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

Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:20 PM

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. s
    shellster RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:33 PM

    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
      Glam Foodie RE: shellster Jun 28, 2010 06:41 PM

      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!

    2. goodhealthgourmet RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:39 PM

      popular topic:

      4 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
        LindaWhit RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 29, 2010 10:08 AM

        :-D Just what I was hoping for.

        1. re: LindaWhit
          buttertart RE: LindaWhit Jun 29, 2010 12:30 PM

          +1 ;-)

          1. re: LindaWhit
            goodhealthgourmet RE: LindaWhit Jun 29, 2010 05:12 PM

            yikes - this means i'm too predictable :)

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
              LindaWhit RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 29, 2010 07:33 PM

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

        2. pikawicca RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:43 PM

          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
            Glam Foodie RE: pikawicca Jun 28, 2010 06:52 PM

            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
              goodhealthgourmet RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:58 PM

              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
                lagatta RE: Glam Foodie Jun 29, 2010 07:03 PM

                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
                  goodhealthgourmet RE: lagatta Jun 29, 2010 08:05 PM

                  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 :)

            2. l
              LB_Foodie RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:44 PM

              There was an article in the NYT about this recently.


              1 Reply
              1. re: LB_Foodie
                Glam Foodie RE: LB_Foodie Jun 28, 2010 06:53 PM

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

              2. Caitlin McGrath RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 07:31 PM

                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.)

                1. s
                  SpikeC RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 08:01 PM

                  I have what my therapist called "classic operant conditioning" with regards to cilantro. I will spare everyone how that came to be, the bottom line of which is that I can not tolerate it. When I am cooking something that has cilantro as an ingredient I either just omit it or add Italian parsley. While the taste is undoubtably different, I have never felt that I was missing anything. As I can't tolerate the taste of the stuff I can see no reason why I would want to substitute something to approximate it!

                  1. Emme RE: Glam Foodie Jun 28, 2010 09:59 PM

                    i can't stand cilantro (or ginger) -- taste like soap to me. BUT i had someone tell me how differently cooked cilantro tastes. i tried roasting it, heavily. and it turns sweeter and is more palatable to me this way...

                    1. phofiend RE: Glam Foodie Jun 29, 2010 07:52 AM

                      I made this very potato salad, and though I like cilantro, I didn't have any any in the house and substituted dill and parsley instead. It was very good.

                      1. mrbigshotno.1 RE: Glam Foodie Jun 29, 2010 09:43 AM

                        Check this out...


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                          Glam Foodie RE: mrbigshotno.1 Jun 29, 2010 02:51 PM

                          Amazing. I'm home!

                        2. Perilagu Khan RE: Glam Foodie Jun 29, 2010 01:05 PM

                          I don't like cilantro, but in small doses, blended in with other flavors, I don't have a problem with it.

                          1. q
                            quirkydeb RE: Glam Foodie Jun 29, 2010 01:11 PM

                            I don't like it either, and neither do my brother or father. The most interesting thing for me is to read that it tastes a little like parsley & lemon or basil & mint. Which does make it sound good! Makes sense for why it's so popular. Unfortunately for me, it brings to mind dirty socks.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: quirkydeb
                              Glam Foodie RE: quirkydeb Jun 29, 2010 02:51 PM

                              Yeah, there's a DIRTINESS to it. Sometimes I sort of get the soap taste, but ultimately it's like a dirty nickel.

                            2. h
                              Harters RE: Glam Foodie Jun 29, 2010 03:08 PM

                              "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? "

                              Cider vinegar suggests to me northern climates, rather than where coriander would be generally used in cooking. Without seeing the full recipe, I'd use parsley, maybe dill (although I'm not too fond of dill)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Harters
                                Perilagu Khan RE: Harters Jun 29, 2010 06:54 PM

                                Good suggestions. Chives could also work.

                                1. re: Harters
                                  lagatta RE: Harters Jun 29, 2010 07:05 PM

                                  Such a salad is classic with flatleaved parsley. I find the cilantro in it odd. I love both of those herbs, but I don't think cilantro suits the flavour profile of that dish.

                                  1. re: lagatta
                                    Caitlin McGrath RE: lagatta Jun 29, 2010 07:59 PM

                                    The potato salad recipe in question includes garlic, cilantro, and jalapeƱo, along with the cider vinegar and oil. You can read four posters' raves about it (and others' interest), plus a link to the recipe here, on the Home Cooking board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7055...

                                  2. re: Harters
                                    onceadaylily RE: Harters Jul 26, 2010 03:21 PM

                                    My first thought was dill, with a bit of lemon (zest, I mean, for the brighter flavor profile, as the ACV will impart enough acid without adding more juice, unless the OP wanted to substitute a portion).

                                  3. c
                                    CatDancing RE: Glam Foodie Jul 26, 2010 01:54 PM

                                    Ewwwwww.....cilantro.....major yucky! I constantly see TV chefs thowing it into various dishes and see lots of recipes in magazines, etc. that call for it. I bought some once to try and my husband and I both thought the taste was just awful, both fresh and cooked, and didn't even really care for the scent. It's strange that it tastes so terrible to me because I love the taste of most herbs (with the other possible exception being tarragon), and even grow many myself each summer for culinary and medicinal uses. Maybe some folks just don't have the "right" taste receptors to appreciate it (LOL). When it's called for in salads, etc. I usually substitute parsley, or parsley and chives, or sometimes a pinch of lemon balm.
                                    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one out here who's not a fan of cilantro!

                                    1. l
                                      lagatta RE: Glam Foodie Jul 26, 2010 04:13 PM

                                      Glam Foodie, last night I made a sort-of-salsa of lovely ripe tomatoes, red onions and peppery arugula (rucola, roquette, rocket) because the guest of honour is an Argentine friend who can't abide cilantro. Not at all authentic, but suprisingly good.

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