I love cilantro. I love it so much I put it in just about everything I can, within reason, of course. It’s the definitive flavor in so many Tex-Mex dishes, that its absence is sorely felt if omitted by one who doesn’t quite feel the same as I. Yes, that’s correct: not everyone loves cilantro. Matter of fact, almost 40% of the population believes cilantro tastes like soap. It’s true; I’ve seen some hard data on this phenomenon, and while I can’t understand it, I just have to accept it.
I grew up with cilantro—it was probably one of the first leafy, green things I’d eat without any argument. Everyone in my family grows it, and my uncle in Austin has taken to spreading the seeds all over the city in hopes they will take root and cilantro plants will flourish all over--like bluebonnets or Indian paintbrush. We call him Johnny Cilantroseed. So when you have a naive worldview like myself, if I like something, then everyone else must like it, right? Wrong.
My first brush with someone not liking cilantro was when I made my favorite salsa for a friend. This guy had a voracious appetite and he devoured and raved about everything I cooked, until I offered him the hot sauce. I placed the bowl in front of him, pushed over a basket of chips and asked him to try it. He dipped his chip, took a bite and said four words: “It tastes like cilantro.” I brightened: “Yes! Yes! I used almost two cups. Isn’t it great?” He was silent for a few moments. Then he asked for a glass of water, politely excused himself, and, well, I haven’t seen him since. I guess he doesn’t like cilantro.
More recently, Melissa made my recipe for hot sauce and conceded on her blog that she didn’t include the recommended cilantro because it tastes like soap to her. Now, I don’t care if someone likes or doesn’t like cilantro--to me it’s just their loss if they don’t. But actually, it may be more than just a matter of preference: some say that there’s an actual genetic predisposition toward thinking cilantro tastes like soap. Imagine that! Those poor people, how they must suffer.
So what’s your verdict? Soap or not? And this is the most perplexing thing of all to me: what does soap taste like and how do you know? Were you prone to say naughty words as a child?
Monday, September 25, 2006