I H a t e C i l a n t r o . c o m
Supporting the Fight Against Cilantro!
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Visitors share their cilantro stories...
It all started when I bit into a fish taco at a Mexican restaurant. An overwhelming flavor caused me to spit out what was in my mouth, and at the same time I felt flushed and nauseous. I nearly got sick, but was able to gulp down a beverage before I did. I had no idea what it was in that taco that caused such a reaction! All I know is I was done with my meal.
A year or so later, while having chips and salsa, I had a the same reaction and was determined to find out what it was from.
To this day, I have to pick every tiny green speck off of my chips when I eat salsa, or else I get the same overwhelming urge to vomit. Even the smell makes me ill! I can't stand being in the same room with someone who uses fresh cilantro on any food. My stomach churns just thinking about it!
Jessica \ BG, OH, United States
Every couple of months, our very large office will have a pot-luck lunch. A Vietnamese summer student brought salad rolls as her contribution on this one particular occasion.
The rolls were a big hit and were snatched up at a furious rate. I managed to elbow my way to the front of the line and grabbed the last said salad roll much to the chagrin of several co-workers. I held it up high celebrating as if I had won the lottery. I took a big bite of the roll in front of my salvating colleagues who watched as I spit the poisoned roll across the crowded room. I looked at the wretched half eaten item, tongue hanging from my mouth, burnt from being exposed to toxic weed. I walked over to the garbage, and slammed the remaining vile roll into the bottom of the can.
People who weren't able to get any of the salad rolls were upset at my "wasting" them. I told them, I simply saved their lives and there was no need to thank me.
Fortunately, that was the last time this disgusting stink weed has touched my poor taste buds, who have never been the same since.
Hapkido \ Winnipeg, Canada
I have always hated this vile, toxic, soap-tasting weed. Its unexpected appearance in delicious foods has ruined many a meal for me. None however, has been worse than the horror of what I experienced yesterday.
I am seven months pregnant and have been jonesing for a cheese quesadilla. Not just any quesadilla, but one from Muchas Gracias. My pregnancy cravings have been few and far between, but this was the real deal...I needed it bad. My husband brought home the normally delicious morsels, and as I took my second bite I tasted the bitter, soapy tang of cilantro and literally spit out the food. Opened the quesadilla to find a cilantro-filled pico nightmare that is still haunting me this morning. I felt betrayed; they'd never used pico in their quesadillas before! Damn you, Muchas...damn you and your pico.
Megan \ Portland, OR, United States
I read these stories and there's so much I recognize. The first time I was overwhelmed by cilantro was in a burrito -- started out fine, then got progressively worse, until I threw the burrito away. I was sensitized, so that even a small amount of cilantro was enough to spoil an entire dish. We lived in Mexico for a while, and my first child was born there. I'd go into the markets to shop, but I'd have to leave -- the combination of cilantro stench and morning sickness was horrible! I'm not a princess about food, and I resent being made to feel "picky" when I say "no cilantro". It's the ethnic equivalent of raspberry vinagrette -- I hate the trendiness of both, but at least raspberry vinagrette doesn't nauseate me.
Susan \ Saranac Lake, NY, United States
As far as I know I never encountered cilantro, at least not in noticeable quantities, until I was in my early twenties. I was dating a girl that liked to try exotic things. She took me to a Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon. I can't recall exactly what the dish was, but it was basically beef with a medley of veggies. Ugh... I took one bite and was almost nauseous. There was something in it that tasted like perfume. It was way too powerful. I couldn't eat it. My girlfriend (now ex) thought I was just being boring, that I was reflexively rejecting the food because it was different. I pleaded with her that I had no choice. Sure, I could eat it . . . in the same way I could eat through my leg if caught in a bear trap.
It wasn't until around five years later that I discovered cilantro as the offending weed. I ordered a sushi roll. Took a bite. Ugh. There was that awful taste again. I took the roll apart and tasted each ingredient in isolation. Cilantro!
Rutledge \ Jackson, MS, United States
Recently when i was on my honeymoon, i went to a resteraunt that claimed it was 'Southern Night' and they had fried chicken on the menu. we made reservations and came back that night and the place was packed. i ordered the fried chicken and what came out to me was the worst meal i have ever had. not only did they slap a huge wad of butter on my over fried chicken, they put cilantro in the cole slaw!! i lived down south for 9 years and not once have i ever had cole slaw with cilantro in it. GROSS!!!!
Mike \ Fairport, NY, United States
I was traveling around the world last year and found myself in Bangkok, Thailand in the Fall. I went into a Vietnamese restaurant there, thinking that I would enjoy the experience. I pointed to a nice looking dish, and a few minutes later was presented with an appetizer that I initially thought was a flower pot for decoration. It was actually a salad made with entire leaves and stems, and a dressing pooled at the bottom rich with cilantro.
I knew after the first taste what it was. My first time tasting cilantro was at my university the year before. The "chef" at the cafeteria had loaded a taco with cilantro powder, and left me gagging for a few minutes after eating a clump of it. Now, I have the ability to voluntarily shut off my sense of taste and smell (for most foods), and tried to do this while eating the salad. It worked for a few minutes until the main meal came. Now, this dish was also loaded with cilantro and my ability was no match for the potent herb from hell. After a few bites, I couldn't stand it. My sense of taste came back in full, and I became nauseous.
One of the waitresses saw that I wasn't eating my food, and looked a little distressed. She didn't speak English, but I can only assume that she told her friends something along the lines of "this weak foreigner can't handle our hot food", because no more than a minute later I saw, like out of a cartoon three heads stacked on top of one another peeking at me around the corner, the waitresses giggling uncontrollably. There was a little heat to the food, but I've had much hotter before. It was just the cilantro that got me. My waitress handed the check to me while laughing, and I went across the street for a Whopper.
Kyle \ Philadelphia, PA, United States
I couldn't resist writing in, as I didn't see any stories on your site from anyone of Indian descent. As you know we use a ton of spices in our food, including paprika, cinnamon, fennel seed, and ground coriander. I had never tasted coriander (cilantro) leaves until I first tried Thai food and it was served chopped up on my pad thai. It immediately made me nauseous. A few years later my husband bought a bunch of groceries, one of which was supposed to be parsley. I'll never forget the stench that emanated from the plastic bag. I didn't even have to open it to know he'd bought cilantro by mistake. The smell literally makes me nauseous. I agree with previous comments that cilantro was never widely used until the 1990s, and I NEVER had it in Indian food until very recently. Once an Indian guy I know accused me of "not being a real Indian" because I didn't like cilantro! I replied that not a single dish made by my mother or any of our family/friends in the Indian community contained cilantro. So whatever the recent trend is, it is certainly not traditional.
Rebecca \ Toronto, Canada
I am 28 and so far have managed to never eat cilantro to my recollection. I mean I'm sure that I have somewhere, but either didn't notice or don't recall.
I recently went to a Vietnamese restaurant. I have never tried this type of food before. Most of the food I enjoyed very much. The meats were very good, the soup was great, and they give you this giant pile of various vegetables and roots to try with everything. There was a curious green plant that I thought looked very similar to parsley. It had and overwhelming flavor to it that permeated everything it touched. At first it wasn't bad, but as the meal progressed I started to dislike it immensely.
After learning what it was, I now will stay away from it forever. A day later I am still tasting it in my mouth, and it seems like my entire being is infused with the stuff. Nasty...
Kalyandra \ St. Louis, MO, United States
I started bumming around Mexico during summer vacations from High School and though I still love most anything Mexican and go there as often as I can, as a youngster I traveled on a budget which meant usuing public transport wherever it was available. I got used to most of the many distinct orders that you encounter in a big seething city like the Federal District, but I NEVER got used to the stench of cilantro. Homemakers with bunches of cilantro in their market bags, on busses and subway trains. Cilantro used as garnish even at breakfast. The absolute worst is pulling into the METRO station that serves the neighborhood with the ancient MERCED market where the noxious weed is delivered day and night by the truckload. Not only does the entire market, station and neighborhood reek, the nasty, scent of old rotting cilantro on a warm afternoon is enough to give you tourist nausea without ever partaking of a smidgin.
Deecunningham \ Longview, TX, United States
My first experience with cilantro was in Taipei in 1984. I thought I'd been poisoned by some rancid fish oil. The effects lasted 24 hours. In the US, I began tasting the same foul taste in chicken, soups, and sauces. My ploy now is to say that I am allergic to cilantro. Down with cilantro.
Rose Mary Pepper \ Portland, PA, United States
It was a few years ago. I was making homemade guac with my family when the subject of cilantro came up (we weren't actually putting it in the guac, but it came up). My younger brother asked "What's cilantro?" My mom said "It's an herb. Some people like it, but some think it tastes like soap." That stuck with me. It was a few months later when I got out of work early one day and decided to grab something from whole foods for lunch. I picked a tasty looking black bean salad. I knew it had cilantro, but didn't hate it at the point. Problem: I didn't get a drink (I wanted Diet Coke but Whole Foods doesn't sell something that unhealthy). Two minutes after I sat down, I was choking on a mouthful of cilantro-tasting salad and had to run to the water fountain to try to stop coughing. The whole time I thought I was dying and in my head there was the chant: "Soap. Soap. Soap." Last encounter: Trying a trendy new restaurant with my boyfriend, I ordered the moules frites, a usual fave. It came out covered in cilantro (what!? on mussels!?) and I had to sit there, starving, and ruin the meal.
Cappi \ New York, NY, United States
First off, let me say that I have been a lifelong hater of the evil demon weed known as Cilantro... I have felt so alone in California among all the wonderful Mexican food RUINED by this abomination. Now that I have found a community of people like me I feel vindicated! *sniff* Thank you ihatecilantro.com! Now a quick one of the many, many cilantro stories I have to tell...
I was enjoying a nice weekend out in the country with some friends - swimming, nice wines, and of course, tons of great food. My girlfriend at the time knew I hated cilantro and kept it out of everything, but her "friend" made the main dish at lunch, and insisting "He's just being dramatic - I bet he won't even notice" apparently added a heaping bunch of finely chopped cilantro. Needless to say, I took one bite and my faced scrunched up in disgust... "I think there's CILANTRO in this!!!" I said as I spit out the bite into my napkin... I ate the side dish and bread for lunch.
Aaron \ Los Angeles, CA, United States
I always thought that cilantro tasted like soap. No one I know agrees with me. I just read the book Turkey Flambe by Nancy Fairbanks. In it, her main character Carolyn Blue mentions that 10% of people can't tolerate cilantro. Apparently it contains an enzyme that makes it taste and smell terrible to some people. She even mentions this website, which made me curious to check it out and see if the soap taste was just my imagination. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who tastes soap when eating cilantro. I avoid it in restaurant foods if at all possible.
Beth \ Plainfield, NJ, United States
I've always loved Mexican food - the nachos, the enchiladas - you get it. Then years ago I went to a Hispanic Heritage Festival in the next town over. They had all kind of food for sale. I decided on some concoction that looked yummy. One bite and I had to run for the trash can - oh my GOD! It was the most horrible thing I had ever tasted. LIKE BITTER SOAP!!
Never, never again. Now I always check the ingredients before I try any Hispanic foods.
I HATE CILANTRO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Carol \ Fishkill, NY, United States
I was a senior in high school. I already knew that I disliked cilantro. It was the day before our winter formal, which of course meant that all of us that had been chosen to be on the court would be subjected to something humiliating. What we had to do was kind of a relay race wherein each person had to run up to a table and eat something really fast and then run back and tag the next person. Some people lucked out and got a spoonful of peanut butter....others weren't so lucky and had to drink clam juice. Of course I get up there and have to completely chew and swallow and large handful of EVIL CILANTRO.
I could barely do it. I had plug my nose and pretend my life depended on eating the crap.
That was in 1996 and to this day just the slightest whiff of it makes me gag.
Nicole \ Arcadia, CA, United States
You know, I never used to hate cilantro... I know, crazy, right? I certainly knew I didn't like it, and thought it tasted like mild dish soap... Yet being a child who was oft punished with the dab of dish soap on the toungue, I could tolerate it without immediately gagging. Cut to February, 2005. I'm in Peru, living it up with my art conservation classmates, and decide to try the local specialty, ceviche. THIS WAS A BAD IDEA. Eating uncooked fish in a country where you cannot under any circumstances ingest the water is just a bad call. I'm sure I also managed to ingest some of said water as well, because later that night and for the rest of the trip, I was wretchedly ill. Now I must clarify, the cilantro in that ceviche made me feel immediately nauseous, from which I did not recover all day... I'm sure it was the water, or the fish that made me physically ill, but the memory of those fresh green leaves violating my tastebuds and assaulting my nostrils will never, ever go away. Now I gag every time I pass it at the grocery store, and every time I leave the country I learn to say 'no cilantro, I'm allergic!' in the native tongue of whichever countries i'm visiting. If anyone has any tips for Morocco, please advise!
Kristin \ New York City, NY, United States
I didn't want to hate cilantro. And it didn't used to be as popular as it is now. I guess it started for me back in the late 80s. I was growing an extensive herb and veggie garden, and I loved salsa and wanted to make it myself. Somehow the salsa in jars that says cilantro is an ingredient was never offensive. (Remember, this is back in the late 80s.) I lived and worked on a working horse farm at the time and was putting up fence that had been treated with creosote, so when I planted that cilantro plant for the first time, I blamed the offensive odor on my hands on the fencing I had been putting up. It wasn't until I actually tasted the herb the first time that I realized that it was the cilantro!
I was very sad, actually, since I love to grow and use culinary and medicinal herbs. But cilantro/coriander leaves have earned the top spot on my most hated/most repulsive plant food list. Whenever we had lunch catered in at work, when it was Baja Fresh or some local gourmet place, I'd never be able to partake because everything had cilantro. Just smelling it now is enough to make me ill.
And everyone thought I was strange for not liking it.
Glad to know I am not the only one.
Chromasnake \ KPDX, OR, United States
I'm Asian, but I never liked the taste of cilantro even when I was young. When I tasted it in my Mom's cooking, I always spit it out because it created this atrocious flavor in my mouth. My first REAL encounter with cilantro however, was at Baja Fresh in high school when I ate one of their burritos. I couldn't really taste it given there were so many other ingredients. About an hour later, I broke out in hives on my entire body. It turns out, I'm allergic to the damn weed.
My worst cilantro mishap happened just last night. My Mom bought crab-cakes for dinner. And she knows I'm allergic to cilantro so I assumed she wouldn't buy food with cilantro in it. Well, the crab-cakes had cilantro in them (and again, I couldn't taste it because of the Aioli sauce) and that night I had an allergic reaction which resulted in a 24hr headache, having difficulty breathing and "other" unpleasant side-effects.
I don't try to warn other's against cilantro, but everyone knows I loathe it. Most people actually understand my hate for cilantro and admit that it takes time to get used to the flavor. I will never get used to the flavor, nor will I ever. I love food, but I will ALWAYS hate cilantro and I always have even before I developed an allergy to it.
LCY \ Bay Area, CA, United States
My first experience with this noxious greenery, I was maybe 20, and was trying a new mexican restaurant. I couldn't have told you what was in my food (soapily tainting every bite) then...and to be quite honest, I thought some idiot in the back had passed my food near a soapy sink and a slop of nasty water had hit it. You never know what is going on back there...obviously, I never went back. Fast fwd a couple years ago...I decide to try fixing something that called for cilantro. I bought some. As I opened the packaging and the reek hit my nose...I had a flashback to that mexican restaurant. Aha! I had identified the criminal!
And there is no avoiding it somehow. What is going on? The last 5 years or so, it seems cilantro is creeping into everything. Stop to grab a quick taco...there is as much cilantro as lettuce!! And you are starving and hate wasting money, so you choke it down. And you stare suspiciously at spring rolls...hoping and fearing that you won't run into your culinary nemesis...but "gotcha!" they sneak it in there somehow.
And trying to explain to people that cilatro tastes wrong to you, elicts strange looks the likes of a wildhaired nutjob sneaking out the backdoor of the asylum still wearing a straight-jacket would engender.
Stop the madness! A world full of savory spices and herbs, and everyone is suddenly gaga over this soapy weed? Give us a break!
Joy-Lyn \ Anchorage, AK, United States
Please contribute YOUR cilantro story.