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  #1  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:43 AM
brianjedi brianjedi is offline
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Why does cilantro taste like soap?

So I'm eating a Chipotle burrito (steak, pinto beans, rice) and I notice that the cilantro-lime rice tastes more like... Ivory soap-lime rice.

I've heard that other people think cilantro tastes like soap, so I'm guessing I didn't get an Irish Spring burrito. Why, though, does cilantro taste like soap, and who thought that was a positive characteristic in flavoring food?
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:52 AM
Phrontist Phrontist is offline
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You are not alone:

http://www.ihatecilantro.com/taste.php

Quote:
Cilantro may taste like:

- cheap cologne
- Mildew
- dirty water
- smell of old coins
- perfume
- chlorine
- Soapy dark dirt
- rancid metallic soap
- lemon washing up liquid
- ear wax
- Dirt
- sucking on a dryer vent
- garbage babies
- mud
- Battery juice
- Ivory Soap
- scotch tape
- soap
- Toxic Metal Cleaner
- skunk
- metal
- dandelions
- mildew
- stink bugs
- rotten eggs
- burnt rubber
- doll hair
- rotting meat
  #3  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:53 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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It only tastes like soap to some people. It's suspected, but not proven, that there's a recessive gene that allows a minority of people to detect the soap tasting compounds in cilantro. To the rest of us, it doesn't taste like soap.

So order your food without cilantro. It's not a matter of acquiring a taste for it - it doesn't taste like that to people who like it.
  #4  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:55 AM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence online that the soap taste of cilantro/coriander only applies to some people. A genetic basis of this has been mooted, but I can't find anything terribly authoritative. Maybe someone with access to PubMed or something can find a decent cite.
  #5  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:56 AM
Phrontist Phrontist is offline
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The most popular (unsubstantiated) internet hypothesis seems to be there finding cilantro to taste like something is largely determined by your genes.
  #6  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:57 AM
Phrontist Phrontist is offline
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...should've probably hit reload before posting.
  #7  
Old 12-02-2006, 12:08 PM
Squink Squink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
A genetic basis of this has been mooted...
This theory is not without precedent. It's long been know that there's a genetic component to the ability to taste Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC).
  #8  
Old 12-02-2006, 12:19 PM
Quiddity Glomfuster Quiddity Glomfuster is offline
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It tastes like fresh air to me. I love it madly.
  #9  
Old 12-02-2006, 12:49 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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I'm another soap-taster. But I LURVES me some Chipotel! When I'm blessed enough to be in a region where I have the opportunity to order at Chipotle, I forego the rice. I'm getting enough carbohydrates from the tortilla. It's the barbacoa I really want, anyway...when I was visiting Houston earlier this year, I really, really wanted to ship about 20 pounds of barbacoa home and freeze it, to give my tastebuds a treat on occasion.
  #10  
Old 12-02-2006, 12:52 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrontist's link
Garbage babies
What in the world is a garbage baby? I've searched but most hits reference either this cilantro-haters list or a band (I guess) of the same name.

I love cilantro but recognize that soapy flavor it can sometimes have.
  #11  
Old 12-02-2006, 12:56 PM
cmyk cmyk is offline
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Count me among the soap-tasters. It's SO bad, that even the tiniest amount will make simple salsa taste like it was made using Palmolive instead of tomatoes. THAT bad. HORRIBLE.

What does it taste like to the non-soap tasters? Something akin to parsley or oregano? Cuz I love parsley and oregano. Man, I wish I knew what flavor I am missing, and everyone else seems to adore.
  #12  
Old 12-02-2006, 12:58 PM
GingerOfTheNorth GingerOfTheNorth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiddity Glomfuster
It tastes like fresh air to me. I love it madly.
That is the best description I've ever seen for what cilantro tastes like to me.
  #13  
Old 12-02-2006, 01:07 PM
Bobotheoptimist Bobotheoptimist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiddity Glomfuster
It tastes like fresh air to me. I love it madly.
That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard. Cilantro tastes like hate. Distilled green hate... in exactly the same way that pineapple doesn't.
  #14  
Old 12-02-2006, 01:09 PM
Hypnagogic Jerk Hypnagogic Jerk is offline
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I wouldn't call the taste of cilantro "soap-like", but rather "burnt rubber like", as described in Phrontist's list. Or more accurately, to me it smells and tastes like rubber bands that have been stretched in such ways that they are now hot and give off a burn-like odour. No, I don't especially like this taste.
  #15  
Old 12-02-2006, 01:24 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmyk
Count me among the soap-tasters. It's SO bad, that even the tiniest amount will make simple salsa taste like it was made using Palmolive instead of tomatoes. THAT bad. HORRIBLE.
That's my level of soap-tasting as well. The first time I ever had cilantro (I led a sheltered life) was when we were visiting a friend in DC and he ordered out Vietnamese. I tried the pho and goddamn if it didn't taste like someone washed the bowl in Ivory soap and didn't rinse it out. And the taste stuck in my mouth for HOURS! I couldn't eat anything else all night because I still had a bar of Ivory in there...
  #16  
Old 12-02-2006, 01:43 PM
Shoeless Shoeless is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
So order your food without cilantro. It's not a matter of acquiring a taste for it - it doesn't taste like that to people who like it.
I'm not sure if this is possible at Chipotle, since they mix it in with the rice. Then again, I've never tried. Maybe they've got a stash of cilantro-less rice hidden in back somewhere.
  #17  
Old 12-02-2006, 01:54 PM
susan susan is offline
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I can taste the component of which you speak, but mildly, in a pleasant way. I know that some people find it vile. In fact, the only two foods I can name in Vietnamese are pho and cilantro because one of my classmates was adamant about learning to say, "No thank you. I do not like cilantro."
  #18  
Old 12-02-2006, 02:10 PM
Rushgeekgirl Rushgeekgirl is offline
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It tastes like soap to both my daughter and me. It's so bad that even a hint of it ruins a full meal. Not only does it taste bad, it upsets my stomach and leaves the soapy taste in my mouth for hours afterward.
  #19  
Old 12-02-2006, 02:46 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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I'm a soap taster too, but not every time. I've always been a little weird...
  #20  
Old 12-02-2006, 03:39 PM
Rysdad Rysdad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobotheoptimist
That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard. Cilantro tastes like hate. Distilled green hate... in exactly the same way that pineapple doesn't.
Excellent description, if distilled green hate tasted like a runoff from a toxic dump landfill.

To me it tastes burnt and chemical-y at the same time. Just a teensy bit of cilantro in anything absolutely ruins it. As I've said before, I'd happily Agent Orange the fields where it is grown and then salt the fields.
  #21  
Old 12-02-2006, 03:49 PM
the PC apeman the PC apeman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
... I'd happily Agent Orange the fields where it is grown and then salt the fields.
Oooh, don't do that. Some of us find it quite tasty. I grow it just outside my kitchen door. I like adding very fresh cilantro to a variety of dishes.
  #22  
Old 12-02-2006, 04:15 PM
Mighty_Girl Mighty_Girl is offline
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There are people who don't love cilantro? Wow, learn something new every day. And yes, it tastes like fresh air.

FWIW, Dominican food relies heavily on cilantro. You have been warned.
  #23  
Old 12-02-2006, 04:21 PM
susan susan is offline
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Quote:
Distilled green hate... in exactly the same way that pineapple doesn't.
Mmm.... Pineapple and cilantro.... Think I'll go make some right now. I'll watch a video about the Vietnam War for the full Agent Orange effect.
  #24  
Old 12-02-2006, 04:28 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shoshana
Mmm.... Pineapple and cilantro.... Think I'll go make some right now. I'll watch a video about the Vietnam War for the full Agent Orange effect.
As long as it's not Good Morning, Vietnam. Not a lot of defoliation going on in that one.
  #25  
Old 12-02-2006, 04:37 PM
susan susan is offline
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Nah, National Geographic. Though maybe The Killing Fields would be better.
  #26  
Old 12-02-2006, 05:33 PM
HockeyGirl HockeyGirl is offline
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Ok.. first post here guys, so apologies if I don't do this right!

I absolutely LOVE cilantro! I can't remember the last time I haven't had a fresh bunch of it in the fridge to make salsa, or just use in various recipes.

Bobby Flay (one of the cooks on Food Network) always says "If you don't like cilantro.. try it AGAIN!!" (He, like me and other cilantro lovers just find it hard to believe anyone could possibly not like it!)

Anyway-- great forum and I'm glad I stumbled across it. (Even if some of its members don't like cilantro.. heh heh! ;o)
  #27  
Old 12-02-2006, 05:40 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
As long as it's not Good Morning, Vietnam. Not a lot of defoliation going on in that one.
Well, except for Robin Williams chewing the scenery.
  #28  
Old 12-02-2006, 05:59 PM
susan susan is offline
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Welcome, HockeyGirl.
  #29  
Old 12-02-2006, 06:21 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag
Well, except for Robin Williams chewing the scenery.
You do realize that "Robin Williams chewing the scenery" describes just about every one of his films?
  #30  
Old 12-02-2006, 07:27 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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I'm weird -- sometimes cilantro tastes slightly like soap to me, but normally it doesn't. I know I've read about the genetic link... but maybe I have only have the gene?

Really, though, if I eat it all by itself and let it linger in my mouth for a good amount of time, then there's just a little hint of soapiness. But put on tacos or made into salsa, well, then it's an essential ingredient.
  #31  
Old 12-02-2006, 07:30 PM
monstro monstro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobotheoptimist
That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard. Cilantro tastes like hate. Distilled green hate... in exactly the same way that pineapple doesn't.
I love you. Marry me now.
  #32  
Old 12-02-2006, 07:33 PM
monstro monstro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picunurse
I'm a soap taster too, but not every time. I've always been a little weird...
I agree (not about you being weird ). I'm always saying how I don't like cilantro, but one time I ate a salad chockful of cilantro, and I liked it. For me, I think it depends on the other flavors that I'm eating it with.
  #33  
Old 12-02-2006, 09:14 PM
teela brown teela brown is online now
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I don't think I've ever seen a salsa without cilantro in it. You cilantro-haters must have a tough time of it if you want salsa on your chips.

I love cilantro. I recently made some mango/onion/habanero/cilantro salsa. Yummy.
  #34  
Old 12-02-2006, 09:15 PM
brianjedi brianjedi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teela brown
I don't think I've ever seen a salsa without cilantro in it. You cilantro-haters must have a tough time of it if you want salsa on your chips.

I love cilantro. I recently made some mango/onion/habanero/cilantro salsa. Yummy.
I knew there was a reason I didn't eat salsa.

I guess I'll just make do with the cilantro-lime rice at Chipotle, unless someone knows what's in the steak marinade.
  #35  
Old 12-02-2006, 09:38 PM
goldenmean1975 goldenmean1975 is offline
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Tastes like stink bugs to me. Or the way things taste after stink bugs have landed on them. I had no idea others tasted it differently. I just thought they liked that flavour and couldn't for the life of me understand why. To me its one of the most foul tastes imaginable. I'm jealous of those who say its like fresh air , must be wonderful!
  #36  
Old 12-02-2006, 09:48 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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When I first experienced cilantro, (about 15 years ago) I thought the taste was weird and a little bitter, perhaps soapy. All the Mexican places around here had cilantro in their salsa, and it was not a flavor I was used to as store-bought salsa did not have it.

However, after a couple of times, I started getting used to the flavor, and now it's perhaps my favorite herb. I simply can't get enough of it. And, to me, it tastes like "green." It's just a very fresh flavor that goes extremely well with an assortment of foods, especially with spicy foods. It just seems to perk everything up and make it taste fresh. It's no wonder it's the world's most widely used herb (or so I have read).
  #37  
Old 12-03-2006, 03:22 AM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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Chinese parsley(cilantro) tastes like soap to me too, but I don't hate it. I actually don't hate it and can stand it in moderation: never raw.
  #38  
Old 12-03-2006, 09:03 AM
Auntbeast Auntbeast is offline
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It tastes like dirty dishwater to me, as a matter of fact, a sinkful of dirty dishes reminds me of cilantro, so the association is pretty tightly linked.

I don't think it is a far cry to believe there is some sort of genetic reason for the difference in peoples experiences. Thnk about that big long list up there. That is a huge variety of descriptions. Cilantro, with it's perceptional weirdness might just make a few workings of our brains a we bit better. It isn't uncommon for pregnant women to develop a more sensitive senseof smell, the theory is that it helps protect the baby better from Mama eating something bad.

Is my aversion to cilantro performing some sort of self-protection or is it an evil plan by all the psychotic cilantro lovers to thereby hoard all the cilantro for themselves? If so, the joke is on them, they can HAVE IT!

Is anyone ambivalent about cilantro? It seems to inspire intense love or hate.
  #39  
Old 12-03-2006, 09:20 AM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auntbeast
Is anyone ambivalent about cilantro? It seems to inspire intense love or hate.
There are certain dishes that IMO just can't be served without cilantro. Carne en su jugo, tacos de cabeza or a good salsa de molcajete. Other than those I don't eat it much. But it is more a question of sanitation here than taste. The street vendors who use it, don't wash it because it becomes soggy so I avoid adding it as a condiment to my fare. At home we use it mainly in the above mentioned dishes and of course disinfect it prior to use.
  #40  
Old 12-03-2006, 09:27 AM
Rysdad Rysdad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBEscapee
tacos de cabeza
Head tacos?!
  #41  
Old 12-03-2006, 10:31 AM
LawMonkey LawMonkey is online now
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I think I'm okiedoke with cilantro. I wonder if there's any correlation between cilantro-lovers/haters and supertasters?
  #42  
Old 12-03-2006, 11:03 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
Head tacos?!
Yep. If it's what CBE is referring to, it's made from a steamed beef head. There's tacos de sesos (brain), tacos de lengua (tongue), and I think "de cabeza" is usually just cheek meat. I've even had a taco de ojo (eyeball) once.

Yeah, for me, no taco would be complete without a topping of onion + cilantro.
  #43  
Old 12-03-2006, 11:57 AM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
So order your food without cilantro. It's not a matter of acquiring a taste for it - it doesn't taste like that to people who like it.
Well, I've aquired a taste for it. 15 or 20 years ago, it tasted like soap to me, but not for at least the last 10 years now. In New Mexico, all the really good stuff has cilantro. I guess I just got desensitized to the soap taste.
  #44  
Old 12-03-2006, 01:16 PM
Brainiac4 Brainiac4 is offline
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Another one here who is not a fan of "soaplantro". Fortunately, in the Midwest, many places do not put cilantro in their salsa, so I didn't encounter it until maybe 15 years ago. My first thought was that the dishes hadn't been thoroughly rinsed. It doesn't taste like Ivory soap to me, it tastes like harsh industrial dishwashing granules. Yuck.
  #45  
Old 12-03-2006, 01:33 PM
medstar medstar is offline
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Like many of the posters here, I LOVE cilantro and can't get enough of it. But I'll have to admit that if it's not absolutely fresh, it starts to taste rather funky. Maybe if you cilantro haters made sure the cilantro was fresh and only added a small amount to your dishes, it would taste better. Other than that, I got nothin'.
  #46  
Old 12-03-2006, 02:05 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
Head tacos?!
Normally that means cheek muscle meat -- not too bad, although I'm glad that no one told me what they were before finding that I liked them. Sometimes, though, you'll find tacos de cabeza which should really be called tacos de cesos (brains) or tacos de lengua (tongue), neither of which I've tried as far as I know (!!).

Cheek is just another muscle, you know. I don't get into other organs too much myself.
  #47  
Old 12-03-2006, 02:10 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
Normally that means cheek muscle meat -- not too bad, although I'm glad that no one told me what they were before finding that I liked them. Sometimes, though, you'll find tacos de cabeza which should really be called tacos de cesos (brains) or tacos de lengua (tongue), neither of which I've tried as far as I know (!!).

Cheek is just another muscle, you know. I don't get into other organs too much myself.
Lengua (tongue) is "just another muscle" as well, not organ meat. It's generally ground or shredded so you can see or feel the icky taste buds. I doubt you'd be able to tell it was tongue in the taco.
  #48  
Old 12-03-2006, 02:21 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
I doubt you'd be able to tell it was tongue in the taco.
There's a double-entendre in there somewhere, I just know it...
  #49  
Old 12-03-2006, 02:28 PM
born too late born too late is offline
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I like cilantro (when it's used properly) in many dishes.

My girlfriend loves cilantro. However, when she plans on cooking with it, she tends to buy a sizable bush of it. The remaining cilantro she doesn't use goes in the fridge where it immediately taints everything within if it's not professionally contained biohazard-style: drinking water, leftovers, you name it. The image I'm trying to convey is a fridge flavor coup, far from bloodless.

All by itself, it smells like sweet rotting garbage. It's a menace.
  #50  
Old 12-03-2006, 02:43 PM
Manduck Manduck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyGirl
Bobby Flay (one of the cooks on Food Network) always says "If you don't like cilantro.. try it AGAIN!!" (He, like me and other cilantro lovers just find it hard to believe anyone could possibly not like it!)
The first few times I tried cilantro, it tasted powerfully of soap, so I stayed away from it for a couple of years. Then I tried it again, and the soap taste was gone! So that may be what he is referring to - cilantro seems to be one of those foods that you can acquire a taste for.
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