Friday, May 23, 2008

Millions of People Hate Cilantro

It's amazing what you can find on the Internet. My wife found A whole community of other people who think that cilantro tastes like metal or soap. There are foods I like and foods I dislike, but there are very few foods that cause the reaction that cilantro does. If I even eat a little bit, my mouth will be irritated for hours. I'm constantly surprised at how incredulous people can be. They love it and can't imagine that not only do I dislike it, but that I can't tolerate even a little bit of it.

I posted a couple of haikus and a story on and thought I'd put them here as well. Haikus first.

Crazy cilantro
Why do people love you so?
You taste like metal.

Cilantro destroys
So much food I love to eat.
I wish it didn't.

My worst experience with cilantro was at a potluck dinner with a Thai theme. I knew that I would have to avoid most of the foods, but that's par for the course. But, I wasn't expecting what happened. I was in the kitchen while someone was preparing Coconut-Cilantro Soup and coconut happens to be something else I have a very strong reaction to (and may be allergic to). But a pot of boiling soup and even a very large bunch of cilantro sitting placidly on the counter seemed innocuous to me. And they were, until the cook tossed the cilantro into the boiling soup. The entire room filled with cilantro fumes and I could barely breathe. I rushed for the door and, of course, nobody but my wife had any idea what was going on.

I hate it when people think I'm "faking it." I have been indignantly served cilantro by people who know I am allergic, as if I could somehow eat it if I wanted to. But I can't -- my reaction to it is that strong. Would they do the same thing with someone allergic to peanuts?

To me, the most frustrating thing is that cilantro's overuse has made so much food that I love inaccessible. For example, it's difficult to find guacamole without it, which ruins a lot of Mexican food. I am constantly surprised by what will have cilantro in it, even when I have told a waiter or waitress that I am allergic.


Derrick said...

I've never viewed the Cilantro thing -- I know a few others who suffer from it -- as an allergy per se, but as a genetic quirk (one way or the other) that makes it taste awful. Like people who have strong reactions to overly bitter foods.

Maybe I'm very picky about what I consider an allergy versus what I consider a strong physical reaction. It's like the asparagus/urine thing. I don't consider that an allergy, just something that makes the next 24 hours unpleasant for the consumer.

Roy Leban said...

Early on, I thought it was an allergy. Then, I thought it wasn't. Now, from what I've read, it is. For me, at least, it's not just a taste issue -- my mouth continues to be bothered for quite some time afterwards.

In contrast, if I taste Saccharin, it tastes absolutely foul, but there is no lingering effect.

But, even if it's not an allergy, it is far easier to tell people I'm allergic than to tell people it tastes like metal. Then, they just argue with me.

Lasing Girl said...

I hate cilantro as well. I tried doing a tiny bit of research to prove to other people (my mother, some friends, etc.) that it is, in fact, POSSIBLE for someone not to like cilantro. I found an article on wikipedia that, as i understand it, says it's genetic. Cilantro haters produce an enzyme that basically makes cilantro taste awful to us (to me it tastes rank, like something is rotting in my mouth). There are two theories: cilantro haters can taste something unpleasent cilantro likers can't OR cilantro likers can taste something pleasent cilantro haters can't.
There used to be a blurb about it on the wikipedia page for coriander, but it seems to have disappeared. In any event, it seems unlikely that we are "allergic" to it as, as far as I can tell, there's no "attacking" per se, but nevertheless as Roy said, it's probably easier to just tell servers/opponents that you're allergic than it is to explain all that.
Just trying to share some anti-cilantro trivia :) it seemed relavant, i hope you find it interesting!

Cancerella said...

I don't know what to call my reaction to cilantro. If I ingest it I suffer from painful stomach bloating, gas that won't pass easily, and eventually the vomiting up of the undigested remains of dinner which my intestines won't accept, pointing out how much smarter my viscera are than my brain.

I offer this accounting as a possible helpful nugget of info and/or a warning to someone else who has a cilantro sensitivity and finds themselves confronted with a bowl of cilantro chutney at an Indian restaurant and they are thinking about dipping into it with that tasty papadum. Word to the soon-to-be-wiser: DON'T DO IT!

Jon Sorocki said...

I always ask if there is cilantro in Mexican or other known genres of food. It is easier to say "I'm allergic" than to explain my own reaction. Just today, I had about 2 leaves in my lunch. They sneaked in somehow, and I didn't realize it until it the taste was in my mouth. To me, it tastes like. . . .well I don't know what it tastes like. I usually spit it out. It has been over an hour and I have a really bad headache. I hate cilantro because it does this to me every time!

ash said...

I am new to finding out that it isn't the food but the cilantro repentant all over the food that makes me feel sick. For me it makes everything taste raw. Things with and without meat. Last night I expressed this to some friends and it seemed like the oddest thing to them, but I left with an awful headache to prove it. So I am going to learn to be insist on never having cilantro in my food.

j_elyons2000 said...

Please don't dismiss cilantro allergy. You wouldn't tell someone who says that they are allergic to peanuts to "Just try it, you'll like it." Allergy symptoms vary. For me it just used to be a tingling sensation on my tongue. Now it is feeling breathless as my throat starts to swell shut. Food allegies can cause burning sensations in the mouth and throat, stomach upset, diarrhea, hives, headache, and DEATH. People do not "imagine" these symptoms because they don't like the taste of something (or they would have hundreds of allergies.)

RomanceWriter44 said...

I agree on not downplaying symptoms. Mine is stomach flu like symptoms within about 20 minutes - usually much quicker than that. They can be so severe I get dehydrated and last along with headache and disorientation for up to 48 hours. The doctor told me it's definitely an allergy and to avoid it religiously. Oddly coriander doesn't get me quite as badly. I've drank chai for years which has coriander in it and sometimes it will give me a stomach ache or a headache if I drink too much but the doctor said that chai in smaller regular amounts might help me build an immunity to cilantro. I've heard of people having much more severe symptoms like not being able to breathe and plummeting blood pressure too, so it can DEFINITELY be a serious allergy, it's just not as well known as say, peanuts.

firebyrd said...

Avoid tropical smoothie fish tacos. I hate the taste of cilantro, bit these tacos had an extremely spicy flavor so the cilantro didn't bother me. First time I actually ate it. Wound up with severe bloating and gas pain for 2 full days. Agonizing.

undesirables said...

I absolutely love Cilantro but when I eat it my mouth goes numb and my throat feels swollen. For a few hours after eating it it is nearly impossible to swallow any solids, unless im able to take benedryl. Each time I accidentally eat Cilantro (It happens) the reaction is worse. It may not be a common allergy but it certainly can cause serious reactions.

That being said I don't think people who just hate the taste should consider that being an allergic reaction.