on cilantro, soap and statistics.

over the years, i've developed the theory that the world is divided between those that think that cilantro tastes like soap and those that don't. the former group, of which i am a member, can not in anyway understand why anyone would want to eat soap and the latter group often thinks the other group is daft for thinking their beloved garnishment tastes awful.


after years of informal surveys, i had become convinced that about 40-50% of the general population falls into the "cilantro sucks and it tastes like soap" category and at first glance it looks like the stats at ihatecilantro support my theory. but unfortunately the chart really indicates that only 42% of the website members ( the vast majority of whom presumably already hate cilantro ) think it tastes like soap, leaving the question open as to what percentage of the population thinks cilantro tastes lovely and not even remotely close to doll hair or stink bugs.


clearly, more research is needed. [ via ]

  • doctorlizardo 9y

    Yes! Totally, soap. Luck for me my
    husband respects that and doesn't try
    to force me to eat it when he cooks
    curries, but puts it on his own,

    It must be a recessive gene, from
    what I've been able to make out.

    I think they should actually make
    cilantro soap. It would only be
    fitting (though perhaps a bit
    logically recursive.)
  • Eric C Snowdeal III 9y

    for some reason i feel compelled to add that my other long standing theory was that the world is divided into those that think that asparagus makes pee stink and those that have no idea what the "stinkers" are talking about.

    i hypothesized that all people are, in fact, stinkers but some couldn't smell the stink. but i never could bring myself to do a proper study. luckily, i was rescued from my own curiousity when i discovered that the skinny on asparagus pee:

    "...just 22 percent of survey respondents experience asparagus pee.

    Early investigators thought genetics had divided the world into stinkers and nonstinkers. That was until 1980, when three researchers had the presence of mind to wave pee from the nonstinkers under the noses of the stinkers.

    Lo and behold, the problem proved to be one not of producing the stinky pee but of being able to sniff it out."
  • Candy R 9y

    I can see where you get that cilantro tastes like soap, but who eats straight cilantro? Mushrooms taste like dirt until you add other flavors to them.

    I do think asparagus makes pee smell funny. I can also smell antibiotics in pee - a very distinct smell.
  • doctorlizardo 9y

    But cilantro still tastes like soap even *in* things. Curry sauce with soap? Hey, don't mind if I do!


    This conversation is clearly heading towards "does cilantro make funny-smelling pee?"
  • Amanda Nordstrom 9y

    I find that rather hard to believe, Snowdeal. I don't have that problem when I eat asparagus, though my husband does. Yet my sense of smell is more acute than his; even more so when I'm pregnant!
  • *Rick* 9y

    I like cilantro once in a while. I never thought of it as tasting like soap. I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I have some. I was surprised when I found out that the chinese cook with it a lot. I always thought it was a mexican thing. Did you know that cilantro is the leaves of the coriander plant and it's an aphrodisiac?

    As for the asparagus pee thing, I just heard about that a few years ago and had never noticed the effect until just recently, but I usually try to avoid smelling my pee and it's usally kinda stinky anyway.

    Isn't all this sharing fun?

    What I want to know is how you know what doll hair and stink bugs taste like.
  • angineer 9y

    Love this graphic. I hate cilantro, but I think I fall into the stink bug category more than the soap category.

    Also, thanks for sharing about the asparagus pee. I always wondered if I was the only one who'd ever noticed that. :)
  • Jed Sundwall 9y

    I get asparagus pee, and I'm proud!

    Re: Cilantro, I'm doing my own research.
  • Princess Kim 8y

    I'm obsessed with cilantro. Mexican food would be nothing without it! When I was pregnant, I ate it as often as I could. My daughter doesn't even eat it, though. More evidence that cilantro is great (or else I'm just crazy about it): For The Love Of Cilantro
  • Den D 8y

    "Mexican food would be nothing without it!" What a gross (in both senses) exaggeration! And being pregnant and enjoying it is not a proper testimonial! It’s more of a physiological explanation that gives you a pass from having to seek professional help for your obsession! Pickles and ice cream, need I say more!

    There are plenty of Mexican dishes that don't include the soapweed. Many of the testimonial on ihatecilantro.com speak to the fact that until it became trendy in the late 1990’s to dump bushels of it on food (OK, that my own gross exaggeration, but that’s what it seemed like to me), many perfectly good Mexican restaurants didn’t use it in their salsa or in most of their dishes.

    I’m definitely not saying everyone should share my tastes. However, it is interesting that the perception of a soapy taste to cilantro may, in fact, be a single-gene trait. I always figured those who developed a taste (or lack there of) for cilantro were exhibiting some sort of “Emperors New Clothes” effect. Let’s face it; there are some people who would eat dog feces in a heavy cream sauce and like it if they served it in five star French restaurants or that trendy new bistro at the corner of Shishi Boulevard and Haute Avenue. I attributed the Cilantro Craze to this effect for a long time. And here it turns out to be just genetics. I wonder how many folks who share that enzymatic defect (as I’m sure you see it), choked down that vile weed just to stay trendy with their friends?

    Fortunately, the craze has died down somewhat. Although cilantro remains more widely used as an uncooked ingredient and garnish than it did prior to about ten years ago, it seldom seems to be used to the point where it completely covers entrees or dominates the flavor of salsas.

    At best, it is a spice, not a lettuce substitute.
  • Princess Kim 8y

    I have never had a truly fantastic pico de gallo that didn't contain cilantro. True, being pregnant is no "proper testimonial" for liking cilantro, but to me, it's not a bizarre food. It's been years since my pregnancy, and I could still eat cilantro by the bunch. I'd much rather "choke down that vile weed" than say, drink an Orange Julius, or eat licorice. I just like the flavor. I would agree that it is most definitely a spice and not a lettuce substitute, although I don't really like lettuce and think of it as a cheap filler in dishes. If it is genetics, then my daughter is a mutant (in the sense of being one who has experienced a genetic mutation), because my husband and I both have the cilantro-love gene, and she HATES it.
  • doctorlizardo 8y

    It's basically just similar to that "taster-non-taster" test strip many of us did in high-school science class to demonstrate genetics.

    It's not an issue of an acquired taste, like Stilton cheese, raw oysters, or kimchee.

    If you're a cilantro-soap taster, it's never going to taste like anything but SOAP, no matter how it's gussied up.

    If you're not a cilantro-soap taster, try to imagine that for those of us who are, the sauce may taste like a lovely tomato-and-onion puree...with Irish Spring sprinkled into it! Eewww.
  • Spacecat, San Francisco 8y

    I always thought it tasted like dial soap, but that's what I liked about it. It was nostalgic- reminded me of being a small child in a bathtub with a bar of soap in my mouth. Mmmmm.

    Although I thought it tasted like soap, the flavor never offended me. Over time, I broke the cilantro-soap association and grew to love the stuff and the way it enhances other foods that it's added to.

    I'm pretty sure I don't have the cilantro-hating gene. My ex-girlfriend couldn't stand the stuff to the point that she wouldn't eat a meal if cilantro had been on the plate. She also had an aversion to anise- related perhaps?
  • duisburgbunny 8y

    Cilantro has a strong, but very pleasant and fresh flavor to me. My mom says to her it tastes a bit soapy. Interestingly, I didn't taste anything but paper on that PTC test we did as kids, but my mom tasted the horrible bitter flavor. Maybe there's a connection with cilantro then too? I've heard some say that we "non-tasters" can't taste when something is "bad" or poisonous (or contains cilantro, lol), but I can detect the smallest hint of rancid oil or if meat or dairy is just barely starting to go bad when everyone else (including "tasters") thinks it's perfectly edible, so so much for that theory. It must suck to have to hate cilantro. I guess for me the equivalent is licorice. It makes me literally gag.
  • Micheal Jewel 7y

    I just happened to stumble upon this by accident and I must say I find this subject fascinating. I was just telling a coworker earlier today that I preffer oysters raw because once you cook them they aquire a very subtle soapy flavor.

    I also mentioned that avocados have a very soapy flavor to me, that nobody else seems to be able to detect. I also recalled that when I was in college we had to do a biology lab to see if we possesed the genetic trait to be able to taste Phenylthiocarbamide. I was the only student in the class who couldn't taste it.

    To me, cilantro tastes absolutley nothing like soap I would describe it as a cross between minty and savory. I really wonder if there is some genetic factor that causes people to perceive a soapy flavor. Much like the genotype for the receptor to taste PTC.
  • theresa 6y

    Really? Not NEARLY that many people I've spoken to share my hatred for it. I think that maybe perhaps your conversing with cilantro-haters might be a bit higher than the average.

    Honestly, I've never met another person who hates it. Really. I have expressed my detest for it to almost everyone I know, and all I've ever received was a dumbfounded expression and "Really, huh, that's weird." I highly highly doubt it's anywhere near 40-50%.

    I think the pie chart, but a few of the colors are too similar and make it a little difficult to read.

    I fall under the "soap" category. More specifically, I think it tastes like public restroom.
  • Eric C Snowdeal III 6y

  • Sara 5y

  • i_m_capricious 4y

    my people! at last...
    cilantro = soapy
  • Edward Vielmetti 4y


    "Aroma profiles of fresh herbs of cilantro (Coriandrum sativum L.), culantro (Eryngium foetidum L.) and Vietnamese coriander (Polygonium odoratum L.) were compared by direct solvent extraction, gas chromatography-olfactometry and aroma extract dilution analysis. Among the three herbs, the key aroma components of C. sativum and E. foetidum were most similar and consisted of mainly 2-alkenals and n-aldehydes. On the other hand, P. odoratum contained mostly decanal and dodecanal, with 2-alkenals being notably absent in this herb. C. sativum and E. foetidum were found to differ in volatile composition, with (E)-2-alkenals from C9-C16 and decanal being predominant in C. sativum, while E. foetidum contained mostly (E)-2-dodecenal. (E)-2-Alkenals, in particular (E)-2-dodecenal, were most closely associated with characteristic aromas of C. sativum and E. foetidum herbs; whereas, decanal and dodecanal were the characterizing components of P. odoratum aroma."
0 faves
Uploaded on April 17, 2006

Additional info

  • Viewing this photo Public
  • Safety level of this photo Safe
  • S Search
    Photo navigation
    < > Thumbnail navigation
    Z Zoom
    B Back to context