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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.)

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

                          1. 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

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

                            2. "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

                                Good suggestions. Chives could also work.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  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

                                    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

                                    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. 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. 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.