Cilantro. Coriander. Chinese parsley. Different names, same herb—the one people love to hate.
If you’re not part of the I Hate Cilantro club (which is an actual club, btw), you’re probably wondering why there’s so much hatred towards the delicious, pungent plant that adds so much flavor to your vegetarian chilli.
If you *are* a cilantrophobe, you probably cringed at that last sentence, and if cilantro finds its way to your plate, you may throw it across the room in disgust. That’s because for you, it tastes like a heaping bowl of soap suds, or maybe even creepy, crawly little bugs. Bleh.
What’s the reason for this mass distaste for cilantro? Cilantro haters, rejoice: Science says it’s an actual thing—and you may be born with it.
Cilantro contains chemical compounds called aldehydes, which contribute to its unique flavor and scent. The kicker? Aldehydes are also found in soaps, lotions, and certain bugs. People who detect these strange-tasting compounds may have genetic traits (specifically, different smell- and bitter-taste receptor genes) that make them more sensitive to that soap- or bug-like flavor.
So if you do loathe the stuff, are you doomed to this cilantro-dispising fate forever? Maybe not.
Crushing cilantro may actually speed up the breakdown of aldehyde molecules, which may lessen or remove that sudsy flavor. So if you’re aching to try it, grind it up and add it to your Mexican scramble or guacamole, or try making a pesto out of it.
If you’re a proud member of the I Hate Cilantro club and you intend to stay that way, go ahead, throw it across the room. We won’t tell.