Aversions to Cilantro
Few herbs inspire as strong an emotion as cilantro. People seem indifferent at best with mint or cinnamon, and you never hear a peep out of the parsley haters. Not so with cilantro. The reviled (by some) herb has even brought its critics together on the I Hate Cilantro website, and on countless Facebook groups vocal in the members’ dislike of the flavorful garnish.
Cilantro is the leaf of the herb coriander and is also known as Chinese parsley. It was originally native to the eastern Mediterranean region, and was brought to Mexico and Peru by Spanish conquistadors. The herb was used for medicinal purposes by Hippocrates and other Roman and Greek physicians. Members of the Chinese Han dynasty more than 2,000 years ago even thought that the herb had the power to make them immortal, and used the coriander seed in love potions. So how is it that many people call it “the Devil’s weed,” and will do anything and everything to avoid the herb?
Why the cilantro hate?
While most who dislike the taste say it reminds them of soap, others are more creative in their descriptions. The more colorful descriptions on the website range from describing the herb as “a clump of dried lawn-clippings, seasoned ever so slightly with pine-sol” to “licking a handful of dirty change.” Ouch. Even Julia Child professed to not being a fan. But, there is new information that suggests that this aversion goes beyond a simple taste preference. Several recent studies link the taste aversion to genetic variants that influence smell.
How to conquer a cilantro aversion
Since cilantro is a mainstay of Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, you may have to avoid these cuisines altogether. If the thought of never enjoying another bowl of salsa again causes you to have nervous palpitations, rest assured that there are ways around the herb. Try crushing the leaves, as a Japanese study suggests, according to a N.Y. Times article. This will allow the enzymes that would normally produce a soapy effect in some to be released slowly and converted into substances with no aroma.
Whether you decide to forgo cilantro forever, or bravely attempt to reprogram your brain to enjoy the fresh lemony herb, know that you are in good company. Align yourself with fellow cilantro haters such as Julia Child, Ina Garten, Kim Kardashian and Jerry Springer. If you become a cilantro lover, you’ll have plenty to talk about the next time you’re sitting next to Bette Midler, Kevin Bacon, Jamie Oliver or Jacques Pepin.
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