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Jun 28, 2010 06:20 PM

Anyone else "allergic" to or HATE the taste of cilantro? Are there any substitutions?

I'm one of those "weirdos" that dislikes the stuff (unless it's pretty well-masked in a dish, like ultra fiery salsa), and I'm really just wondering how much of a minority I find myself in. It just tastes sharply metallic to me. Someone once told me that distaste for cilantro is genetically based - I was amazed. It actually makes sense, because my father DESPISES the stuff. Says it tastes the way he imagines wet, soapy laundry would if he were forced to eat it. It's hard for my family to go to a Mexican restaurant with him, because he's truly phobic about it, and will sweetly beg the waitress/waiter to make sure there's no cilantro to be found on his plate.

He's worse than I am, so I'm hoping that with each generation, this distaste weakens. May my future grandchildren be able to enjoy cilantro-laced guacamole in all it's glory!

What other herb can I substitute in where cilantro is called for, rather than fully omitting it? For example, there's this amazing sounding potato salad in Gourmet that has garlic and cider vinegar, two of my favorite ingredients, but it also includes cilantro. What could I throw in there instead? Any ideas?

ETA: My father is a full-blooded Greek man, and his own father is from Crete. My mother, on the other hand, has a Spanish-Cuban father and a mother born in MEXICO CITY. And I can't eat cilantro 90% of the time. Such a travesty!

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  1. Sorry nothing really comes to mind except maybe parsley marinated in lemon juice..Cilantro tastes green and very lemony to me..So interesting, this perceptive you and your father have with cilantro. I can't imagine it tasting metallic or soapy..but so interesting that you both do AND that it could be genetic! Sorry, it must be annoying to you :S.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shellster

      Yeah, it's annoying, but it's okay, I still enjoy my Mexican food with plenty of peppers, onions, tomatoes, and avocado - we more than make up for it! Thanks for telling me what it actually tastes like to you. Funny, I LOVE lemon, yet I just don't get that flavor when I taste cilantro.

      I'm seriously going to try the parsley-lemon juice thing, because I really want to make that potato salad I mentioned for my fiance's parents' Fourth of July barbecue. Thanks for the suggestion!

          1. re: LindaWhit

            yikes - this means i'm too predictable :)

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              No, we LOVE that you're predictable and can come up with the many threads on the subject! :-)

        1. I love cilantro, but think that if you have to sub, basil and mint, combined, usually work best. BTW, cilantro does NOT belong in guacamole: avocado, lime juice, salt. Period.

          4 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            Hmmm, I like the basil and mint combination; that's another one I'll try, especially since the Greek half of me adores those flavors like mad.

            And THANK YOU - every time my fiance tries to make guacamole with a fist full of avocado, I just want to bash my head against the counter.

            1. re: Glam Foodie

              i like pikawicca's suggestion for the basil-mint combo, i'd just add a touch of lemon zest as well to mimic the lemony undertones in cilantro.

              1. re: Glam Foodie

                Glam, I presume you mean a fistful of cilantro. There is not guacamole without avocado, as far as I know.

                Agree with goodhealthgourmet, though parsley vs cilantro is the Andean dividing line between Argentine chimichurri and Chilean pebre, very similar otherwise.

                Goodhealth, there are also those Moroccan preserved lemons (yum). Of course in the interests of good health you have to go mollo with those as they are preserved in salt, but just a touch adds such an intriguing flavour.

                1. re: lagatta

                  i'm super-sensitive to salt in terms of taste *and* physical reaction (e.g water retention), so i always use a light hand with those things...fortunately a little goes a long way :)

              1. re: LB_Foodie

                Thank you so much for this! I'm actually emailing this to my father right now. Brilliant article, very informative.

              2. The Chowhound poster Karl S has suggested that celery leaves are a good sub for those who can't tolerate cilantro. I think I can see that; they have the just-slightly-bitter edge that hits an angle of the same flavor. (I like them for themselves, but I also like cilantro.)