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Ways In Which I Am Exactly Like Julia Child

cilantrohatCilantro is such a heated subject. People seem to either love it or hate it, and there’s not much in-between.

My friend Kris and I were just saying so, and the next day a New York Times article appeared about this exact topic (thus confirming what I thought: that I partly control the world with my mind).

Kris is a cilantro lover. She sent me a recipe that had tons of the stuff in it.

I am not a picky eater, but cilantro (also known as coriander) tastes to me like something that has spoiled and should immediately be thrown away. I immediately threw away the cilantro recipe. Also, I would not be able to stand the wearing of this cilantro hat.

And then I read the New York Times article, and this:

Culinary sophistication is no guarantee of immunity from cilantrophobia. In a television interview in 2002, Larry King asked Julia Child which foods she hated. She responded: “Cilantro and arugula I don’t like at all. They’re both green herbs, they have kind of a dead taste to me.”

“So you would never order it?” Mr. King asked.

“Never,” she responded. “I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”

I hear you, Julia. I too am a “supertaster” of sorts when it comes to cilantro. Though I have no beef, so to speak, with arugula.

The article goes on:

The authoritative Oxford Companion to Food notes that the word “coriander” is said to derive from the Greek word for bedbug, that cilantro aroma “has been compared with the smell of bug-infested bedclothes” and that “Europeans often have difficulty in overcoming their initial aversion to this smell.” …

Some people may be genetically predisposed to dislike cilantro, according to often-cited studies by Charles J. Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. But cilantrophobe genetics remain little known and aren’t under systematic investigation. Meanwhile, history, chemistry and neurology have been adding some valuable pieces to the puzzle. (Read more)

I don’t believe we need to throw a lot of money and time into understanding the chemistry and neurology of why cilantro tastes like bug-infested bedclothes smell. There are certainly many things that are much more important.

But I related to this article and especially to Julia Child. I wish I’d gotten to sit next to her when cilantro was served. We would have tossed our bits of nasty-smelling and -tasting cilantro on the floor to such an extent that birds would have been gathering it up for their nests.

If birds like cilantro.



  1. Sonia (foodiesleuth) April 16, 2010 12:38 pm

    That’s ok, Leslie….I don’t care too much for the stuff either. I can eat a tiny bit, but anything more than just passing the spring of cilantro through the salsa makes me turn up my nose (to be polite about it) – Anthony can’t eat it at all…his throat will literally close up!
    The first time I tasted cilantro was in a grated carrot salad and we ended up throwing the whole thing away.

    • Leslie Lang April 16, 2010 12:53 pm

      Thanks for letting me know you are a part of the sisterhood, Sonia.

  2. Elaine April 16, 2010 2:16 pm

    It took me quite a while to learn to like cilantro, however like Sonia I still only like a small amount of cilantro in my food. When I first tasted this herb, I thought it tasted like soap. In fact, I remember wondering if someone had washed the salad ingredients with soap to get the lettuce and other ingredients really clean.

  3. Nicola Reiss April 17, 2010 1:21 am

    I love cilantro! I love fresh cilantro, especially in Vietnamese food, and I often use coriander seeds in cooking Indian food. I find the idea of a genetic or neurological reason for disliking it attractive – mainly because I find it so hard to imagine people not liking it – there must be a good reason for it!

  4. rodrigo April 17, 2010 3:56 am

    hold on…..didn’t we give you guys at my house one time my Great-Grandmother’s Green Pozole?…..guess what’s in it?….besides the chicken and the corn….

    • Leslie Lang April 19, 2010 9:17 am

      Believe me, Rodrigo, I know when there’s cilantro in something!

  5. KP Hawaii April 22, 2010 6:05 pm

    I love cilantro. Took some getting used to a zillion years ago. Now I can grow it and eat right off the plant. I can’t imagine salsa without it.

  6. Leslie Lang April 22, 2010 8:03 pm

    Well Kathy, now you know you can invite me to your next chips-and-salsa party without having to worry about me snarfing down all your salsa!

  7. rodrigo April 26, 2010 12:57 pm

    hmm….that almost sounds like a challenge!

  8. Leslie Lang April 26, 2010 12:59 pm

    It is NOT a challenge. Do not make me throw cilantro on the floor, Rodrigo!!

  9. Barbara August 28, 2010 12:25 pm

    E Leslie, instead of throwing it on the floor, pass it my way. I love it! My husband dislikes it, so will check with the kids to see which was the dominant gene.

    • Leslie Lang August 28, 2010 1:31 pm

      It’s a deal. When people try to serve me cilantro, I will start mailing the wilted little bits to your house in small envelopes. Watch for them.