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Quick Cilantro Tasting Question - what percentage taste soap?

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  • peg Apr 11, 2006 07:42 PM
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I perused the lengthy threads, but didn't find any approximate percentage of those unfortunate folks who can't taste the bright sharp flavor, and instead taste LifeBuoy...a person I know on another board asked, since he's a Soap Guy. He'd never heard this before, and thought it a revelation.

Any more-or-less hard numbers, or just an anecdotal 15% - 20%?

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  1. The first time I had a salsa with cilantro in it, I had no idea what it was and thought they had spilled Ivory liquid in it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: loveskittles

      Both soap and cilantro contain the powerful fragrance linalool. See below.

      The selective hypersensitivity to the smell may be genetic-based. Smell hypersensitivities often are.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        maria lorraine's objective post is all we need to know really. It tastes like soap because it has some of the same stuff in it that soap has. I love cilantro AND I recognize the soapy taste/fragrance. I appreciate complexity that the herb brings to a dish when it is used judiciously. Its just like a classic gewurzstraminer where the soapy nose/flavour is sought after. I wouldn't enjoy chomping on a bar of Irish Springs though.

        1. re: haggisdragon

          Agreed! I thought I was the only one who tasted the soapiness in cilantro and had learned to love it. (It did take a bit of effort, but now I'm quite a fan.)

    2. Soap to me unless the food is really really spicy, then I can appreciate it. I will never forget the time in the 80's when cilantro was the darling herb of all of the young chefs. We were at the Lake Placid Lodge having lunch on the deck and I ordered gaspacho which was loaded with the nasty stuff. I was totally ruined. Of course if the gaspacho was a Mexican dish it might have belonged, but being Spanish it was totally wrong. Ruined the whole lunch for me. I could not get that taste out of my mouth

      10 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        I couldn't agree more. When I read some of the comments of these "food writer wanna-bes" in all their gushiness about its delicasy, the complexity it brings to a dish, how lovely it augers so well with so many different cuisines...

        The bottom line is that to a great many people IT TASTES LIKE SOAP! ! ! So, would it be toooooo much to ask that those who submit recipes with this noxious weed PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE offer a substitute or just simply leave it out all together.

        1. re: bob3443

          "those who submit recipes with this noxious weed PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE offer a substitute or just simply leave it out all together..."

          Hi bob3443, let me help you out: you simply leave it out of recipes when you see it. That was easy wasn't it!

          1. re: mrsmashy

            Clearly you miss the point. You simply can not leave out an ingredient and expect the dish to still have a flavor intended. While half the people who use cilantro think it tastes great,the other half of the population with far more sophisticated palates, detect a very definite taste of soap. This fact is irrefutable in that cilantro does have some type of chemical compound that is associated with the "taste" or flavor" of soap.

            My main issue is that, those who write recipes, know many people do have an aversion to cilantro. All I ask is that they show the courtesy of offering an acceptable substitute to the 50% of the people who find cilantro to be distasteful.

            Robert Hayes Halfpenny

            1. re: bob3443

              The perception of soapiness in cilantro has nothing to do with a "sophisticated palate."

              Perception of soapiness in cilantro is genetically based, due to a specific genetic sequence that encodes for an olfactory receptor.

              A Genetic Variant Near Olfactory Receptor Genes Influences Cilantro Preference
              " We find a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) significantly associated with soapy-taste detection that is confirmed in the cilantro preference group. This SNP
              ...lies within a cluster of olfactory receptor genes on chromosome 11. These results confirm that there is a genetic component to cilantro taste perception and suggest that cilantro dislike may stem from genetic variants in olfactory receptors."
              http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.2096

              Soapy Taste of Coriander Linked to Genetic Variants
              "A genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people...has identified two genetic variants linked to perception of coriander, the most common of which is in a gene involved in sensing smells."
              http://www.nature.com/news/soapy-tast...

              Many hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities in flavor and aroma perception are the result of specific genetic sequences.

              Your implication that one's palate is more sophisticated, or that possibly a person has increased perception skills in general, if they can detect a soapy smell, is entirely inaccurate.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                This is interesting. I think it is funny how we describe the taste of food using scent rather than actual taste. Saying a food tastes like "a cleaning product" or "perfume" or "soap" isn't really accurate, because smell and taste are proven to be distinct. Furthermore it is known that what we call the "flavor" of something is a combination of taste, smell, texture and temperature and perhaps even visual. So the research you have cited above indeed reveals the key. In the case of cilantro, it seems clear that the dominant sense is the persons's smell rather than taste, thus sensory confusion ensues. The smell over-powers the taste, and causes the aversion - yet the person assumes it is the "taste."

                1. re: MaxSeven

                  You're a bit incorrect about the perception of flavor by the brain. Both smell and taste information merge in a complex interface before being processed by the brain's flavor perception region. Scent comes to the brain from both the back of the mouth and through the nose and is combined with taste receptor, temperature and texture info when being processed.

                  Bear in mind that things like soap or soapiness are not scent only, but both scent and taste. We can taste soap left on dishes, right?

                  The soapiness in cilantro is a specific molecule, a numbered aldehyde, that has both a flavor and a smell. Right now, what we know is that when people perceive soapiness in cilantro, they have a specific genetic sequence that allows them to smell that soapy molecule.

                  The perception of a soapy TASTE in cilantro is probably *also* the result of a specific genetic sequence some people have, just as is the perception of many individual bitter tastes. That's where I'd put my money, and where I'd bet the science is heading.

                  This doesn't mean the person who smells or tastes soapiness in cilantro smells or tastes with any more acuity or perception than other people, only that they have genetic sensitivity to this individual soapy cilantro taste/aroma.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    No, the molecules are still being received by distinct sensory functions of the human body - how the brain interprets this what causes the aversion.

                    As for the descriptions - I am referring to the language being used. People often use smells to describe taste, which to me, is rather humorous. The actual taste of soap, is very different from that of cilantro. Pinch your nose closed and try taking a taste of dish soap and then a cilantro leaf - compare. No similarity.

                    1. re: MaxSeven

                      <<No, the molecules are still being received by distinct sensory functions of the human body>>

                      That is misleading when we are talking about the perception of smell and taste.

                      Taste neurons interface with olfactory information in the brain's orbitofrontal cortex. This information is then sent on to the rostral insula in the brain for interpretation.

                      <<Pinch your nose closed and try taking a taste of dish soap and then a cilantro leaf - compare. No similarity.>>

                      Your comparison of dish soap and a cilantro leaf is not apt because of the enormous difference of degree. We are not talking about soap per se, but soapiness and infinite gradations of soapiness. Dish soap is soapiness of an extreme magnitude; the degree of soapiness in a leaf of cilantro is far, far subtler.

          2. re: bob3443

            tried culantro? same problem?

            1. re: bob3443

              As I noted 4 years ago below, the best non-parsley substitute for cilantro is celery leaves.

          3. No soap (radio) for me - I love the stuff. But I've never seen a percentage for the cilantro-as-soap tastebud.

            Anne

            2 Replies
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              I haven't heard someone use the punchline "no soap, radio" (other than myself) in at least 30 years. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Where did you first hear it?

              I transitioned from tasting the soap to not. So now I adore cilantro.

              1. re: Steve S.

                I've spent a lifetime absorbing trivia, so I can't remember when I first heard it. But now I simply can't use the phrase "no soap" without adding "radio".

                It's the first time I've used this phrase to describe how cilantro tastes to me, though!

                Anne

            2. 70% love cilantro. The remaining 30% [clearly the minority] have malfunctioning tastebuds. The variance is ±7%.

              23 Replies
              1. re: The Ranger

                You know, I don't know if you just made this up, but this is about what I found googling. There are no real scientific facts, just a few references.

                And the other theory is what you said ... malfunctioning tastebuds ... supposedly some people have a genetic problem with cilantro and usually based on race with Europeans being the most likely to carry the gene that makes cilantro taste bad.

                This was the most credible report on that (scroll down):

                http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/C...

                This was just a fun cilantro fact site that I came across

                http://www.selfsufficientish.com/cori...

                The only statistics were pie graphs from a site on what cilantro tastes like

                Link: http://www.ihatecilantro.com/stats.php

                1. re: rworane

                  OMG - I am speechless. Thanks to both of you for the stats (made up or not!).

                  1. re: rworane

                    Found the site below where people can vote if they like cilantro or not. The results so far with a limited audiance is

                    43% - Like it
                    57% - Hate it

                    I think beside the limited sampling, the cilantro haters are a lot more vocal and passionate, so the results might be skewed in that sense.

                    You don't see the results until you vote.

                    Also, found an actual study about cilantro and genetics.

                    It studied "the ability to taste PTC and a preference for or against cilantro flavor"

                    The results were:

                    "Contrary to our hypothesis there does not seem to be a strong polarity in cilantro taste preference. And while the pedigrees do not illustrate a clear genetic mechanism to tasting cilantro they do show that attributing a bitter flavor to cilantro seems directly inherited."

                    Scroll down or do a find for 'cilantro'

                    http://www.doane.edu/Dept_pages/phy/m...

                    Link: http://www.qsample.com/micropoll/the-...

                    1. re: rworange

                      Thanks. That's pretty much what I was looking for.

                      With other herbs that some people seem to strongly dislike - fennel seed, tarragon, lavender - there is a common denominator. Lavender is too strong and sort of musty-tasting, reminiscent of Grandma's linen closet, and those who hate licorice usually hate fennel seed and tarragon, as well, for obvious reasons. But cilantro? Not at all the same.

                      Thanks to all for your heartfelt responses and input. I think this is genuinely fascinating!

                      1. re: peg

                        Interesting, because as an aside, I can't STAND tarragon, but love licorice and fennel seed...morover, I don't think tarragon tastes at all like the other two, so am scratching my head at the statement 'for obvious reasons'. I am assuming they are related, but never realized that before seeing this post (?)

                        of course, hubby claims the only reason I hate tarragon is that some places got into using way too much of it in years past...but that's another story...

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          I agree completely. Tarragon tastes terrible to me, but licorice and fennel are some of my favorite flavors. I cannot stand anything flavored with or smelling of lavender, though.

                          1. re: Snackish

                            since this thread has been bumped anyway, let me say: lavender. yuck. IMO it isn't a food (though I don't mind lavender scented soap).

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              So no Herbs de Provence for you, susan? I agree it can be *very* strong on its own and has to be used very judiciously, but I do like a bit of lavender in an Herbs de Provence blend.

                          2. re: susancinsf
                            j
                            janet of reno

                            I don't think your hubbie's theory is totally right. After all, I can't stand tarragon either. Never have liked it. There has to be something genetic going on there; our mother certainly never used it in cooking so you can't say its nurture. (For those who are scratching their head at this, Susan is my natural clone, ie my identical twin). And yes, I do like anise and licorice and fennel seed.

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              Tarragon definitely tastes licorice-like to me: like a combination of anise and fresh-mown grass. I like the licorice/fennel/anise family but only in small doses. You're right that tarragon when overused can be unpleasant -- all of those substances can be overpowering if not used judiciously.

                              I'm on the "love it" side with cilantro, but my Dad has the "tastes like soap" reaction. I can actually perceive the soap flavor faintly, but not enough for it to be unpleasant.

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                Tarragon absolutely tastes like black licorice to me, and somewhat similar to fennel and anise, although more subdued and "dusty", for lack of a better word. I love all three.

                                Lavender, on the other hand, is revolting, as is chamomile. Ick.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  I have a family member who claims to HATE tarragon, yet has been raving over my tarragon salad dressing for 30 years - !?!?!?

                                2. re: peg

                                  Wow, never noticed a connection between fennel seed/ tarragon licorice and lavender. I hate them all. Although I am tolerant of some fennel seed in sausage as long as I don't bite into a seed. I also can't stand star anise.

                                  I also thought I was the only one that thinks cilantro tastes like soap. I don't hate it, but I can live without it.

                                  1. re: MrsT

                                    Not soap, moth balls. Definitely smells and tastes like moth balls.

                                  2. re: peg

                                    Tarragon? Are you possibly thinking of anise or star anise? I don't believe I have ever heard anyone discribe tarragon as being liquorice like in taste.

                                    1. re: bob3443

                                      Tarragon tastes like liquorice to me, I hate it.

                                      1. re: eastofnevada

                                        Tarragon is mildly licorice to me - and is usually described as such. I don't really care for licorice, but I do like tarragon.

                                  3. re: rworange

                                    Of course people who don't like cilantro are more likely to vote--its an interesting issue to them.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Sure, this poll is fraught with type # 2 statistical error- human error- but fun, nevertheless.
                                      And when the little people in your surroundings use off-color language, you can be green and P.C. by telling them that next time you will wash their mouth out with cilantro :)

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        I err on the side of cilantro. I'll defend it's worthiness and protect it's rightful regal station, until my final utterance, which will not be "Rosebud", but will be "Cilantro".

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          your final utterance will be "cilantro"? that's hardcore.
                                          then again, i've been known to eat basil sandwiches.

                                3. re: The Ranger

                                  I can not argue with your numbers, but I do take umbridge as to your statement that we have malfunctioning tastebuds. I have been in the hotel and restaurant business for better than half a century and I assure that my tastebuds are as acurate today as they were when I first started out in my field of endevour.

                                  1. re: bob3443

                                    My taste buds are well refined and I quite the foodie and is will to try anything at least once
                                    but the first time and the most resent time I had cilantro it tastes Like dish soap has been copiously poured on it.
                                    But it kind of rude to call it a defect as everyone has foods that they dislike at various levels from Hate to minor dislike and can be from taste to texture as I love coconut in Pinna coladas and but hate it shredded due to texture but love coconut shrimp as deep frying changes the texture.
                                    Some food genes are possible just like the extreme which are food allergies as I got two generically odd traits which is I we are allergic to rice but no other grain and my HDL/LDL is totally out of whack in my family as the HDL(good cholesterol) is very high and the LDL is very low even though I go through 2 pounds of butter a month and lot of meat and potatoes and chesses as well

                                4. Soap first time I tasted it, then slid gracefully into what I taste now. Initial dislike, followed by interest, then delight.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    Amen. I always feel like I'm missing out on something when I don't like it at first. So I have to keep going back until I get it.

                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Initial soap, now love!

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        what Will said.

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Ditto.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Same here. I didn't realize there were quite a few others who felt the same way. I still get a bit of a soapy taste, but I've learned to pick out other flavours in it and I l love it.

                                            Then again, I adore Kava, which tastes quite soapy, too.

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              This has been my experience also, which to me suggests that the genetic thing isn't the whole story.

                                              1. re: loraxc

                                                Maybe for some, but not everyone. Always soap, for decades...

                                              2. re: Will Owen

                                                Same as Will here, too.

                                              3. Love it, love it, love it!

                                                1. a vote for soap...

                                                  1. Love cilantro; suprised to find someone who remembers LifeBuoy!
                                                    Bob

                                                    1. Wow! This is big news to me. I have heard of other foods, and I can't remember what they are, can anyone else(?), where a certain percentage of people taste one flavor and others taste something different. Cilantro creeps me out big time. It especially bugs me how it seems to be constantly dragged into schizophrenic fusion concoctions with other trendy incongruous ingredients. I like it in a nice pico de gallo salsa cruda with jalapenos, lime juice, tomatoes and onion - but that is the ONLY thing it should ever be used for! There oughta be a law.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                        I think ginger is another one... it also tastes like soap to me.

                                                        1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                          I've heard that red food dye is one of the ones some people can taste and others can't. For me, red frostings, etc. have a very bitter taste. But I love cilantro! One thing I don't care for very much is saffron. It tastes just like bleach to me.

                                                        2. Funny. My ex insisted that cilantro tasted like soap, and refused to eat Mexican food of any type, in any restaurant. He went so far as to insist that people who liked cilantro had malfunctioning tastebuds, instead of the other way around.

                                                          I still love cilantro. Ole'!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Rose

                                                            Though I doubt that the Cilantro controversy had anything to do with the fact that he's an ex-boyfriend, one of the things that bugs me about my current boyfriend (whom I love dearly) is is aversion to cilantro.... and his entire family's aversion to it. I guess I'm a little less hound-y and a little more snobby than I'd like.

                                                            1. re: CulinaryKate

                                                              I wouldn't call it snobby. My bf's the same way, and it's just a royal pain to leave it out of the cooking process and always have it on the side. It's one of the few things he won't eat.

                                                          2. I once mistakenly bought cilantro, thinking it was flat leaf parsley and used it in chicken soup I made from scratch, meaning I made my own broth and made soup from that. Had to throw the entire pot out because of the soapy taste. Expensive lesson learned.

                                                            1. Another soapy mouthful...

                                                              1. Soapy taste here. Same for my husband.

                                                                1. Soap! I've tried so hard to get over it, and the few posters who mentioned having hated it at first and now love it have given me hope. I don't mind it in Indian cilantro chutney, not quite sure why.

                                                                  1. Ex-BF and I used to joke that it tasted like dirty socks which was a problem living in L.A. where it was so prevalent. Had no idea others had the same problem with the taste not being right.

                                                                    1. soap, fiance and his family taste the dirty socks.

                                                                      1. I love the stuff (though didn't at first, but I was 12... 12 year olds rarely like good things). The head chef at a fairly well acclaimed restaurant I used to work in thought the stuff tasted like soap... so I guess even the best of us have our downfalls.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: CulinaryKate
                                                                          c
                                                                          Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          Hey, don't blame the chef - it's genetic.

                                                                        2. Hmm, non-soapy here, love cilantro. However my friend swears sushi ginger tastes exactly like soap to her and hates the stuff. Works great for me, I love ginger and eat mine and hers as well.

                                                                          Is there something to this? Are there more foods that bring up the "soapy taste" to some people?

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Rosie Posie

                                                                            I experience the soapy ginger taste, too, in sushi restaurants!

                                                                            1. re: Karen

                                                                              Another vote for soapy ginger... and as a side note, the blue SweeTTarts are also ginger flavored and taste like soap!

                                                                            2. re: Rosie Posie

                                                                              The pickled ginger in sushi restos tastes like soap to me. Not fresh ginger, though, and I adore cilantro.

                                                                              1. re: Rosie Posie

                                                                                Lavender tastes like soap to me, but that might be because I sometimes use lavender-scented soap...

                                                                                Anne

                                                                                1. re: Rosie Posie

                                                                                  No, no, sushi ginger tastes like air freshener!

                                                                                  1. re: BW

                                                                                    I agree, pickled ginger tastes like perfume to me.

                                                                                    1. re: LaurCar

                                                                                      Thirded.

                                                                                      I'm having an incredibly hard time imagining tasting soap when eating ginger, fresh or pickled.

                                                                                2. 2 more "love it" here - my husband and I really love the flavor from the first time we tried it, neither of us ever thought it "soapy". I go totally overboard with it sometimes if I'm only cooking for the two of us. Others in our families tend to agree with the unusual taste aspect of it.

                                                                                  Laurie

                                                                                  1. To me, the only taste worse than the soapiness of cilantro is the metallic "clang" of bleu cheese. I wonder how many of the cilantro-haters feel this way. Art

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Vero Art

                                                                                      Hate cilantro, LOVE blue cheese. Cilantro is the only food item I've come across (other than raw onions, but that's not a genetic thing) that I have such a visceral and strong reaction to.

                                                                                      1. re: Vero Art

                                                                                        I can deal with cilantro in salsa as long as it's not in huge pieces, but blue cheese is one thing I absolutely cannot eat. It just tastes like mold to me and is probably the one thing I have to spit out if I accidentally eat it. The first time I ever had it was at a work luncheon where the salads came predressed and I thought it was ranch and took a bite. I honestly thought there had to be soap on the greens or plate.

                                                                                        1. re: gmm

                                                                                          Cilantro still tastes very much like soap to me even though I be exposed to it for 40 years but it alone as I love most other food incuding fennal taragon blue chesse

                                                                                          1. re: magnusfl

                                                                                            Yes it does taste like soap to me too, and I for some reason love it. It brings back so many memories....

                                                                                        2. re: Vero Art

                                                                                          LOVE cilantro, hate old mildewy bleu cheese.

                                                                                        3. For me, it is the worst tasting stuff I have ever eaten. And there are few foods I don't like or won't eat. I'm inclined to say it tastes like s**t but I have never partaken.

                                                                                          Just a tiny sprig of it in something makes me want to heave. I can't see how anyone likes this stuff, but I'd love to know what cilantro tastes like to those who have "the right stuff" for enjoying cilantro...

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                                                            I was thinking about that and most web sites say that cilantro tastes like a mix of parsley and citrus.

                                                                                            At first the citrus reference seemed wrong, but I think that description is right on. It is not as strong a flavor as parsley ... maybe closer to Italian parsley and it does have a lemon/lime note to it. It tastes fresh, which means nothing, but it has a brigher flavor.

                                                                                            Someone mentioned that they hate cilantro except in a chutney. I say go with that and it will up your tolerance to cilantro.

                                                                                            I was strongly in the hate camp until I got hooked on bahn mi. For some reason, loved it in the Vietnamese sandwiches. Maybe the combination with the other ingrediants. Until then, it tasted like metal to me. Now I love the stuff and could eat it straight.

                                                                                            My own theory is there is some sort of immunity built up rather than genetics. It is like getting a flu vaccine. You build up tolerance. The 'genetically' pre-disposed to hating it seems to apply to cultures that don't normally incorporate cilantro in their traditional dishes. Being of Polish ancestry, my people don't know nothing about no cilantro.

                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                              My ancestry is Swedish and German; I have never had to acquire a taste for it. It doesn't taste at all metallic or soapy to me. My SO is of German ancestry, and doesn't eat much Mexican, Thai, or Vietnamese food, certainly not nearly enough to develop a tolerance for it; he evidently tastes it exactly as I do.

                                                                                              To the poster who wistfully asked what it tastes like to those without the genetic marker: it has a bright and savory flavor, rich, slightly sharp, slightly reminiscent of parsley but not nearly as bitter, with a subtle undertone or orange or tangerine (not lemon or lime-y). The citrus note seems much more prevalent in the home-grown stuff, so it may be something that dissipates with storage.

                                                                                              1. re: peg

                                                                                                I'm amazed to hear people describe cilantro as being less flavourful in many ways to parsley. Both my husband and I have talked about parsley and neither one of us finds that it has virtually any flavour at all, and certainly nowhere near as much as cilantro.

                                                                                                1. re: vorpal

                                                                                                  hmm... to me parsley (fresh) is a very brash thing that goes well with very few things.
                                                                                                  Cilantro is the herb of the gods.

                                                                                              2. re: rworange

                                                                                                Hold on rw, you just got me thinking. Isn't cilantro the leaf of the coriander plant? And don't we Eastern European types use a lot of coriander seed - like in pickling? (for cucumber pickles and corned beef) So how come our ancestors never incorporated the leaves into the cuisine if they obviously had access to them?

                                                                                                1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                                                                  coriander seed travels well along the spice road. ... dunno if they actually grew it there, then or now.

                                                                                              3. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                                                                I've said that cilantro is not so much a taste as "a way of breathing." Very hard to describe, but I love it and I don't think any other food is quite like it.

                                                                                              4. Cilantro tasted *very* strongly of soap to me until my mid-20s or so. I didn't know anybody else tasted it that way, but when I asked around I was told it was genetic, so I thought I was stuck hating it. But in experimenting with various foods I couldn't completely avoid it. Gradually it started tasting just bland to me, so I stopped avoiding foods that had it, and then it started tasting good. Now I *love* it. It tastes bright and zingy to me, and I experiment with replacing it for parsley in almost any recipe.

                                                                                                A number of others have also posted that they are former soap-tasters, so I know I'm not the only one. Of course, this would suggest that it's NOT genetic.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Joy

                                                                                                  "A number of others have also posted that they are former soap-tasters, so I know I'm not the only one. Of course, this would suggest that it's NOT genetic"

                                                                                                  That's what I was going to say! If we can grow out of it, it can't be genetic. I agree with the flu vaccine theory. With increased exposure, people (like me) can grow to love cilantro with anything. Of course, there are people with compromised immune systems who could die after getting a flu vaccine. I'm just so happy I'm not one of the haters anymore!

                                                                                                2. Not quite soap for me, but somewhere between "medicinal and metallic." I've been working on it, tho, and large bowls of pho with gradual infusions of fresh cilantro (always removed before eating) seem to finally be working.

                                                                                                  1. I think everyone has certain flavours they just can't stomach. Mine's the combination of allspice, nutmeg and pumpkin pie.

                                                                                                    I don't see why some of this can't be genetic-based. Research has been done into asparagus and the 'smelly pee' phenomenon it triggers. It found that only some people actually produced this scent after eating asparagus, and only some people were capable of smelling the odour. So if you think your pee smells funny after eating asparagus, you are not only capable of producing the scent, but unfortunately able to smell it, too.

                                                                                                    Funny things, genes...

                                                                                                    1. I did a google search for: cilantro + chemical + composition
                                                                                                      and came across a list at

                                                                                                      http://www.botanical-online.com/medic...

                                                                                                      Then did a google search for each acid and oil with + soap

                                                                                                      Here are the results
                                                                                                      ---------------------
                                                                                                      Components:

                                                                                                      Acids:

                                                                                                      - linoleic, - antiarthritic, hepatoprotective, anticancerigenous, hypocholesterolemic.
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - oleic - anticancerigenous, hypocholesterolemic., antialopecic.
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - palmitic - hypocholesterolemic, antioxidant, antialopecic
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - stearic - hypocholesterolemic (Fruits
                                                                                                      )>>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - petroselinic
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - ascorbic - antibacterial, antiulceric, antiatherosclerotic, antihypertensive, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antiscorbutic, hypocholesterolemic, anticold, antitumoral, vulnerary.( Leaves
                                                                                                      )>>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      Essential oil, rich in:

                                                                                                      - Cineole: antibacterial, anti- rheumatic, antiseptic, antiulceric, choleretic
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Borneol: antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, hepatoprotective.
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Camphene: antioxidant, expectorant
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Citronelol: antiseptic
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Coriandrol: anticonvulsant
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Geraniol: anticancerigenous, expectorant, antiseptic, antimelanomic, antispasmodic..
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Limonene: antibacterial, anticancerigenous, antiespasmodic, expectorant.
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Linalool: anticancerigenous, antiespasmodic, antihistaminic, hypnotic.
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Alpha-pinene: antibacterial, antiinflammatory, expectorant, anticancerigenous.
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Beta-pinene: antiinflammatory, antispasmodic
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      - Beta-phelandrene: fungicide
                                                                                                      >>>http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                      ----

                                                                                                      EVERYTHING in Cilantro is used to make soap!

                                                                                                      1. I have a really good sense of taste. I do taste the similarities between soap and cilantro. I would describe cilantro as very fresh tasting. It is no way as unpleasant as soap, and I can neither eat asian food nor mexican food without it.

                                                                                                        1. LoL
                                                                                                          It took me years to discover that certain restaurants really did rinse their dishes after washing. I bad mouthed quite a few places and told some managers that they needed make sure their dishwashers rinsed ALL the soap off the dishes/containers.
                                                                                                          Then I had pho for the first time and discovered that the soap taste was actually cilantro.

                                                                                                          1. I always thought it tasted like Barbie Doll hair.
                                                                                                            A few years ago I finally "got it" and in the right foods, it adds something herby that I don't hate.

                                                                                                            1. My husband and I taste soap.

                                                                                                              1. I like Cilantro, but I do not like Tarragon.

                                                                                                                1. I am 99 & 44 one hundredths in favor of.....CILANTRO. I love it, the poor, persecuted, innocent, harmless, critical ingredient of Robert Lauriston's rice....
                                                                                                                  But here's an idea for the monitors when they encounter a poster using off-color language: tell them to go wash their mouths out with cilantro :)

                                                                                                                  1. i too had an initial distaste for it, but have grown to love it. occasionally my favorite local mexican joint will add a bit too much to the salsa and it gives everything a bit of a soapy taste, but generally speaking i think cilantro is a linchpin in mexican dips (salsa, guacamole, etc). a guacamole without cilantro is just an evil, evil dip.

                                                                                                                    1. I loathed it when I first had it.. it made me nauseated to smell it... then something happened.. one day I had some in particularly good salsa that a friend urged me to taste and I discovered that my loathing had turned to love.. there's two huge bunches of it in my fridge right now... there's never too much of it!

                                                                                                                      So there's hope for the haters.

                                                                                                                      1. To me, there's an anise-like taste to a spectrum running from parsley > tarragon > cilantro > fennel > licorice, and I loathe all of it. Love pickled ginger, though. Years ago, when I was introduced to Thai food, I discovered that I love canned jackfruit, although I'll admit it smells funny (you probably wouldn't ever try Thai food if you smelled a bottle of fish sauce first). I gave a can to a friend, and was both surprised and crushed when he found it sickening. Taste buds are quirky but we all know that WE have the right ones, no? Chacon a son gout! The very basic "supertaster" test is interesting. Mix a packet of saccharin into 2/3 cup of tepid water and taste. If it's very sweet, you are an undertaster (people with a sweet tooth). If it's a blend of sweet and bitter, you are an average taster and if it is bitter you are a supertaster who probably finds many sweet foods to be too sugary. Google "supertaster" for info on this.

                                                                                                                        1. I think it taste like soap.

                                                                                                                          Unless it's a minor player in a heavy hitting recipe, I cannot stand it. I always sub in parsley in my recipes.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: LaurCar

                                                                                                                            and, oddly, I loathe curly parsley (and the places that think I want it tossed chopped up all over the top of my food) -- it's too bitter. Italian Parsley is okay to me -- in specific dishes.

                                                                                                                            Fresh dill can be used as a "zing" herb to replace cilantro for those that really hate cilantro -- you won't get the same flavor, but you will get a zing of freshness that will compensate for the missing cilantro (i.e. in a freshly made salsa).

                                                                                                                            1. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                              go figure - my husband thinks I do a parsley overkill in many of my dishes. (I always use Italian Flat Leaf). He thinks parsley tastes bitter and really strong in amounts larger then a teaspoon finely chopped), while I think it tastes fresh and zingy.

                                                                                                                          2. About 25% is what I've read before. I am one of that 25%.

                                                                                                                            Anyway, the best non-parsley substitute for cilantro is celery leaves.

                                                                                                                            1. love cilantro - no soap taste to me - but I might call it a clean flavor.

                                                                                                                              1. Never soap, just fresh.

                                                                                                                                But the smell, the smell reminds me of when I was little and we were living in Seattle area, under the ferns is where I'd be playing, and I smell cilantro!

                                                                                                                                1. LOVE cilantro.

                                                                                                                                  The first time I heard someone say it tastes like soap, I thought they were crazy. I since learned, of course, that it tastes like that to some people. So interesting to me.

                                                                                                                                  1. How about "when I eat it or smell it, I get the same sensation as I do when I get chlorine up my nose?" I can't quite describe my strong aversion against it except that it's less taste (it probably tastes like soap, but I don't know, b/c my problem is that my aversion is much more visceral) and more a sensation I experience.

                                                                                                                                    It might be psychosomatic, but I am so sensitive to it that I have to pick out every single little shard that comes in Mexican, Indian, etc.

                                                                                                                                    As I posted somewhere, I have tried many times to get acclimated to this herb (b/c quite frankly, having this strong of an aversion is a royal pain in the ass. I can't eat salsa, for example), but every time, my nose starts to furl, I get that unpleasant chlorine-up-my-nose feeling, etc.

                                                                                                                                    I don't think I have an allergy to it, b/c coriander seed is totally fine. It's just the green stuff that I find absolutely vile.

                                                                                                                                    It is probably genetic, b/c my entire family hates it. In fact, 90 percent of my Japanese friends also detest it as much as I do, b/c I 've been in eating situations w/ a few of them, and they go through the same cilantro-picking-out ritual that I do, when the cooking staff don't bother listening to your instructions in which you mention cilantro in 10 different languages, just to cover your grounds. I found one person who is "indifferent" to it.

                                                                                                                                    Woe is I. . ..

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: anzu

                                                                                                                                      I love cilantro, but for me, saffron has that bleach-y quality. Just....not good. Very chlorine-scented. I have never met any one else with this aversion to saffron.

                                                                                                                                    2. Does anyone get the soap taste from foods other than cilantro? I have tried mango many, many times and no matter what, it tastes like soap to me.

                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: dorilou

                                                                                                                                        My grandmother always said coconut tasted like soap, and she had a fantastic palate. If this selective soapiness hypersensitivity is genetic -- and it is my belief that many hypersensitivities are -- it wasn't passed on to me: I love coconut! Bring on the macaroons!!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                          Coconut defiantly tastes like soap to me, and my mom feel that way, but my daughter loves coconut.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: dorilou

                                                                                                                                          Celery tastes like soap to me, as does cilantro. However, it's a mild soapy taste and doesn't bother me at all---I love cilantro--probably the smell more than the taste, even. It doesn't smell like soap to me, though.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Petrichor

                                                                                                                                            Interesting. My father is another "cilantro tastes like soap" person, and he also hates celery.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Petrichor

                                                                                                                                              Just an additional note....I also enjoyed the Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans--soap flavor.

                                                                                                                                          2. I'm in the soapy camp when it comes to cilantro. I can deal with minute amounts of it, but anything more...ick.

                                                                                                                                            Love lavender, tarragon, fennel seed in appropriate quantities...too much tarragon can be overpowering.

                                                                                                                                            1. I have a friend who, whenever someone said they didn't like cilantro, would say "oh, that's genetic." And I would always add, "no, whether it tastes like soap or not is genetic; whether you like it or not is a matter of taste." There seem to be a number of people here who get the soapy taste and still like cilantro, and I'm sure there must be people who don't perceive the soapy taste, but still don't like it.

                                                                                                                                              1. I don't taste soap. It's like a tangier version of parsley to me.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: mogo

                                                                                                                                                  Ivory Soap here!

                                                                                                                                                2. Cilantro doesn't taste like soap to me, although the first time I really came into contact with it, my friend had me chop up a whole bunch to use in salsa, and I couldn't get the smell off my hands and hated it...it took me a long time to recover from that, but now I love it. Green tic tacs, however (the dark green ones, not the light green) taste like soap. And lemony pastries and desserts usually make me think of dish detergent.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I taste soap, but I love cilantro.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I don't like cilantro. I'm not sure I would classify it as being soapy, but it's not something I like. I've also heard the "genetic" theory. Why do people who dislike a certain food need to be special? Why can't they just dislike a food and leave it at that?

                                                                                                                                                      (like Smittys, I've disliked it since I cooked with it for the first time and couldn't get rid of the smell on my hands)

                                                                                                                                                      That rant aside...Recently, I ate at a great taqueria and ordered fajitas. I was a little apprehensive when they arrived, loaded with cilantro. Still, I continued on. For some reason, they tasted delicious. Is it possible that when mixed with the right spices or flavors that the nasty taste some people notice goes away? Is it possible that when counter-balanced with the right flavors it's neutralized and that lots of American cooks who use cilantro simply don't know how to accomplish this?

                                                                                                                                                      1. Ah, you may be interested in this article today in the San Francisco Chronicle, on the
                                                                                                                                                        "International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste - a gathering in San Francisco of 1,000 leading international scientists who study these two mysterious and vital senses."
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                                                                                                                                        ----

                                                                                                                                                        "Leslie Vosshall, a researcher at Rockefeller University, noted that about 500 active human genes are associated with different olfactory receptors, specialized cells that provide signals for each note in our sense of smell. But individuals vary considerably in how they perceive the same odor - and those differences may be linked to which of these genes individuals carry. Individuals may differ in both how intensely an odor is perceived, and whether that odor is perceived as pleasant or awful.

                                                                                                                                                        Vosshall noted that some people perceive the smell of cilantro as "vile and soapy," while others sniffing the same scent describe it as "fresh and herbal."

                                                                                                                                                        -----

                                                                                                                                                        Write Vossholl at Rockefeller University for the precise cilantro statisitcs, if you want to chase the info that far.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Cilantro I guess is historically an Asian or Mexican type of ingredient--at least that is where I most often see its usage. Why it should appear in very other cuisine makes no sense at all. I have cookbooks that are up to 150 years old and in none of them have I ever found cilantro as an ingredient. Being part of the coriander plant doesn't make it any better, because that also has a very odd taste. This stuff has a horrible taste of soap. There are enough people in the world who have a dislike for it that any recipe that calls for cilantro or coriander should give some sort of alternative.

                                                                                                                                                          I might add, that like the kid in "The Christas Story", I too am a connoisseur on the various tastes of different bars of soap---and none of the bars that I had to sample tasted as bad as cilantro!!!

                                                                                                                                                          1. I get a faint soapy-citrusy whiff if I bury my nose in a whole clump of it and inhale deeply. Tastes lovely to me though.

                                                                                                                                                            1. That is all I can smell and taste - overpowering. Don't like it unless it's mixed in like, salsa.

                                                                                                                                                              1. The only thing that tastes scarier than cilantro is celery. or chives. or cheese. Funny how they all begin with "c"...

                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cookiephage

                                                                                                                                                                  I also don't like the taste of celery - but I love chives and cheese (sometimes together!).

                                                                                                                                                                  Cilantro doesn't taste soapy to me, but it has a very strong flavor (along with the other Parsleys) and I feel it could be used in much lower quantities.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hye

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm still amused by this: my husband and I both agree that parsley is so flavourless (flat leaf and curly) that there's no point in using it in recipes that call for it as it contributes little other than colour and a mild freshness. We usually don't bother with it, viewing it as a waste of money.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: vorpal

                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, for me, parsley (especially flat leaf), has a lot of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Cookiephage

                                                                                                                                                                    We have a friend in the restaurant business who describes cilantro thus - "looks like parsley, tastes like s&&t"!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Cookiephage

                                                                                                                                                                      Haha! That reminds me of my friend, who coincidentally hates almost all yellow foods: lemons, bananas, pineapple, corn, etc! She swears it's coincidental and has nothing to do with the colour yellow.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I love it. I know lots of people that hate it, but I'm not sure whether it's because it tastes soapy to them.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. What an inspired Q. I happen to be on the "yes I like it--side of this", but my wife and stepdaughter loathe cilantro--tho I've never specifically asked about the soap taste. Actually, this sounds like a question worthy of scientific inquiry. Who knows what the results might indicate--beyond de gustibus non disputandum.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Ahhhh...when I was a young girl, and misbehaved, my mother would wash my mouth out with ivory soap. I'm not kidding--NOW I know why I love ANYTHING with Cilantro!

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                                                                            Boy, were you lucky. My mother used Fels Naptha! I can't stand cilantro.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Yes, it tastes of soap to me.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. For those who get a soapy taste........do you get a similar reaction with coriander? Just wondering, coriander is the fruit (seeds) on the same plant. It has a similar citrus flavor to it.

                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: guy_incognito

                                                                                                                                                                                Ground coriander seeds do not have nearly the same level of problem as the green leaves and stems. Decenal - the fatty aldehyde that appears to create the soapy taste for people with the enzyme problem in the palate - is present in abundance in the raw leaves and stems before fruiting (most herbs are harvested before flowering or fruiting because their flavor declines after such), but much less in the fruit and once dried or cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: guy_incognito

                                                                                                                                                                                  I get the soapy taste, and I've noticed that beer that's flavored with coriander seeds is usually undrinkable for me. Belgian white ales in particular. Yesterday I tried Sam Adams Lemon Pepper Saison, and it had the flavor. Wikipedia notes that American brewers commonly use coriander seeds in saison. If anyone wants to test this, try Hoegaarden white ale. I know this sounds really nasty, but imagine what 3 day old urine might taste like.. basically it tastes to me like that smell.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Your answers may be skewed because your meethods are not scientific, i.e., your sample is not random, (and your question is a bit biased as well.) So those who dislike cilantro may be more inclined to respond than those who love it, or who simply are OK with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  (I love it),

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. In a NYTimes article today, there was a discussion about how vocal people are when they do not like cilantro. It offers a theory that the intensity of the dislike is directly linked to how we have developed strong associations to smells and tastes that have been vital to our adaptation and survival to today.

                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/din...

                                                                                                                                                                                    I really like the suggestion at the end to cook the cilantro to break down some of the soapy-taste enzymes. Maybe I can learn to like it, or at least try to dislike it less.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I hate cilantro but I can't honestly say that I think "soap" when I taste it. I think "yuk!" I really hate it when restaurants drown dishes in cilantro--or when I order something that shouldn't have cilantro and then find the chef got creative and sprinkled it all over the dish to make it pretty.

                                                                                                                                                                                      At an excellent Mexican restaurant in San Diego one of my friends derided me before the waitress and everyone else for not liking cilantro. She went on and on and I wanted to kill her. When she finally finished, the waitress said quietly, "I don't like cilantro all that much either." I told my husband to give her a BIG tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. HATE it. It tastes more metallic than soapy to me. I can choke it down if it's being served to me at someone's home, but for hours afterward, I feel like I've been sucking on pennies. YUCK. Once my dad invited me to supper at his house, and I walked in the door and smelled the cilantro in the soup he was cooking. I was like "oh man..." and just ate enough to be polite.

                                                                                                                                                                                        (And to answer someone else's question, I like coriander in small amounts. It does not have that taste to me.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. It is interesting to me that most people who dislike cilantro, say it thaste like soap. I TOO AGREE!!! I don't even recall cilantro being used in recipes until about 10 to 15 years ago. It seems now that it is used in any cuisine you would care to mention. I thought it was basicaly used in Mexican cuisine. As far as I am concerned,it ruins the taste of everything in which it is used. I wish someone could suggest something to substitute for it. I specifically mean an ingredient that can be used in all the different cuisines that call for cilantro.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bob3443

                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, it's used a LOT in Middle Eastern and Indian, as well. My dh is from the Middle East and he pretty much introduced me to using it in cooking. He's in his upper 50's and was cooking a while as a bachelor, so he has a lot of great recipes from his mother from back home that use cilantro (which he actually calls coriander). I have applied it elsewhere with great success (we all like it in my family), but it's actually a very, very ancient herb and used widely in the world outside of Mexico/Latin cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            For substitution, I have used parsley in the Middle Eastern recipes that call for it. If I am making a dish that will be shared among colleagues or a group where there is a known cilantro-hater, parsley in small quantities seems to work fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As for coriander... I don't taste the difference. It's the same plant as cilantro, just that it's gone to seed and flowers. Just as when my chives bloom or my parsley flowers, I don't taste a difference in the leaves themselves. I have an extensive herb garden, so my herbs do go to seed around this time of year and I'll soon put the bed to rest for the winter. I don't notice a great difference throughout the summer, although in spring the plants are simply more tender.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: velochic

                                                                                                                                                                                              oh my god, I do! it tastes totally gross after it starts flowering.
                                                                                                                                                                                              if it bolts and doesn't flower, it turns fantastically lemmony.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I can taste what you describe as a "bright, sharp flavor" - but it is good and I like that flavor. I eat Cilantro right off the stem when I am cooking with it. I also like the fragrance, which is similar to roses and detergent. There really isn't any reason to dislike it, even if Cilantro is thought to taste and smell like soap, cleaning agents or bugs. Incidentally, that's another smell that people associate with Cilantro: bugs. They can give off that aldehyde aroma if you have ever smelled a bunch of insects concentrated in an area. In my opinion, any aversion to Cilantro is completely mental, in that the brain rejects it, because it is associated with consuming dangerous substances like soap chemicals, insects or dirt. In reality though, it is a clean, fresh taste to me - enjoy it! This reminds me of people saying that Rosemary tastes like pine needles - I like the smell of pine needles, don't you?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                                              <<any aversion to Cilantro is completely mental>>

                                                                                                                                                                                              I disagree. My belief (from everything I've read in regards to cilantro flavor chemistry) is that the aversion is hard-wired.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I remember hating cilantro with passion when I was little. My mom always added a generous amount of it in wonton broth. At the same time, wonton was one of my favorite foods. I used to pick off all the cilantro and just eat the wontons. Yet gradually, I grew to tolerate cilantro and now I adore it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              However, I really dislike parsley. It just tastes like grass to me. I subsitute parsley with cilantro in all Italian recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                                                                                                                                                                That's funny. I usually substitute cilantro with parsley.in any recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I find chamomile tastes like soap, don't find cilantro does, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Soap taster here, but I keep trying- even bought some to put in my mango salsa for my fish tacos the other day...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I love cilantro and I taste citrus. However, when you get down to answering your question, I don't think you'll have a very honest answer. How about "What percentage of CHers can think of dishes made better by cilantro, whether Latino, Thai, Vietnamese or your choice?". Seriously, maybe ask "what does cilantro taste like to you or contribute to a dish?" Just don't load your question up to be answered one way or the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I was fine with cilantro until I was making salsa one day and opened the top of the food processor. What I was hit with was an antiseptic, sharp, unpleasant aroma that affected how I was able to tolerate cilantro from that day forward. It's not so much a soapy taste -- it's the odor that smells like a just-sanitized bathroom. I can take a little cilantro in some dishes, but if something has an overwhelming cilantro flavor or aroma, count me out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I adore cilantro and feel badly for folks who don't because it seems to be added to so many dishes. So many menus don't indicate when a dish will contain it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: UTgal

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Speaking practically, why should the menu warn about cilantro? It's not like it's a peanut allergy issue.....it's just something that some people don't like....

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Because, for about a quarter of the customers, it might well render the dish inedible. Not medically, but palate-wise. Indicating its presence is just good practical sense for a restaurant trying to steer people to dishes they will actually enjoy. I mean, one can also ingest soap without medical harm, too...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I generally don't care for raw onions - to me, they are only palatable under certain circumstances. I have seen many similar comments on chowhound over the years. A large slice of raw onion on a hamburger would render that burger inedible to me and many others. Menus often don't warn that it is coming on my burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Should we demand that restaurants begin printing all of the ingredients in every dish? It isn't practical. It's my responsibility as a customer to be aware and ask questions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                But you can typically remove the onion, unlike cilantro that is mixed completely in the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cilantro aversion also is among the most common of palate problems - again, about 25% of people - so it makes sense to alert customers to its presence where they might not expect it. And I find good restaurants will do so for this reason. It's just common sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "But you can typically remove the onion"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, really, a raw onion infuses everything it touches.....removing it does not work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                What do you mean by the dish being inedible "palate-wise?" Are you saying that you cannot eat it because it will make you sick or that you just cannot tolerate the taste and therefore you will not eat it? Many tastes are acquired over time, possibly including cilantro. I recall not liking single-malt scotch, but after tasting it over and over again, I have grown to love it. Same goes for caviar, anchovies, black licorice, raw onion, radish, shallot, chives, horseradish, wasabi, etc. - I love all that stuff!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, it's like the dish has become permeated with soap. I've tried cilantro regularly for decades; it doesn't improve with repeated exposure (because I like food and would like to be able to enjoy the dishes that cilantro is an important featuring player in). It's a purely chemical thing. Please stop assuming that, for everyone, it's just an issue of getting used to it; it is for some, but not all. People are not making this up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I make no assumptions, and base my thoughts on personal experience. It tastes like much like soap to me as well, although I cannot say that I have ever deliberately eaten any soap to discover its taste. Cilantro can be sharply bitter, and have a lingering floral after-taste. A bit similar to straight gin (Bombay please). I like that taste and the sensation it brings, despite the strong flavors. My take is that the Cilantro flavor is not an easy thing to like, but eventually, one grows accustomed to it. Of course too much cilantro in a dish is bad, just like too much of any herb or spice is (salt, garlic, pepper etc.) - a flavor can be overpowering and ruin cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "but eventually, one grows accustomed to it"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not always true; often untrue. Just accept that on the personal testimony of many people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I learned to love caviar raw onion, radish, shallot, chives, horseradish, wasabi,coffie and much more I even learned to toerate to anchovies and black licorice and in 40 years cilantro in a dish still tastes like some poured dish soup all over it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Exactly. I've had friends have to painstakingly pick cilantro leaves from their food. If a menu simply said, "topped with fresh cilantro!" or "a delicious filling of basil and cilantro" it would help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ETA I just read what you said about asking the server questions. That would be wise. I do that all the time due to an aversion to some kinds of peppers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You are so wrong. For some people it is exactly like a peanut allergy. My tongue and mouth burn, and I begin to feel hoarse like I need to clear my throat constantly. Then, I can't catch enough breath to talk loud enough for anyone to hear me. I feel my throat starting to swell as I frantically search my purse for allergy medication. I have learned that panic is my enemy, so I calmly sit there and wait for the medication to work as I can't talk to ask for help. I feel lightheaded and my pulse is racing, but I pretend everything is fine. I feel stupid for believing the waitress that they will not put cilantro in the food if I ask. I am embarrassed and don't want to make a scene (which I can't because I am unable to speak above a whisper). So I leave and never go back to that restaurant. It is not a joke. It is not just a spice. It is silently sitting in a restaurant wondering if I am going to die this time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ethyl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This a different issue and far more serious that cilantro tasting like soap, though, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like yours is a very serious allergy to cilantro (if that's the allergen), so much so that your throat swells up. Sounds dangerously close to anaphylaxis, so please be extra careful and carry a epi pen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As with a person who suffers from a peanut allergy, it is the responsibility of the person with the medical issue to ask questions about the use of the allergen in the individual dish, rather than rely upon the menu description. A menu description may not be an entire list of ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Coriander may not be the allergen at all, but the family of substances that contain birch pollen (since coriander is related to the birch tree), so please make sure to get an actual clinical allergen diagnosis so that you can avoid the offending substance(s) when you dine. Could save your life. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I feel sorry for anybody who tastes soap. Cilantro is one of the best fresh herbs there is - so much so that I refuse to use dried, which to me tastes like nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I cannot eat cilantro or coriander. Cilantro tastes like a cleaning product. The first time I had something with coriander in it I felt violated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. It does taste a bit soapy to me, but I like it. It has the bright green newly-mown-grass taste of parsley, but a little astringent, and with another note that I do associate with the smell of bar soap, I used to hate it, but a few years ago, we were using it heavily in the cafe where I worked, and then I started to appreciate the smell of it during prep. After that, it just seemed natural to give it another try. I still don't like it in a mainly acidic dish (like fresh salsa), but cilantro with creamy and spicy elements has become something I crave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm sensitive to quite a few smells but I love cilantro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. It's funny how this post is revitalized after long stretches...BUT it makes sense, as it AFFECTS so many!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It has been established for a long time that is a gene issue. You have a gene that either makes it taste like soap....or NOT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now I am not posting again to make some pedantic statement, however, a statement that is probably obvious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Cilantro" is also known as "Chinese PARSLEY"......emphasis on the "parsley" which in most lexicon is the most innocuous herb. SO...what I am I getting at??? The Chinese (and other ethnicities that like cilantro) probably exhibit "the soapy gene" much less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hey, I'm glad I don't get the "soapy" taste, but those that do can take solace in the fact they like a lot of things others don't too. Maybe you like something sweet.....or sour....or salty....that a lot of people don't. The flavors of the world have no boundaries. So enjoy what you like and have fun asking others how they could not like what you enjoy! :) NO ONE HAS THE SAME TASTE BUDS!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: guy_incognito

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            and wasabi is japanese horseradish. they call things like that to give references...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As, I stated.....I have NO IDEA. I just wonder when a culture labels something as any sort of "parsley"...it is a muted herb to them. I would bet thousands of dollars that certain ethnicitiies are more predisposed to the "soap" gene. If there were as many latinos getting the "soapy" taste it would not be as ubiquitous or predominant in their food. Same goes for China and their "Chines Parsley"........or the commonplace of cilantro in other SE Asia cuisines. IMHO, Europeans have a higher occurrence of the "soap" gene. That's why it is a "new" herb while other areas have had it in their cuisine forever...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: guy_incognito

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let me be......C L E A R.........let's do a study here......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Take 10+ of your European descent friends and see who likes "cilantro"...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I will take 10+ Chinese friends in Shenzhen and see who likes "cilantro"...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let's make the bet high stake, if we ever meet, the winner gets one of the best things they ever tasted...doesn't have to be expensive at all...and I will travel to the Midwest on my own dime to savor my victory or defeat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                P.S. The whole concept of this forum is interesting. Who knew that food could be such a dichotomy? I guarantee this forum is full of relatively inexperienced cooks pretending to be experts.....and the glaring absence are the people actually cooking as a profession. Most of the professionals are doing something else...but who gives a shit?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Be the best cook you can be....it will make your life, your family , and friend's life better....just don't denegrate those that do this for a living. Maybe you actually are a better cook (doubtful), but EVERYONE misses that humble cook in the kitchen that says "Awww shucks" and proceeds to give you the best meal in your life....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: guy_incognito

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I am the one who started this thread a long long time ago. As it happens I have been in hotel and restaurant management for over 50 years. While I would never presume to refer to myself as a chef, my personal time in various kitchens has been of longer duration than many people who do call themselves "chefs"! I state this only to establish my bona fides. Cilantro Does have a soapy taste and it is simply because a chemical or chemical compound causes that taste. People, by degree, can be more OR less sensitive to that taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While it is absolutely NOT my intent to gross anyone out, there is a fact about Parmesan cheese that goes to the issue as being discussed concerning cilantro. Parmesan has a chemical that creates a peculiar taste that can also be found in, HOW SO I PUT THIS DELICATELY, in "up chuck". This is a true fact!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Dare I say it? This could all be turning into a soap opera...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My husband was the first person who ever mentioned to me the soapy taste of cilantro. It doesn't taste that way to me. I am the one with the hypersensitive sense of smell on some things, I guess he must be on others now that I think of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I taste soap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not as bad as it was when I was younger, but its still soapy to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. My whole family hates the stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I get the soapy flavor from cilantro, BUT I often like small amounts of it in larger dishes. Anything with lots and lots of cilantro tastes awful to me, but small amounts can add an interesting, not-unpleasant note to different foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. The Hubby and I both detest cilantro but tolerate coriander. We also both detest beets (they have a nasty flavor that can only be described as "earthy." For us the beet greens are definitely the best part, so we team up with a friend who likes the roots and hit the farmer's market every now and then).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowbird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That is really funny about the beets. I say they taste like dirt,which is of course "earthy". However, I do like mushrooms which also have an "earthy" taste about them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you ever had Harvard beets. It is not a variety of beet but rather a way to prepare them. My Mom always used to prepare them that way and they tasted pretty good---NO DIRT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bob Halfpenny

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. No soap taste in this house. Love coriander whether in leaf or seed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. It's about 12% of the population, according to this research study from 23andMe:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.flavourjournal.com/content...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For those of European descent, it's typically 12-14%; for those from South and East Asia, it's just 4-9%

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I used to go to a wonderful spa in Tecate, Mexico called Rancho La Puerta. They would make 2 batches of guacamole: one with cilantro and one without. At the time I didn't understand why. After reading the article in the New York Times, I realized that some people taste soap. I'm one of the people who is able to enjoy cilantro. I wonder if there are other foods/spices that produce a different taste in people.