Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Hate Cilantro too!

If we judge flavour by how edible and/or safe a food is then, Cilantro (or Chinese Parsley or Coriander) has to rank up somewhere in the near-poisonous zone. Turkish delight tastes like soap too, but at least it's sweet.

Now I'm somewhat comforted to learn that there is support for the few of us who would rather do without this garnish menace. Thanks to Larry Moran over at Sandwalk, I've learned there is a website dedicated to putting the hate on this herb from hell.

They have Haikus so you know it must be good:

Sometimes I forget...
Then it rears its ugly stench.
Please, someone kill me.

I will admit that I've used the dried spice version (technically Coriander Seed) as a spice on a few occasions, but the funky taste isn't as dominant and it has a sweeter aftertaste. I've never tasted it alone, so that might explain why I'm less hostile to it.

Some have suggested there might be genetic component involved in the perception of the taste, but it has never been established.

If you don't like the flavour of cilantro, I recommend you substitute Italian leafy parsley in a recipe instead. I've been doing that for some time and get a similar texture with an equally strong and more pleasant flavour.

Update: I just found this great piece in the Wall Street Journal.

At the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, Dr. Wysocki and fellow researchers asked 41 pairs of identical twins and 12 pairs of fraternal twins to rate the "pleasantness" of cilantro. His scale ranged from plus 11 to minus 11, with zero indicating "neither pleasant nor unpleasant." More than 80% of the identical twins gave ratings similar to their siblings, while only 42% of the fraternal twins did -- suggesting cilantro hatred may be a genetic trait. But Dr. Wysocki cautions that he hasn't yet analyzed enough fraternal twins to draw a firm conclusion.

Dr. Wysocki contends dislike of cilantro stems from its odor, not its taste. His hypothesis is that those who don't like it are unable to detect chemicals in the leaf that are pleasing to those who like the herb.

Interesting. Maybe that's why it's fine for me to use coriander seed, unless it's chemically different.


Angie said...

Mmmm, coriander...love it.

Funny how it elicits such strong reactions. Poor little herb!

I don't hate anything enough to start a website, but I will register my disgust for anchovies. Also, mango.

Owlfarmer said...

I'm not sure human beings were ever really meant to eat this stuff. But so many people actually like it that it makes you wonder.

I mean, I can understand why Bourdain loves it; that guy eats all manner of unseemly stuff. But normal people? With normal smell-buds?

You're lucky you don't live in Texas, Geoff. If you go out for breakfast they try to put it on your pancakes around here!

Geoff said...

Ewww! To think I actually loved the food in Texas. Perhaps I missed the Cilantro craze when I was there last in the 90's.

Then again, what explains those humongous portions?

I love the lemony flavour of the seed however.

Owlfarmer said...

Me, too, which is what made me think of Khir, the pudding I'm posting about in Owl's Cabinet--along with a pork loin recipe you might like because it's cooked in beer.

I also took your name in vain.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget the day...

I was about 14 and went to a sleep-over at my best friend's house. In the morning, I woke to the smell of something so horrible, so nauseating, that I had to run outside in my pajamas so as not to heave...

Her mother was cooking an omelet that contained what must have been an entire bushel of cilantro.

I had never heard of, tasted, or smelled it before then, and my sudden and genuine reaction of disgust insulted everyone in the house. I felt so bad! I couldn't understand why they didn't get it...to me it smelled sort of like burning rubber and soap.

I swear it must be genetic...