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cilantro, does it taste funny to you ?

  • m

has anybody else heard of cilantro just not tasting right. or should i say pleasant tasting. someone told me my taste buds regester it as something different than people that like the taste. what i taste just could not be a pleasant taste. i wish i liked it so ordering food was not any trouble. i get by fine but i think i miss out on some stuff because of it. ground corriander i have no problem with. thanks for any comments.


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  1. There are some people who register the taste of fresh cilantro as soapy. I guess you're one of them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Claire

      The first few times I had it (when we bought it accidentally, thinking it was parsley), it tasted soapy to me. I think I've trained myself to like it, because I use it all the time now. But I have heard that tasting cilantro is a genetic trait- either it tastes good or disgusting.

    2. It's a very intense flavor and people either love it or hate it.

      1. YES! I thought I was alone...I always try to order foods without the cilantro.

        1. Like other posters have said, I think you either love it or hate it. My sister and I grew up without cilantro (midwest), and now as adults I love it and she hates it.

          1. I usually can't stand cilantro, but I've had a couple of ceviches and a salsa where it was used very, very sparingly and made for a refreshing note in those dishes. I think a big problem may be that many cooks are just too heavy-handed with it and/or they don't use it with the right ingredients.

            5 Replies
            1. re: gina

              As some have noted, it usually tastes very soapy to me. It was the darling "in" herb with chefs for awhile who sprinkled it any-and-everywhere ruining some perfectly good food. I have come to like it in some foods, especially something really spicy where it can be very refreshing, and with Vietnamese dishes.

              1. re: Candy

                I think you are both right about using it with the right ingrediants. I was in the destest cilantro camp until a few years ago ... HATED it. I absolutely couldn't eat Mexican salsas that had even a bit of the stuff.

                Then I started eating Vietnames sandwiches. I alwways want to try 'authentic' versions of anything first, wo I went with the cilantro. I liked it. In fact I've built up some sort of cilantro tolerance so that I can enjoy it in anything. I even don't mind it straight up.

              2. re: gina

                I love cilantro and fall into the heavy handed group, but my SIL & BIL don't like it, unless used very lightly in a salsa. I refrain from fixing any asian dishes for them that call for its liberal use, however when it's cooked into a sauce even at the proportions I like they love it.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  Cooking it seems to help diminish the strength of the volatile oils that cause the taste sensation.

                  1. re: Karl S.

                    Wonder what those oils are, and if they're present in any other herbs/veggies?

              3. cilantro tastes funny to me too. I always order my food without it, but I want to like it. I will eat pretty much any other strong herbs, but I have an intense dislike of cilanto. Last week I was making a parsley vinaigrette to go over fish and the cilantro was mislabeled as parsley. That is the second time my grocery store has done that. I get in a hurry and don't take the time to do a smell test. Ugh. I couldn't get the taste out of my mouth!

                1. About 25% of people in the US are estimated to have a palate sensitivity to cilantro. IIRC, it's an enzyme-related bit of palate chemistry.

                  The strength of the sensitivity appears to vary, but it involves it tasty soapy. If the sensitivity is strong, it may annihilate most other tastes one would otherwise experience.

                  Anyway, it's a good reason to avoid serving cilantro to unknown guests without warning. The problem being that hosts who love cilantro assume everyone else does, and that people who don't are just fussy. It's more complicated than that.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Karl S.

                    Thank you! I really dislike it when people try to tell me that I don't enjoy cilantro because it's "intense," or because I just haven't eaten enough of it, or I'm just picky. It IS so much more complicated than that.

                    Waiters are always so surprised and argumentative ("Have you had it before? How could you not like it? But it's so refreshing!") when I ask for a dish without cilantro that I've taken to telling them I'm allergic.

                    1. re: Lauren

                      I am so glad to read this thread. I HATE cilantro. Thought I was the only one.

                      1. re: Lauren

                        Have to admit, always told the hubby it was his undeveloped tastebuds. I owe him a big apology. Thanks for the insight, everyone.

                        1. re: Lauren

                          i understand your aversion and the difficulty in getting waitstaff to comply, but please do not claim an allergy where none exists. i know it's the easy way out, but, in the long run, it makes life much harder on those who really do have food allergies.

                          1. re: mark


                            It's not an allergy. It's a palate sensitivity. Which is something more objective than mere preference.

                      2. I always heard it was a genetic thing, to most people it tastes good, but to some people, it tastes like soap. I'm one of the ones who tastes soap when they eat cilantro, I can't stand it! I order food without it if I can, or I pick it out of things.

                        1. It doesn't taste funny to me - I like it - but I have a friend who hates it. She says it tastes "metallic." I read the posts from people who think it tastes "soapy," but does anyone else think it tastes metallic?

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: phoebe

                            Yeah, that's it. When I couldn't eat it, it never tasted soapy to me but had that sharp metallic taste.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I have a friend who took her M-I-L to a Thai restaurant where cilantro was a major flavor feature, she (the M-I-L) questioned my friend about what the herb was that tasted like a fart.

                              1. re: Candy

                                You win.

                                My sides hurt from laffin'.

                                I don't want to know how she knows that.

                                1. re: Phoebe

                                  Well, farts have been the butt of jokes for eons. (sorry)
                                  But yes, how was the MIL able to discern that particular nuance?

                                  1. re: PolarBear

                                    That was quite disgusting an unnecessary.


                                  2. re: Phoebe

                                    I didn't either, but it sure was a unique description

                                    1. re: Phoebe
                                      1 wiener hound

                                      I guess you have never been in a just cleaned deep water diving suit.

                                    2. re: Candy

                                      I have an aversion not just a dislike for it, and I'll just add that for me, it tastes like a soapy, metalic fart.

                                    3. re: rworange

                                      I am so glad to hear this response. I haven't tried Cilantro but years I've wondered wht I am the only one in my whole family who does not like fish. To me fish tastes "Metallic" I don't feel like such a freak now!

                                  3. I did not like cilantro at first taste....but could stand a little bit in the right things where it is balanced by other flavors. Over time I have grown to enjoy it more, but there is still a "too much" cilantro for me, especially raw. When I lived in Thailand our cook would put cilantro in everything, in cheese omelet and in tuna salad. I may have a sensitive to cilantro gene, because my Mother gets quite sick, stomach cramps , if she eats even a little raw cilantro. But I guess I have re-programmed it a bit.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ciaolette

                                      I love cilantro. I use half a bunch when a recipe calls for a tablespoon. But I understand how it's different from other flavors, and very difficult for some people to appreciate. It's not so much a taste as it is, for lack of a better description, a way of breathing.

                                    2. A friend of mine hates it too, says it tastes like soap to him.

                                      1. I feel so much better now that I've read this thread! I HATE CILANTRO! There... I said it! I always felt like I couldn't tell people that I didn't like it, because they would think I was unrefined! I have another one to admit too... I HATE FENNEL!!!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Katie Nell
                                          ShanAgain (formerly posting as Shan - til I noticed another "Shan" posting)

                                          I hate fennel as well.

                                          I've always felt that cilantro had a "pleasant but soapy" taste - which begs the question... WTH is wrong with me that I'd even form that comparison? I don't think I had my mouth washed out more than once in my life. ;-)

                                        2. Someone needs to delve more deeply into the physiology of taste than Brillat-Savarin did - I'm fascinated by how complex the whole thing is, and how closely tied to smell. The "flavor" of any food is hardly ever a single taste or smell, like a single note, but more like a chord, and how we hear that chord depends on how sensitive our various receptors are.

                                          For the record, I found my first taste of cilantro not pleasing, and, yes, soapy, but the chicken enchiladas were otherwise wonderful. By the time I was halfway through my first helping, I had acquired the taste, and at the end of the meal decided I really liked it. I'm just lucky that way.

                                          1. Just curious as to how those of you who find it unpleasant (soapy, etc) feel about its aroma?

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: PolarBear

                                              To be honest, it makes me gag, if it smells overwhelmingly of cilantro. To me, it kind of smells like smelly feet! But, I've been told I have a weird way of describing smells... I also think green peppers smell like body odor!

                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                I've always though papayas smelled/tasted a bit, well, fleshy, really. Not in a bad way, not overpoweringly, but distinctly human.

                                                And I can take cilantro in small quantities, where the dissonance adds to the effect of the dish, but cilantro in any quantity is pretty gross. And I don't like the smell much either.

                                              2. re: PolarBear

                                                The problem with that question is that, while the smell issue may be separable for someone who has yet to taste cilantro, once they do, the smell gets associated with the taste in a complex brain fusion, as you may know from the interrelationship of the two senses.

                                                The more interesting question would be if someone completely lost the sense of taste whether they gradually lost the smell association.

                                                1. re: Karl S.

                                                  That's a good point, Karl. Immediately after posting this I had a suspicion that the aroma might evoke a negative reaction if the taste is unpleasant and it would probably be unlikely that one could recall how they felt about the smell before their first taste.

                                                  A few people have posted about originally having an aversion but learning over time to like it, wonder if they experienced an aromatic shift as well?

                                                  1. re: PolarBear

                                                    I think the aroma and flavor of something like this are inextricably intertwined - if you had no sense of smell, you probably couldn't tell cilantro from chickweed.

                                                    My wife likes cilantro in small quantities as an ingredient, but when she's been picking the flowering tops off ours she has to wash her hands right away. I, OTOH, love the smell - I'd rather have that on my hands than some salesman's cologne (another topic...).

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      "I think the aroma and flavor of something like this are inextricably intertwined - if you had no sense of smell, you probably couldn't tell cilantro from chickweed."

                                                      I used to think that too (that smell and taste are intrinsically part of the same function, loss of one would diminish the other) but my coworker, whose taste and opinion I respect greatly, has no sense of smell at all.

                                                      To answer the question, I don't find cilantro smell objectionable as I do the taste. I think it has more to do with that particular set of taste buds (I'm sure that's not quite the right scientific way to state that), but I haven't thought about it enough. When I'm shopping for cilantro, I smell it. I like a nice full fragrance. I don't want to cheat the people I'm shopping for.

                                              3. Look, no one should have to eat something they hate, something to which they have "palate sensitivity." But is there no such thing as an acquired taste? I didn't like fish sauce, coffee or whiskey the first time I tasted those things. If a restaurant all of a sudden started putting these things in their dishes in a very assertive way--e.g., garnishing a plate with an ounce of them--people who don't like them would rightly be annoyed. It's not that long ago that Americans considered garlic to be very "ethnic" and found its flavor to be incredibly strong and quite offensive. Tastes change over time as people's experiences change. This is why food history is so interesting, why old cookbooks are full of recipes that look crazy. I hope that some of the cilantro-haters might someday acquire a taste for the herb that is undoubtedly eaten more widely worldwide than any other. By the way, I love the stuff but certainly not in big raw mouthfuls.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: mzn


                                                  Yes, there is such a thing as an acquired taste. However, I believe the point of this thread is to explore the validity of biological aversions to certain foods or ingredients.

                                                  I've eaten cilantro and ginger, and consumed beer, wine and alcohol for my entire life. The taste *never* changes. They are all disproportionally unpleasant.

                                                  After a while you discover a mass of people who share that peculiarity. (This isn't the first time this thread has been on Chowhound regarding cilantro).

                                                  I personally recognize the place these ingredients have in today's cuisine. I still eat and drink them, as I mentioned in the post I linked below. But while there is an evolving culture of taste and cuisine, there is a static science of taste which folks like me, who are affected and have a passion for the intricacies of food, like to discuss and explore.

                                                  Food for thought: consider those that are deaf to certain music tones, those that are color blind to a single color, or those with sensitivities to certain smells. Few would suggest those people could acquire or "normalize" those senses.

                                                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                  1. re: mzn

                                                    I think the point of this thread was not to criticize people for a dislike of a certain flavor, but to find out why they dislike it. No, I don't particularly care for cilantro, especially as an ingredient. But that doesn't mean that I won't eat something with cilantro in it. And that doesn't mean I won't cook with it... my mom loves cilantro, and I would never deny her this when I cook for her.

                                                  2. As I said previously I have come to accept cilantro in some foods but what I truly find obnoxious in the herbs is dried tarragon. Fresh is something else and lovely and I can tell the difference right away say in something like bernaise sauce. I'm not really crazy about tarragon vinegar either. Fennel I rarely buy on purpose but I was reading an Ina Garten recipe for cooked fennel and may try that.

                                                    1. My sister says that cilantro smells like cockroaches and that's why she can't stand it. I have no idea what a cockroach would smell like, who does? I just poke fun at her and tell her she's not Vietnamese (we are).

                                                      1. I'm not wild about cilantro, but I can handle it if it is used sparingly. Unfortunately, cilantro seems to have inavaded the Tex-Mex scene sometime in the 90s, and now it's hard to get away from the stuff unless you go to a traditional joint that has been around for ages.