weird allergic reactions to certain foods that seem to come and go. Grew up eating peas then suddenly couldn’t eat them for a few years. Watermelon too. And sweet corn. My mouth gets itchy, and my lips and tongue would swell up. If I persisted, my throat would start to get tight. I’m back to normal within 30 minutes but it’s not fun. I can eat peas again now. It’s weird.

      • jwoolman says:

        Some food allergies are permanent and you will react even after years away from it. But quite a few are “cyclic” and if you stay away from the foods long enough then you can eat them without a reaction. One way to deal with that is to rotate those foods. Stay away from them for a long enough time, then just make sure you don’t eat them too often. The spacing needed varies so you have to experiment. Some people need just a day in between, others need several days or a week or two, others need even longer periods. It sounds as though you are prone to such cyclic allergies.

        It also might possibly have something to do with whether or not you happen to have a “leaky gut”. The theory is that Candida albicans yeast especially can get a tad overgrown and in a particular stage can cause permeability of the intestinal wall. If food molecules or their metabolites get where they shouldn’t be, the immune system may attack them. That kind of a condition might come and go depending on other things going on.

        But empirically speaking, rotating all foods is a way people prone to allergies can help prevent acquiring more. It isn’t as hard as it sounds if you mainly eat simply, I’ll do that when under a lot of stress. Otherwise I try not to eat the same thing all the time. I do not want to get allergic to peanut butter….

        I have to be careful with tomatoes and wheat. Love tomatoes especially but if I start eating them more than once or twice a week, I start to react. I try to eat raw tomatoes no more often than once a week especially. The high prices over the past few years has helped…. With wheat, I need to not eat it every day or at every meal and not in huge amounts. Not sure if it’s an allergy or some other kind of intolerance, I know I didn’t react when testing plain wheat (flour and water) decades ago during allergy testing. It doesn’t seem to be the gluten. I’m fine with foods made with wheat gluten or wheat protein concentrate.

        I’m allergic to dairy, especially milk, but can eat some cheese as long as I don’t go wild. I try to keep it to 1 or 2 ounces a day and don’t eat it every day. I package cheese in 1oz portions in plastic sandwich bags (twist and knot to seal) and freeze what I don’t think I’ll eat soon enough to make it easier. I’ve gone for months without it on occasion with no trouble, so it’s not an essential food…. But before my dairy allergy was diagnosed, I had an allergic addiction to it and would get symptoms if I didn’t have it in every meal. Took two weeks of total abstinence to shake the addiction.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      You do know, Wren, that your allergy could worsen any time? If you keep exposing yourself to the allergen, your response could increase. Especially concerning is the oral symptom
      - you could experience airway compromise, scary stuff.

    • poorlittlerichgirl says:

      If you were truly allergic then you wouldn’t have eaten it. Food allergies are very dangerous.

  14. skyblue says:

    I love cilantro too. Doesn’t taste a bit like soap to me. I do wonder if there is a gene responsible for the reaction I have to goat cheese. I hate it! For me it tastes the way goats smell. And it doesn’t matter where or how I’ve tried it. Artisanal to commercial brands…blech blech blech.

  15. JenB says:

    #teamgivemeallthecilantro

    There is no gray area for most people with cilantro.

  16. detritus says:

    OMG my two favorite topics, food and science. There is so much crazy interesting info about how the two come together.

    did you know that the more flavors a dish has, the more addictive it is?
    So peanut butter laced fudgecake with salted peanut topping and whipped cream is more cravable and addicting than a straight up shortbread cookie.

    Also, interesting news coming out that suggests caffeine and its adenosine receptor impact may change how we taste sweet.

    Final note – You’ve been lied to your entire life. Tastebuds taste all flavors, there aren’t particular regions of your tongue that taste salty, sweet, sour and bitter.

    Final, Final note: peppermint and hot spiciness are pain receptor responses not flavors.

    • CariBean says:

      That is interesting! And I’ll have a slice of that fudgecake please. 🍽

    • Embee says:

      Wow that’s fascinating! I wonder what the pain receptor thing means about people who love spicy food versus don’t? Does it have implications for pain tolerance in other areas of the body?

      This is my favorite thread on CB in awhile!

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      Super interesting info.

      I have one food addiction and it’s bad: instant ramen noodles. I “discovered” them once when i was sick with a cold and craved something hot and spicy and liquidy. I had two portions, then a glass of hot water, then a paracetamol, slept for an hour and I was back on my feet. Luckily that happened before I went abroad to a place where instant ramen is impossible to find. But I did take 5 packs with me, and when I got sick with the flu, my (I swear) emergency ramen “saved” me.
      I just love salty and hot dishes. I don’t eat sweets that much except for when I am pms-ing, but I will get a “cure” for that too because I sometimes go overboard with my “indulgences”.

      • SoulSPA says:

        Pumpkin, you’re so funny!!!

      • detritus says:

        I think there’s something to a salty carby meal. I love soup of all forms, so I am down for all the Ramens. Also ramen with cilantro and chopped green onion is like fancy right?
        I have sensitivity to wheat, so I can’t eat a whole one anymore though, I’m a bit jealous of you.

      • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

        @detritus: sorry about your sensitivity to wheat. But there is HOPE ! Have you tried alternatives to wheat noodles? I make my own versions of ramen at home, so far I used rice vermicelli and buckwheat noodles and it tasted really good. It’s not the same texture as the instant noodles, but the broth was spot on and the noodles were more than decent (I cooked them separately from the broth to avoid a starch cloud in the soup).

      • detritus says:

        Haha yeah I’ve tried a lot of the other varieties.
        I really like buckwheat for the most part, and because i’m not gluten intolerant I can do spelt stuff as well, which tends to be really nice. I haven’t gone near those zero cal noodles yet though, have ou tried them?

        Nothing has quite the same texture though, you know? So I still eat ramen sometimes and face the consequences lol.

        What do you use to spice the broth? i’ve had a hard time replicating the flavor packets and sometiems you want that super salty not fancy taste.

      • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

        Super, I am glad you can still enjoy ramen !! Yes, the texture of instant ramen is one of a kind. I am addicted to that bite, it’s divine. I have seen non-cal noodles at the shop but didn’t try them yet. It sounds too weird and I am afraid it feels like you eat nothing. I might give them a go though. I use chili flakes for the broth, I fry them until they become almost black before I add the other broth stuffs. I did a test with non-fried chili but it was a bit bitter/weird. I also tried hot chili powder but I didn’t like it. Fried chili flakes work best for me. I use red miso and I don’t have to add any salt. Salt is what keeps me away from the instant noodles, they have 4g per pack. I have vegan and non-vegan versions but I think fat plays a major role. I made only one non vegan version and I used a cut of pork with fat on it. It was very good, better than the ramen I had in restaurants.
        And now I crave ramen AND cilantro !

      • jwoolman says:

        Well, two Wasabi peas would clear up my nasal congestion for a few minutes during one cold that was so bad that I had to type standing up.

        Waiting for a doctor to say “Take two Wasabi peas and call me in the morning.”

        I always keep some Wasabi peas on hand after that experience….

      • jwoolman says:

        Detritus – I found some rice-based ramen noodles online. Some Asian noodle bowls for microwaving are made with rice noodles.

        I love buckwheat noodles, the 100% buckwheat kind.

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      “peppermint and hot spiciness are pain receptor responses not flavors.”

      I am officially a masochist. Gimme peppermint candy, the stronger the better. I don’t want to live without hot spiciness. I make humus with chipotle, spicy broths, I put fried chili and garlic on my noodles, hot chili in my chocolate, curries. If chili candy were on the market I would be the first to buy it. At least I can get ginger candy, I could eat that all day.

    • I Choose Me says:

      peppermint and hot spiciness are pain receptor responses not flavors. Thank you! I’ve been telling people this for years.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Peppermint? Really, really?? That’s crazy!

    • Luna says:

      If I use a too-minty toothpaste, the mint tingle can turn into a burning sensation and even damage the top layer of skin in my mouth. It eventually sloughs off like sunburned skin.
      On the topic of cilantro: this discussion explains so much. I hate the stuff.

  17. Mel M says:

    Was just talking about this with my girlfriends. We went to dinner and one ordered chicken quesadillas and couldn’t eat them because of cilantro. I love cilantro so I took one for the team lol. The one thing I cannot stand is celery. Raw, cooked, seed in a dish. I can smell it a mile away and I absolutely hate everything about it. Mr. M doesn’t understand me because he thinks it doesn’t have a strong taste.

    • Originaltessa says:

      Omg, the celery thing… my husband can’t stand it either, but I honestly don’t know how to make some of my signature recipes without it. Are you seriously asking me to make stuffing at Thanksgiving without celery?? So I just tell him to suck it up or push it to the side… but my cilantro aversion is very real, and now I feel bad.

      • detritus says:

        People who hate celery are often super tasters (people with significantly more than the regular number of taste buds per square cm). Does your hubby dislike strongly flavored foods as well?

      • Mel M says:

        @Originaltess-haha! Oh yes I am! My mom actually makes a special batch of stuffing for me without the celery if we are with them for Thanksgiving. Any type of salad from potato to tuna, if it has celery, no way. Even in soup when it’s soft and cooked all the way down I can’t do it.

      • BorkBorkBork says:

        detritus, yes! I’ve taken wine and food sensory courses, and some people are super-tasters, and some are super-smellers. I’m a super-smeller, able to parse out scents like a dog. It’s a curse and a pleasure. However, it makes food extra “smelly” to me… even mild celery is sharp and green, subtly spicy, crisp. There aren’t enough words in English to describe smells!

        If anyone out there is a super-taster and would like to pair up for wine tastings, let me know. :) Otherwise, normal people have to listen to me rattle on about the smell of the wine faults and virtues.

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      I used to hate celery and celeriac but when I started a vegan diet I discovered this channel that featured a potato and celeriac cream soup. The recipe uses mustard as well – that’s the only condiment, so it cuts out some of that strong flavor.

    • Lacia Can says:

      The only way I can eat celery is if it’s cut up very small and boiled nearly out of existence, so I sympathize. My husband loves it, and I put it in stir fry for his sake. I once accidentally bit into a piece from the stir fry and nearly brought the entire meal right back up! Blergh.

      Also, put me on team soapy. It’s unfortunate because I otherwise love Mexican. ☹️ Only lately I seem to have developed a sensitivity to avocados. The last two times I ate them I had serious stomach cramps and nausea. Might as well stop eating Mexican.

    • minxx says:

      Same here. I love cilantro and I can’t imagine cooking without it but I cannot stand licorice and anise. Can’t even bear the smell of it.

    • Shijel says:

      I loathe both celery and cilantro. They taste godawful to me, like medicine/soap/stale piss soaked public toilet to me.

      I definitely have the ‘hates cilantro’ gene, and turns out that there’s a gene for celery too… I think. Most people just taste a stick of water apparently, but for me, celery flavour is overwhelmingly strong and nasty.

  18. Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

    1. I have a love-and-hate relationship with cilantro. If I eat out in an Asian restaurant and the dish has coriander I tolerate it, especially with vegetarian noodles, but I never ever cook at home with it.
    2. One herb I cannot stand is rosemary. I just can’t. I’d rather go for cilantro.
    3. I don’t eat the garnish. For me it’s just an ornament that makes a dish look appealing.

    • detritus says:

      I used to HATE sage.
      Its grown on me a bit, but the smell of dried sage still makes me barfy.

      Parsley alone is not good, and no one should have to eat it lol. Push that garnish aside.

      • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

        I hate dried basil, but I love it fresh. And parsley, but that was not always the case. I fell in love with it when I was in the Middle East, I like taboulleh and also the version without tomatoes. And thyme, I fell in love with it also in the ME when I had those flat breads with thyme, olive oil, sesame seeds and labneh. And yes, no garnish for me !!

      • Angela82 says:

        I only like sage in sausage gravy which I have like once a year as my cheat treat lol. My mom has an amazing recipe and I really think its the sage sausage that makes it. I try to eat it out and its usually too bland. without some kick to it.

  19. jc126 says:

    I have the “cilantro as soap” gene, but I’ve found repeated exposures to it diminish the impact. It doesn’t taste “light”, but the soap taste lessens. I can’t NOT eat Mexican food.
    I think I might be one of those super tasters in general – can barely stomach bitter stuff like radicchio or broccoli, hate garlic, hate Brie cheese, etc.

  20. nemera34 says:

    Someone speaking the truth.. I HATE cilantro.. hate it.

  21. Elina says:

    Have fun eating tacos. Also, please don’t visit Mexico.

    • Nicole (the Cdn One) says:

      I have the soap cilantro gene and go to Mexico twice a year and have no problem finding dishes and places that accommodate my needs and still let me enjoy the amazing food and flavours it has to offer. All on the approach you take, I guess.

  22. Another Anne says:

    My one food aversion is blue cheese. All I can taste is the mold. Ugh. The taste of other moldy foods is disgusting, so whey do people accept it in cheese?

    • Lensblury says:

      Me, too. I have a strong aversion to Gorgonzola. Even the name sounds relatively ugly to me, so it pretty much matches the taste for me. To me the mold tastes metallic and is way too intense. Some other blue cheeses are okay, I don’t know why. And while I like cheese in general, I couldn’t order a Quattro Formaggi without asking for some other cheese instead of the Gorgonzola.

    • Mel M says:

      Hate blue cheese too and Mr. M loves it. It tastes like a cleaning product was just sprayed on my food.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Blue cheese, ranch, okras, raw tomatoes, brussel sprouts and christophene. I will puke if you give me any of those foods to eat.

      • acheron says:

        Yes! Who wants to eat a stinking lump of mouldy dairy product? And ranch dressing – just the smell is nauseating, and you can smell that shit from miles away. The smell of mayonnaise is horrifically nasty as well as is stinky celery, and ugh, turkey, and raw meat…

        I used to find coriander/cilantro soapy as well but repeated exposure has made it taste better. It still is vaguely soapy, but I can taste the limey/parsley notes to it, too.

  23. Angela82 says:

    I am also not a fan of cilantro. If it was up to me it wouldn’t be in food. I think it is too strong a flavor and overpowers almost everything. That’s why I rather stick with parsley and prefer Italian over Mexican food. However, I can tolerate it. If it shows up in guacamole (the one Mexican food I can’t get enough of) I will still eat it. The real food aversion (probably phobia) I can’t deal with is my hatred of mayonnaise. I can’t even stand to look at it without wanting to dry heave. I have no idea why it grosses me out so much. :-(

    • Pedro45 says:

      I call mayonnaise “the devil’s condiment”. So gross.

      • minxx says:

        It’s funny how almost every deli salad in the US has some mayo in it whereas in Europe it’s rarely used and the dressing generally are not creamy either, just basic lemon/vinegar/oil.

      • Nancy says:

        My husband hates mayonnaise. When making potato salad, deviled eggs, or anything of that nature, I use Miracle Whip Salad Dressing. It’s much lighter than mayo and doesn’t taste as eggy or heavy. Only thing in our house. I was feeding my baby at lunch and Ina was on. She was making mussels cooked in white wine. Ironically, she used saffron mayo! I’ll skip that, but definitely will go shopping for some mussels this weekend! Minxx: Yep, I am of European descent and I put lemon and olive oil on everything.

      • Angela82 says:

        @minxx and Nancy: I love all side salads so long as they are vinegar or oil based. My parents are on a health kick lately so they have been making it that way instead of the mayo way. But yeah growing up my sides were always so limited at BBQ places and even at BBQs recently its the same – mayo everywhere lol. Maybe I belong in Europe.

        I can tolerate homemade lighter flavored aiolis. Probably b/c its olive oil based. But it still bothers me ordering a sandwich and having globs and globs of creamy substance on it lol.

      • jwoolman says:

        Nancy – don’t know if this helps, but maybe an eggless mayonnaise would work? Vegenaise by Follow Your Heart is great. Maybe the ingredients are different enough that it would taste good to a mayonnaise hater.

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      Mayo is the only thing I love but avoid eating too much of or too often because of the calories. But I found tip on using mayo to make chopped liver smoother and the result rocked my culinary world. My chopped liver recipe has chicken liver, eggs, mayo, parsley. salt and a tiny quantity of white pepper, it’s a caloric bomb and dangerously tasty. I made it for a party once (on crackers) and everybody tried it and loved it. I do it every three months maybe but I don’t eat it if I am hungry, lesson learnt from the first time I made it.

      • Angela82 says:

        @Pumpkin: that actually sounds pretty good. :-) If mayo is in something I can deal with it more than by itself lol.

        My usual sub for mayo on sandwiches that I can’t really use ketchup or mustard with is avocado something or other – whether its a spread, by itself or guac. I know avocado isn’t everyone’s thing, and even though its high in calories I try to tell myself its all healthy fats and will keep my fuller longer.

      • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

        @Angela82: avocado is GREAT ! I love it. I used to make avocado, sugar and full-fat milk shakes. i want to try it with vegan milk too. I can eat it alone or with a splash of soy sauce. Or in a sandwich with cherry tomatoes. A few years ago I had a baked avocado with prawns, I was skeptical but gave it a go and it was GLORIOUS. There was this half avocado with some cooked prawns, very nice seasoned, in the hallow part. I have to find a recipe because I can’t tell what seasoning they used.
        It is indeed full of healthy fats but I don’t care about the calories, there are about 230 in a small avocado, so with a slice of bread and some tomatoes it goes to about 400. 400 out of app 1,800 per day leave room for 1,400 and that’s OK for my current needs. I’d rather have an avocado sandwich than chips or chocolate.
        I forgot about onions in my chopped liver recipe! They have to be well cooked. I cook the liver and the onions separately, it makes a notable difference.

    • acheron says:

      MAYONNAISE. Oh my God Angela, yes, it is my nemesis. It’s in everything, and restaurants try to hide it as “special sauce” or “aioli.” The texture is horrific – greasy, thick, and sticky like rotten-egg napalm. The smell – the hint of old eggs, combined with vinegar and grease. And the taste! My god, it’s repulsive. I gag just at the smell of it. And it’s in SO MUCH. Every non-vinaigrette salad, sandwich, or dip seems tainted by it.

  24. PunkyMomma says:

    I hate cilantro. If that makes me a distant relative of Ina Garten, how bad can that be?

    In addition to her homestead in the Hamptons, Ina has apartments in NYC and Paris, and a lifestyle I certainly envy (well, Jeffrey is cute but a little too absent for my needs). I say “Ina, wear that bob if it floats your boat!”

  25. Molly says:

    Wait. “And for the first time we’re aware of, Barefoot Contessa host Ina Garten has confessed to the edible item that falls into this category for her. What is it? Cilantro.”

    Ina’s talked several times on her show that she hates cilantro because it tastes like soap to her. I hate when magazines like this have writers write about things they don’t know very well. SOME OF US WERE ALREADY AWARE!

  26. Claire says:

    I have always said this! And I second the hate for black licorice/fennel and goat cheese. Blech. Also awful-horseradish

  27. Veronica says:

    So it is genetic! One of my friends at a camping trip a few weeks ago was just stating that cilantro tastes the exact same way to her. We were discussing whether or not it had to do with genetics since everybody’s descriptions were exactly the same depending on whether or not they like it.

  28. Alexandria says:

    I enjoyed this article because I got to learn about the gene theory. Science (while gossiping)!

  29. SoulSPA says:

    I love coriander/cilantro with passion. I first ate it as an adult in a Thai dish. Then in Indian and some South American dishes. Will have it tonight in a home-made dal curry!!!

  30. OSTONE says:

    I am Mexican and cilantro is a staple for our cuisine! I think a lot of us don’t have the soapy gene! Fascinating!

    • SoulSPA says:

      Good point @OSTONE. Maybe genetics apply to developing tolerance to certain foods, in this case cilantro. Or growing up eating something makes it normal.

    • Angela82 says:

      My mom’s side is Mexican and my dad’s side is Canadian. Both her parents and siblings absolutely love cilantro. Her siblings all ended up marrying white Americans and they all hate cilantro so now the cousins (mixed race) are about 50/50 in terms of who loves vs hates cilantro. My dad hates cilantro and both my brother and I pretty much can’t stand it, although if forced I can eat it. I have been wondering for years why I dislike it so this makes perfect sense.

      I also have a real dislike of red onions and raw onions…caramelized are delicious. I wonder if thats genetic lol.

      • Anners says:

        I can’t eat raw onions at all! I used to love red onions, but now they either give me heartburn or make me nauseous, which is sad because my favourite way to eat raw veggies is in a Greek village salad. Caramelized onions, on the other hand, are delightful. I would love a lecture on here about food intolerances and genetics :)

  31. Amelia says:

    As if I needed a reason to love her more lol. I just cannot get into Cilantro!

  32. Olive says:

    I think there’s a genetic component to that – it showed up on my 23andme results, like “Less likely to taste soap when eating cilantro.”

    very tragic for those who suffer. May their loss be my delicious benefit.

  33. Jaded says:

    I can’t live without cilantro. I will grab a fresh-chopped handful and hold it to my nose just to inhale that heavenly scent. Another cilantro ‘Fun Fact’ – it actually removes heavy metal toxins from your bloodstream and major organs. I will occasionally make cilantro pesto and eat a couple of tablespoons a day on chicken or fish or pasta for a few weeks to detox myself.

  34. L84Tea says:

    People usually either love or hate cilantro. I detest it. It is the one food that as soon as it hits my palette I actually physically react to it–like a jerking reaction. It’s awful.

  35. CharlieBouquet says:

    Detrius I SHOULD have known that anal would hurt going in when jalapeno poppers hurt came out, damn boo where were you 20yrs ago lol.

  36. CharlieBouquet says:

    Also I honestly believe one small part of the patriarchy success, is not spending time and financial resources on image modifications. Huffpo recently had a piece where a mom limited her daughter to 15 minutes of mirror time after realizing her son rolled from bed and hit the road while her daughter had makeup time, clothes swap time. Even as no dye simple braid lady, I never thought how much of life was removing hair, doing my nails etc. What I might accomplish if I didn’t do that? And would it matter because no one wants to deal with a woman with no makeup and no heels and gray hair?

  37. oke says:

    Guys! I have to nitpick because this is literally my job (source: am evolutionary geneticist).

    When you say you don’t have the “gene” that causes cilantro to taste soapy, what you really mean is you don’t have the allele (or alleles). We all have the same genes, but we have different alleles, which are variants of the gene that differ in the actual DNA sequence and result in slightly different proteins.

    In the case of cilantro, people who are very sensitive to it have olfactory proteins that strongly bind soapy-tasting/smelling chemicals called aldehydes. This strong-binding variant is most common in people of European descent (not to say it’s absent elsewhere, just less common). If you have two weak-binding alleles (one from each parent), cilantro just tastes herb-y. One strong-binding allele, and you taste soap but may be able to tolerate it. Two strong-binding alleles, and the soapiness may be so overwhelming that you can barely be near it. The genetics of it aren’t *really* that cut-and-dry, but this particular gene is thought to control a large proportion of your reaction to cilantro.

    This is similar to the genetics of bitter-tasting. Strong-binding bitter alleles for tastebud receptor proteins are most common in native Americans (both North and South). If you’re a strong bitter taster, you’re less likely to enjoy veggies like broccoli and kale, less likely to be a smoker, and less likely to take your coffee black. All because you can taste some super gross sulphur-based compounds that others (particularly of northern European descent) literally can’t.

    But — as in all food, there is also a huge a cultural component in learning to enjoy different flavors.

  38. Shan says:

    I heard about that cilantro gene years ago when Anderson Cooper had his talk show. He has extreme aversion to many foods, hence why they brought that up. It’s very interesting!

    For me, onions are the devil. I have always had bad reactions to onions, and some people are actually anaphylactic to onions. Thankfully, I’m not that bad.

    • Angela82 says:

      I have no allergy to onions but I can’t stand them raw, especially the red ones. I really have to make sure to ask when I go to a Greek restaurant b/d they show up in everything lol. But I do see where some onions come in when it comes to cooking. And caramelized onions have grown on me when it comes to pizza and soup, but they must be super super mild and cooked to death or its gross and I can’t eat it. I can’t stand when pizza places put them on pizza and they are still pretty much raw when the pizza is done. :-(

      • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

        My favorite pizza has anchovies and cream. Once there was a different pizza guy and he put raw onion and since the cream is moist it did not allow the onions to cook. I removed the onions but that took some time and my pizza was not as hot as I like it to be.

  39. Gil says:

    Real Mexican food includes cilantro in many of its dishes. The “Mexican” food you guys are getting in the USA it is Tex-mex food and it is quite different to Mexican food. Some people in Mexico would put it in the center of the table during meals so you eat one or two leafs along with your food. In Mexico you can find much more stronger leaves than cilantro like watercress and papalos (Bolivian colliander) and epazote (wormseed). Those are really really strong flavored leaves and really few people can eat them (I love all those flavors thou)
    I understand cilantro has a really strong flavor for people that aren’t used to it. Since I grew up eating really strong flavored leaves I love it but I cannot eat certain leaves like parsley and shiso. I live in Japan and every time I find shiso on my food it is a bad bad experience. Although I can eat any other kind of leaves. I have eaten food from Vietnam, Hong Kong and Thailand and their main dishes contained fresh peppermint or cilantro leaves which added so much flavor to the dishes. I don’t know why I cannot eat parsley and shiso. Maybe I just don’t have to right genes to enjoy them :(

  40. moirrey says:

    I agree with Ina! Soapy and overpowering. It ruins everything that it’s in, and even smelling it makes me gag (especially if it’s in a steamy soup).

  41. Kath says:

    Coriander is the devil’s herb.

    • Sara says:

      Cilantro is the leaves, an herb. Coriander is the seeds, the spice.

      I’ve given up trying to grow it because as soon as summer comes, it bolts and you are done. It’s very hard to grow outside, and the home varieties are never as good as the commercial ones.

      You can reduce the soapy flavor a bit with long, slow cooking, and there’s really no substitute in Mexican cooking and many Asian and Indian dishes. If you don’t like the soapiness of the leaves, you can still get the flavor of the seeds by pan-roasting them Indian-style. Combining them with other spices also masks the soapiness, too. I used to hate the stuff but now use it a lot using Indian grinding and roasting techniques.

  42. Sparkly says:

    I can’t help but feel bad for people who taste cilantro like soap. It’s an integral part of my Best Salsa in the World. I’ve made it without before, and it just isn’t the same.

  43. TyrantDestroyed says:

    Now it makes sense why my mother loves cilantro with passion and being a very important element in our gastronomy she always has a hard time avoiding.
    My husband and I love to use it to enhance the flavor when cooking the appropriate dishes but in the other hand I have problems enjoying the taste of parsley I feel it takes over the dish and has a strong unpleasant flavor that I cannot describe.

  44. Sarah B says:

    “although I can only recall one pasta dish I’ve had where cilantro made a positive difference in my meal”

    Well, there’s your F-ing problem! Cilantro doesn’t belong in pasta dishes! It’s not an Italian herb. Cilantro belongs in South Asian dishes and Mexican dishes. It belongs in fresh salsas or on a bahn mi.

    And yes, there is a gene mutation that makes cilantro taste like soap for some people.

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