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  #1  
Old 05-19-2005, 09:53 PM
EarthStone777 EarthStone777 is offline
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Cilantro allergy?

In my reply in this thread What are you allergic to? I listed Cilantro as something I'm allergic to... but I just Googled and can't find any thing about allergies to cilantro.

I first heard about it years ago from a friend who said she was allergic to it and that the allergic reaction is that it tastes like soap. Given that I always thought that many mexican restaurants didn't wash their plates very well because often the food tasted like soap, it struck a chord in me. I tasted some dishes specifically where the only difference was the addition of cilantro and found that, yes, it did taste like soap to me. I've mentioned it to many people over the years and found others who think it also has a soapy taste. Of course I've also found people who love the taste of it.

So, my question is... Has anyone else heard about this? Does anyone have Cites or proof of it?
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  #2  
Old 05-19-2005, 10:03 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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Cilantro is an acquired taste. Many people say it tastes like soap the first time they tried it. I don't think it indicates any allergy.
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  #3  
Old 05-19-2005, 10:14 PM
FilmGeek FilmGeek is offline
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You're not allergic, you just don't like the stuff. Lots of people say it tastes like soap.

I'm not allergic to lobster, but I think it tastes like ass.
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  #4  
Old 05-20-2005, 01:31 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Not allergic to it, but it tastes like soap to me too, and to our roommate, but mrAru likes it.

I always heard that it was related to genetics, whatever that horrible nasty ass chemical is they make you taste in bio class in high school that some certain percentage can taste [or not depending on which part of the taster/nontaster line you are] and it is also somehow related to asparagus smell in urine, and tasting sweetness in saccharine [?] or having it taste bitter.

rolls tongue into a tube not ruffles, tastes that chemical, that artificial sweetener tastes nasty, AB- blood, reddish brown hair, blue eyes, pasty white skin that burns and freckles but doesnt tan, and aleve might as well be M&Ms for all the effect it has.
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Old 05-20-2005, 03:46 AM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EarthStone777
In my reply in this thread What are you allergic to? I listed Cilantro as something I'm allergic to... but I just Googled and can't find any thing about allergies to cilantro.

I first heard about it years ago from a friend who said she was allergic to it and that the allergic reaction is that it tastes like soap. Given that I always thought that many mexican restaurants didn't wash their plates very well because often the food tasted like soap, it struck a chord in me. I tasted some dishes specifically where the only difference was the addition of cilantro and found that, yes, it did taste like soap to me. I've mentioned it to many people over the years and found others who think it also has a soapy taste. Of course I've also found people who love the taste of it.

So, my question is... Has anyone else heard about this? Does anyone have Cites or proof of it?
It tastes like soap to me too. I do notice if it is not in some traditional dishes, but I remove it if I see it. A little goes a long way and the amount they usually use to me is too much. I may not be an allergy but a sensitivity.
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Old 05-20-2005, 04:43 AM
Manduck Manduck is offline
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It used to taste like soap to me, but now it doesn't. I think you lose the sensitivity to it if you keep on trying.
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Old 05-20-2005, 05:08 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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This taps into one of my pet peeves - this is NOT an allergy at all. Insisting every little food quirk is an allergy just makes life more difficult for those of us who actually have genuine food allergies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aruvqan
I always heard that it was related to genetics, whatever that horrible nasty ass chemical is they make you taste in bio class in high school that some certain percentage can taste [or not depending on which part of the taster/nontaster line you are]
Yes, this is the thing.

"Soapy Cilantro taste" (SCT) is genetically based. The ability to perceive the SCT depends on a recessive gene. Those who do not carry the gene will enjoy cilantro from the first bite.

Those who carry one copy may or may not taste SCT, but those who "acquire a taste" for the vile plant (guess which camp I fall into) are heterozygous, meaning they have one gene that carries the trait, and one that does not. But those among the heterozygous who taste SCT do not have as intense experience as our last group.

Those who carry two copies of the SCT gene hate cilantro, and always will. It's not a matter of attitude or acquiring a taste - it's that biting into a piece of cilantro tastes EXACTLY like biting into a bar of soap, and always will. Even a small amount can render a dish of food nauseating.

There's no treatment and no "cure" - because nothing is really wrong here. It's like blue eyes vs. brown eyes, just normal human variation at work.

It does mean, though, that some of us ate out less often when cilantro got treandy for a bit awhile back.
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Old 05-20-2005, 05:18 AM
flodnak flodnak is offline
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Certain other foods also taste different to different people, depending on particular genes. For instance, all members of the cabbage family (which includes cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli) contain a chemical that most people are unable to taste. For some of us, however, it tastes strongly bitter, making it difficult or impossible to enjoy any of these vegetables. I was very surprised to read, in an article about cooking for children, that lightly steamed broccoli was a good vegetable to introduce early, before kids pick up too many social cues about food, because "it is a mild-tasting vegetable that most toddlers can learn to enjoy." Mild-tasting?!? Who'd'a thunk it?

But that's not an allergy. One of my sons says raw apples make the inside of his mouth itch. That might be an allergy. (We haven't had him tested, but we also don't try to coax him to eat apples any more.) A speck of broccoli just makes me want to spit it out and brush my mouth out until the taste goes away. That's no allergy, it's just my little quirk....
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2005, 07:03 AM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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I'm a soapy taster, too. The first (and only) time I tried pho, I felt really bad about it because the friend we were staying with had gone out of his way to get good Vietnamese food and I couldn't even take a full bite. It tasted exactly like Ivory soap, and the taste would NOT go away, so I ended up not being able to eat anything in that meal.
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  #10  
Old 05-20-2005, 07:30 AM
EarthStone777 EarthStone777 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick
This taps into one of my pet peeves - this is NOT an allergy at all. Insisting every little food quirk is an allergy just makes life more difficult for those of us who actually have genuine food allergies.
This is Exactly why I love the Dope so much. Finally decide to post a question that has bugged me for the last decade, go to bed, and wake up to find the answer waiting for me. Thanks everyone!

Broomstick, I will do my best to find every person I mentioned it to since I was incorrectly informed and give them the straight dope on the truth.

Quote:
Those who carry one copy may or may not taste SCT, but those who "acquire a taste" for the vile plant (guess which camp I fall into) are heterozygous, meaning they have one gene that carries the trait, and one that does not. But those among the heterozygous who taste SCT do not have as intense experience as our last group.
I suspect that I fall into this camp, as I can now stand dishes that have small amounts of cilantro in it. It will never be something I seek out, but at least I can eat it.

Just curious Broomstick how is this something that you know? I've tried googling cilantro and allergies to no avail. What course of study teaches about genetics changing the taste of food?
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  #11  
Old 05-20-2005, 07:35 AM
EarthStone777 EarthStone777 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flodnak
Certain other foods also taste different to different people, depending on particular genes. For instance, all members of the cabbage family (which includes cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli) contain a chemical that most people are unable to taste. For some of us, however, it tastes strongly bitter, making it difficult or impossible to enjoy any of these vegetables. I was very surprised to read, in an article about cooking for children, that lightly steamed broccoli was a good vegetable to introduce early, before kids pick up too many social cues about food, because "it is a mild-tasting vegetable that most toddlers can learn to enjoy." Mild-tasting?!? Who'd'a thunk it?
That would explain my father! As a kid, my mom would make all of those vegetables and we'd both love them. But my father wouldn't touch them to save his life. Thanks flodnak! I'll be passing that info on to lots of people.
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Old 05-20-2005, 07:39 AM
EarthStone777 EarthStone777 is offline
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Feh! Hit Submit too early. Intended to add...

I never understood how he could dislike them so much. Especially tender, fresh brussels sprouts steamed with a little butter are so mild and sweet that they are like a dessert for me.
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  #13  
Old 05-20-2005, 10:38 AM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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EarthStone777: Be among friends

Personally, I love the stuff.
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  #14  
Old 05-20-2005, 10:46 AM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is online now
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I don't see the name anywhere in the thread, so, just to make sure, have you also looked for people having problems with coriander? Same stuff.
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  #15  
Old 05-20-2005, 10:50 AM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethilrist
I don't see the name anywhere in the thread, so, just to make sure, have you also looked for people having problems with coriander? Same stuff.
I've never, to my knowledge, had coriander or anything with coriander in it. Considering that they're different parts of the plant, I'm not sure the effect would be the same. But I don't have any firsthand knowledge either way.
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  #16  
Old 05-20-2005, 11:05 AM
La Llorona La Llorona is offline
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Semi-related question that just occurred to me:

What is cilantro actually supposed to taste like, besides soapy?

I've had some of the same dishes with cilantro and without it, and upon reflection, I can't recall that I've ever noticed it having a distinct taste. Never eaten straight cilantro, though...maybe I should try it.



Ooh, maybe I have a Gene That Prevents Me From Tasting Cilantro! Or maybe I'm just really unobservant...
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  #17  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:08 PM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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Cilantro is supposed to taste like fresh deliciousness...hard to explain. Kind of a variation on mint is about the best description I can give. Fans of Pico de Gallo have had much cilantro whether they knew it or not, so, La Llorona, maybe that's you.
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  #18  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:11 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
I've never, to my knowledge, had coriander or anything with coriander in it. Considering that they're different parts of the plant, I'm not sure the effect would be the same. But I don't have any firsthand knowledge either way.
Well, not quite. Coriander is another name for cilantro. In the US, the word "coriander" is generally reserved for the seed of the coriander plant, but in most of the rest of the English speaking world, coriander is understood to mean the herb and not the spice.

I, for one, can graze on coriander/cilantro. I've heard coriander called the world's most popular herb, although similar claims have been made for parsley and oregano. Judging my coriander's ubiquity in everything but European cuisine, I wouldn't be surprised if it is.
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  #19  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:19 PM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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Although I can't argue with my taste buds, this almost made me doubt cilantro's prowess.

Spoiler: Apparently cilantro was so named because of it's similarity to the scent of crushed bedbugs. It was also used to cover the stench/taste of rotten meat in old Europe. A sordid past.

I still love you baby.
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  #20  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:46 PM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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An aside:
Dear Cilantro haters,

Are you also turned off by fennel? Everyone I know who can't handle the "soapy" cilantro flavor finds fennel equally vile. Just curious.
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  #21  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:47 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmonster
An aside:
Dear Cilantro haters,

Are you also turned off by fennel? Everyone I know who can't handle the "soapy" cilantro flavor finds fennel equally vile. Just curious.
Just to clarify, what part of fennel? Bulb, leaf, or seed?
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Old 05-20-2005, 01:16 PM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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I believe the bulb...
The people I know hate all of them though. The bulb stands out in my head. In fact, any of them. What are the feelings of the anti-cilantro consortium?
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  #23  
Old 05-20-2005, 01:32 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmonster
I believe the bulb...
The people I know hate all of them though. The bulb stands out in my head. In fact, any of them. What are the feelings of the anti-cilantro consortium?
That's interesting, and not something I'd have made a connection with. I can't stand fennel seed. If I see one in sausage or something, I have to pick it out before I'll go on eating. It doesn't ruin the rest of the meal the way cilantro does, though.
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  #24  
Old 05-20-2005, 02:23 PM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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Weird. You are the sixth out of six people I know with this dual hatred. Anyone else?
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  #25  
Old 05-20-2005, 02:56 PM
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I must be some kind of mutant. I love the taste of fennel, but am not so wild about cilantro.

It's not patently disgusting, but it does taste soapy, and is easily overdone by zealous cooks.

I don't hate it- some dishes just wouldn't be right without it- pico de gallo, pho', some Indian dishes, but I'm not exactly the sort that thinks that a cilantro pesto would be particularly good either.
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Old 05-20-2005, 03:01 PM
Birdmonster Birdmonster is offline
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bump: you have crushed my theory. I may never forgive you. But then again, your distaste for cilantro is not as severe as others I know (who would never say "not so wild" when they could say "turd-flavored" or "vile"). But you do have the soapy taste thing. So strange, so strange.
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  #27  
Old 05-20-2005, 03:57 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmonster
I believe the bulb...
The people I know hate all of them though. The bulb stands out in my head. In fact, any of them. What are the feelings of the anti-cilantro consortium?
Put me down as BLARGH when it comes to fennel, any part=)
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  #28  
Old 05-20-2005, 06:11 PM
istara istara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmGeek
I'm not allergic to lobster, but I think it tastes like ass.
Ditto. I love a lot of weird and gourmet food: eg raw oysters, squid, prawns, raw tuna, caviar, anchovies, but lobster is either bland or foul, unless it's cooked with so many spices you can't taste the lobster.

I had a weird taste thing happen with Butter-Popcorn flavour Jelly Belly beans. I used to adore them, and one summer I bought them a couple of a times a week for several weeks (with other flavours).

Then one day the Jelly Bellies tasted like chemicals. I figured I'd got a bad batch so I bought some more. Chemicals. I waited a week and bought them from somewhere else. Chemicals. All the other flavours still tasted fine.

Roll forward months and even years. They still taste like chemicals to me. It greatly annoys me, because I want that lovely buttery flavour back that I used to adore so much. But my tastebuds just can't perceive it any more.
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Old 05-20-2005, 06:55 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EarthStone777
Just curious Broomstick how is this something that you know? I've tried googling cilantro and allergies to no avail. What course of study teaches about genetics changing the taste of food?
Well, for starters, I do in fact have genuine food allergies, so I know what those are all about (unfortunately)

But I also have a fascination with human variation, and I work with medical researchers, which has allowed me to note many curious facts about the human species.
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  #30  
Old 05-20-2005, 07:47 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Hmm. I hate cilantro with a passion usually reserved for those who murder members of one's immediate family. A dish that has even the slightest amount of cilantro is impossible for me to eat. I freeze the second I put it into my mouth (unknowing) and need to work up the courage to swallow it.

And yet, it doesn't taste like soap. It just tastes BAD.

Also amusing - it took me many years to figure out why my hatred of coriander (the leaf) and cilantro was related.
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  #31  
Old 05-20-2005, 08:13 PM
mike1dog mike1dog is offline
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My sister claims to be allergic to Cilantro. She claims it made her violently ill one time when a co-worker brought a dish to work that was overly spiced with it.
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