The One Food Ina Garten Simply Can't Stand

Cilantro is a green herb that is used to flavor a myriad of dishes from a variety of cultures in Indian, Mexican, Asian, and Middle Eastern recipes. Most people use the green herb in its fresh form as it doesn't dry well. Its leaves are flat like parsley, which makes sense because it is from the parsley family. And its taste is sometimes described as pungent, lemony, or peppery (via The Spruce Eats).

For those who love the herb, it might be surprising to learn that some people do not. In fact, the herb can be quite divisive. Haiku dedicated to cilantro hating can be found on a Facebook page appropriately called "I Hate Cilantro." Even the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten dislikes the herb. Why does Ina Garten hate cilantro? 

During Vice's Munchies podcast (via Cooking Light), Garten revealed she hates cilantro because, to her, it takes like soap and has a strong overpowering flavor. Cilantro tasting like soap might sound crazy, but Garten is not alone in her feelings. One Facebook user wrote on the "I Hate Cilantro" Facebook page: "Cilantro just sucks. It tastes like soapy grossness! Just give us parsley!"

How can an herb have such a different taste to different people and inspire such a range of emotions?

Why do people dislike cilantro?

In 2012 two studies were published that took a look at the genetics of lovers and haters of cilantro. The results linked the dislike to specific genes involved in taste and smell, however, they also concluded that while the genes can impact our aversion to cilantro, the effects are not as great as previously believed. One study in California asked 25,000 people whether they liked cilantro or if they thought it smelled like soap. Looking at the DNA of this sample group, they discovered that an odor detecting gene which can recognize the soapy smell in cilantro's bouquet is the culprit and contributes to the dislike of cilantro (via NPR).

The second study can be found in the journal Chemical Senses. 527 twins were asked if they liked the taste of cilantro and whether or not it smelled good. These researchers found three additional genes that contribute to our feelings about cilantro. Two of the genes influence our taste buds and bitter foods and the other gene is responsible for stinky smells. This study also concluded that while the hatred of cilantro is genetic, the genes are not so strong that they cannot be changed.

That's good news for Ina Garten and cilantro haters alike. You can conquer your hate for this herb and build up a tolerance, or be like Julia Childs, another cilantro hater, and just throw it on the floor.